Real Madrid beat Club America 2-0 to advance to the final of the Club World Cup
Los Blancos moved closer winning their third trophy of 2016 with goals in either half from Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo. Club America put in a tenacious and determined performance, but Madrid’s quality was too much for them to handle. Madrid will now play in the final of Club World Cup against Kashima Antlers on Sunday.
Benzema opened the scoring right before half-time and Ronaldo also picked up a goal in the dying embers of the second half. The most memorable moment came when Ronaldo was presented with an open goal but completely mistimed his header, inexplicably clearing the ball from 2 yards out.
Real weren’t made to pay for their star man’s profligacy as America rarely threatened the Spanish side and Keylor Navas was relatively untroubled in goal.
Ronaldo finally breaks his duck – and hits 500 mark
Ballon D’or winner Cristiano Ronaldo had never scored in the Club World Cup until his goal in the final minutes of the second half. Ronaldo didn’t look at all like the player who won the Ballon D’or, with his miss from 2 yards out equally hilarious and bewildering at the same time.
Ronaldo looked to Benzema whose leap in front of the Portugese international was no doubt distracting but Ronaldo should have definitely done better.
Ronaldo had several chances to break his duck but squandered all of them until the final minutes. He was also unlucky with a header that hit the post and his frustration was fully evident after the striker berated himself.
With seconds left on the clock, Ronaldo finally got his goal and scored his first ever Club World Cup goal – and the 500th of his career.
Nacho impressive again
Nacho was impressive yet again, this time in central defence. Madrid’s ultimate ulitity player, Nacho has been used in all 4 positions at the back this season. He was all over the place against Club America, putting tackles and breaking up play whenever the Mexican club attempted to string together a move.
The only blemish in an otherwise impressive performance was a needless yellow card that he picked up towards the end of the game for a rash challenge on a Club America player.
Zidane taking competition seriously
Zinedine Zidane might not have named his strongest line-up against Club America but it is clear that he is not taking the Club World Cup as lightly as some teams have in the past.
Ronaldo, Bezema, Modric, Kroos and Marcelo all featured and the fact that he wasn’t afraid of risking key players like this shows just how seriously he is taking the competition.
There was a start for Lucas Vazquez as well, who worked hard and didn’t do any damage to his first team chances.
Video Technology still needs work
The VAR technology caused some big confusion towards the end of the game. Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal was flagged for a video review. Players surrounded the referee in confusion while the decision was being made and it clearly took a lot longer than it should have.
The doubt was over whether or not Ronaldo was offside as he latched onto a through ball, but the Portugese was onside and the goal stood. A whole minute had gone by in stoppage time.
There is no doubt that video technology will be a great help in football, but it is clear that it still needs a lot of work. Decisions need to be made quicker and there needs to a system where it is clear to the players that the referee is awaiting a decision.
There also need to be strict rules about the way players behave when waiting for a decision, as the referee was clearly uncomfortable when he was swarmed and didn’t really know what to tell the players.
Luka Modric had this to say about VAR after the game :
“Video assistance is something new and to be honest, I don’t really like it as I think it creates a lot of confusion,” explained Modric, according to Football Espana
“We had a meeting with the referees the other day regarding video technology, but I did not listen too much as I don’t expect it to continue for very long.
Club World Cup needs work
The Club World Cup still does not appeal to most people. This was evidenced by the empty seats visible at the 72,000-seater International Stadium in Yokohama that played host to the 2002 World Cup final. Something definitely needs to be done for the tournament to be more attractive to not just the local crowd but also to viewers around the world.
It is simply not a competition that many take seriously and with FIFA planning reforms to the World Cup format, they should probably look into refreshing the CWC as well.
If the dwindling interest continues the way it does, clubs could start to dismiss the competition and even attempt to opt out of it.
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