AFC Champions League holders Al Sadd of Quatar secured themselves a dream tie against Barcelona in the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup, after defeating the current CAF Champions League holders AS Tunis by two goals to one. Al Sadd can boast a few relatively familiar names in their line-up – including players such as Nadir Belhadj, Abdul Kader Keita, and Mamadou Niang – all of whom may be familiar to followers of European football. The game will take place at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama this Thursday, the 15th of December, and could draw a large crowd in host nation Japan’s second largest city.
The first semi-final will take place the day before, on Wednesday the 14th December, at a venue – the Toyota stadium – where host nation hopefuls Kashiwa Reysol are undefeated in the competition so far. The J-League Champions previously defeated a plucky Auckland City 2-0 in the play-off round, and then scraped past stronger opposition in the shape of Monterrey of Mexico on penalties, after the game finished 1-1.
The home team will be hoping for an upset against Santos of Brazil, who are in the competition due to their Copa Libertadores win earlier in the year. Santos will be looking to their future Brazilian superstar Neymar, who Pele recently claimed is better the Lionel Messi, to see them through to a possible final against Barcelona where he might get the chance to add some weight to this fanciful claim.
The host nation have also promised to take further security measures at these semi-finals, as the game between AS Tunis and Al Sadd ended with some spectators taking to the field.