Gremio vs Pachuca – Tuesday, December 12, 17:00 GMT/18:00 CET – Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.
Pachuca are through to the semi-final of the FIFA World Club Cup. But in truth, it was a hard piece of work against the CAF Champions League winner Wydad Casablanca. It took 120 minutes and a red card for Wydad for Pachuca to get the job done and advance to the semi-final of the competition.
It is the first time in the history of the club that Pachuca managed to get to this round of the competition. Pachuca have previously taken part in three FIFA Club World Cups, but on the previous three occasions were eliminated by the champions of Africa—2007 by Etoile du Sahel, 2008 by Al Ahly and 2010 by TP Mazembe.
Having won the CONCACAF Champions League in the spring against fellow Mexican side Tigres UANL Pachuca have now won five CONCACAF titles. But at the same time, the title somewhat paints over what has been two disappointing half seasons in which the club missed the Liga MX playoffs.
Hence, why Pachuca have therefore finally overcome their African trauma. But they will now face an even more robust challenge from the Copa Libertadores winners Gremio. Gremio secured the Libertadores with a 3-1 aggregate win over the Argentine side Lanus. It was a convincing win in late November by the team from Porto Alegre, which secured their third Copa Libertadores title with the win over Lanus. With the likes of Luan, Arthur and Lucas Barrios Gremio have a dangerous attacking side that will undoubtedly be the favourite over a Pachuca side that has struggled in the Apertura and failed to reach the Liga MX playoffs.
Gremio vs Pachuca – Player to look out for:
Luan Vieira #7 – Gremio Porto Alegrense
There is not much to know about Luan, the new Ronaldinho; we could have possibly missed in our scouting report. The only thing we must highlight is that not moving to Spartak was the right call in the end. The 24-year-old scored a fantastic goal in the Copa Libertadores against Lanus to secure the title for his side. Not as quick as the average captivating Brazilian, Luan relies on elegance and anticipation to always look a couple of seconds ahead of his rivals. His superior quality is evident, and it would be a surprise if Gremio managed to keep him beyond this winter. Pachuca’s primary task will be to stop Luan in the semi-finals, for in him lies Gremio’s most dangerous attacking resource.
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 essential to carry Pachuca to the final of the FIFA Club World Cup.
Gremio vs Pachuca – Match Stats
- Mexican sides have never reached the Club World Cup final.
- Gremio have won the predecessor of the Club World Cup, the Intercontinental Cup, in 1983.
- Pachuca are now taking part in their fourth Club World Cup, but have never before reached the semi-final of the competition.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Gremio vs Pachuca 2-1
Gremio vs Pachuca – Possible Lineups
Gremio Porto Alegrense
Grohe – Edilson, Geromel, Kannemann, Cortez – Jailson, Cicero – Ramiro, Luan, Fernandinho – Barrios
Coach: Renato Portaluppi
Pérez – R. Herrera, J. Martinez, Murillo, E. Garcia – V. Guzman, J. Hernandez, E. Aguirre, Honda – Urretaviscaya, Sagal
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.