Saturday, December 19, 2009

Estudiantes v Pohang

At long last the FIFA Club World Cup tournament begins. 3,500 fans from Argentina have arrived and 4,000 plain clothed police boost the crowd to 22,000 for the first Semi Final.

After a promising opening when Estudiantes dominated possession the game had become lifeless, until in first half injury time a free kick is pumped into the box, the Estudiantes forward clearly (to me) was in an offside position and tries his best to get a touch on the ball. The ball goes in the net and a goal is given.

The Pohang Steelers coach stated that he did not see a referee on the pitch. I saw one. But he didn't appear to be watching the game. Worse was to follow as three sendings off followed. All of which appeared harsh. The Korean side played with determination for the final 13 minutes with just 8 men and tried to make a game of it even with the tournament's leading scorer, Denilson in goal. So 2-1 Estudiantes and one half of the FIFA jigsaw is complete. Remember FIFA prefers South America v Europe in these competitions.

Wednesday. Barcelona are in town and suddenly everyone is interested in the football. There was a constant stream of helicopters overhead in the morning as dignitaries arrived. There was no doubting who the U.A.E locals were supporting as during the 5th place place off game the video screen panned to the Barcelona players in the stand. Each time a loud cheer went up.

The stadium was silenced early on as Atlante took the lead. Both teams were putting together passing moves creating intricate patterns the likes of which I hadn't seen since that mornings visit to the Sheikh Zayed mosque. Barcelona scored and the locals were clearly relieved. Game on.

Messi was given superstar status before he even entered the field of play as the fans chanted for him to enter the fray. Within a minute he had delivered 2-1 Barcelona. From then it it was easy for Barcelona. After the match people were now looking forward to Saturday's final and asking for tickets. After disappointing crowds (only 4,200 for the earlier game that day) throughout the tournament at least the final will be sold out.

Dubai.

© Ross Clegg & Soccerphile.com

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