- Liverpool enter the arena with eyes trained on glory
- Monterrey out to finally earn their shot at the title
- Victor will earn a place in Saturday’s final
It’s been a long old wait for one of English football’s most decorated sides to get back within reach of earning the title of world champions. It’s 14 years since they stepped out at the tournament and fell at the hands of Sao Paulo in Japan, so making the same mistake twice and going home empty-handed isn’t remotely on the radar.
Meanwhile, Monterrey have had three tilts at the title since Steven Gerrard and Co. missed out, but a solitary bronze is their most memorable souvenir. While the odds are against them, the underdogs will be hoping to reach their debut finale in spectacular style.
📅 The game
18 December, Khalifa International Stadium, 20:30 local time
📌 What you need to know
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“It’s special because you play against totally different nations’ clubs, so it’s an amazing experience. You cannot always have this experience, it’s a long way to get there so we have to enjoy that too. I won it already with Bayern, it was amazing, and it’s also important for the club: a big trophy, an important trophy.”
Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri, having triumphed back in 2013
Rogelio Funes Mori’s twin brother Ramiro was sent off for Liverpool’s local rivals Everton in the Merseyside derby back in 2016. No doubt the Argentinians’ family would be love to see Rogelio add to the goal he scored against Al Sadd in Monterrey’s opener on Saturday. Ramiro’s old side struck two against Liverpool just a fortnight ago, however even if Rogelio does get some retribution, the five the Reds scored in response shows what firepower he may have to out-score.
🔎 Players to watch
Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
While the standout stars are obvious, and Liverpool’s full-backs are rightly garnering worldwide plaudits, captain Henderson has had a renaissance under Jurgen Klopp over the last couple of seasons. Maligned by some fans earlier on in his Reds career, the industrious Englishman is crucial to the high-intensity play his German coach demands and, in the absence of defensive screen Fabinho, will be called upon to provide the firm foundation for those around him to flourish.
Jesus Gallardo (Monterrey)
Having almost kicked off Monterrey’s tournament in spectacular style – rattling the crossbar inside two minutes against Al Sadd – Gallardo is set for a serious workout at the Khalifa International Stadium. While he operated on the left wing on Saturday, his adeptness as a full-back will be certainly called upon with the twin threats of Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold to contend with. The space in behind the young right-back is also widely considered one of Liverpool’s most exploitable weaknesses, so his performance could be key at either end.
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