Al-Jazira vs Pachuca – Tuesday, December 16, 14:00 GMT/15:00 CET – Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.
It is a FIFA tradition to force clubs that have fallen at the semi-final stage to play an extra round of football to determine the bronze medal winner. This rather Olympic notion is often frowned upon in world football, and with both Al-Jazira and Pachuca coming close to upsetting the apple cart neither side will be pleased about having to compete in this match.
On the other hand, host Al-Jazira and Liga MX side Pachuca have a point to prove. Real Madrid narrowly eliminated Al-Jazira in the semifinal and even took the lead at one point. A hard-working side the match plan to keep Real out was in the end undone by Cristiano Ronaldo’s and Gareth Bale’s world class abilities.
Pachuca in the meantime took Copa Libertadores champions Gremio the full 120 minutes. Only in the 95th minute of extra time did Gremio’s Everton manage to break the deadlock by scoring the only goal of the game. It was a disappointing result for Pachuca, who after all had put all their eggs in one basket after surprisingly winning the CONCACAF Champions League against fellow Liga MX side Tigres in the spring.
For Pachuca, the match against Al-Jazira will, therefore, constitute a warm-up game to the Liga MX Clausura season, which kicks off in January. Failing to reach the Liguilla two seasons in a row Pachuca, in their current form, were perhaps not the best CONCACAF ambassador at this tournament. Regardless a must win against Al-Jazira on Saturday will at least mean a definite goodbye from the UAE.
Al-Jazira vs Pachuca – Player to look out for:
Mbark Boussoufa #10 – Al-Jazira
Mbark Boussoufa is a familiar figure for readers of the Futbolgrad Network. The Moroccan national team player spent five years in the Russian Football Premier League with Anzhi Makhachkala and Lokomotiv Moscow. A product of the Ajax youth academy Boussoufa joined Chelsea at a young age before embarking on a tour of Belgium and Russia in which he never was entirely able to use his full potential. Fallen out of favour with Lokomotiv Moscow in the winter of 2016 he was sent on loan to KAA Gent where he also failed to make an impact. As a result, he was able to leave Lokomotiv on a free transfer joining UAE side Al-Jazira where he has now become the most recognisable player in the squad.
Keisuke Honda #2 – Pachuca
Keisuke Honda is the most significant name at Pachuca. The Japanese player was brought in to replace Hirving Lozano, who joined PSV last summer. Signed by Milan Honda, however, took time to adapt to life in the Liga MX. In 12 games Honda scored three goals, but carrying an injury into the season the Japanese midfielder was not always able to have the impact that Pachuca’s officials were hoping for. With Honda struggling at times Pachuca failed to reach the Apertura Liguilla. But Honda still is showing signs of genius and with his experience will be crucial to deliver a bronze medal at the FIFA Club World Cup.
Al-Jazira vs Pachuca – Match Stats
- No goalkeeper has saved more shots than Ali Khaseif in the first half against Real Madrid in this season’s Club World Cup.
- However, having gone off with a thigh strain in the second period against the Spanish giants, it will likely be up to deputy Khaled Al Senaani – who pulled off a few impressive saves himself – to keep the CONCACAF champions at bay.
- Although Pachuca failed to advance to the final, they will finish in the highest Club World Cup position after having previously been eliminated at the quarterfinal stage three times in a row.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Al-Jazira vs Pachuca 1-2
Al-Jazira vs Pachuca – Possible Lineups
Al Senani – Fayez, Ali Ayed, Juma, Rashid – Yousif, Al Attas, Alhammadil – Romarinho – Mabkhout, Boussoufa
Coach: Renato Portaluppi
Pérez – E. Garcia, O. Gonzalez, Murillo, J. Martinez – Gutierrez, J. Hernandez, E. Aguirre, Honda – Urretaviscaya, Jara
Coach: Diego Alonso
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.