The Club World Cup Final between Manchester City and Fluminense will take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, coming Friday night. Neither team has ever taken home an intercontinental championship.

Only four South American teams have won the Club World Cup since 2000; like Fluminense, all four of those winners were Brazilian.

The Copa Libertadores champions this year have the potential to become the first non-European World Champions since Corinthians against Chelsea in 2012. However, in order to accomplish this, they will have to overcome overwhelming odds and triumph over Manchester City, the renowned European treble winners.

Originally called the “Intercontinental Cup” and limited to the champions of Europe and South America, the Club World Cup today attracts teams from all over the world. In those head-to-head matches played in Japan, the South American players prevailed more frequently.

The top players in South America now play for European teams; the days of players like Pele spending a lifetime at Santos in Brazil are long gone. This century has seen a shift in these dynamics. The most promising young players are being signed before they’ve even had a chance to establish themselves on the team, and the financial divide between the two best teams on the continent is growing.

Even though they started the Club World Cup at the semi-final stage, South American teams have recently missed out on the championship game. In their absence, representatives from Saudi Arabia, Japan, and Mexico faced off against European groups.

Pep Guardiola has expressed his love for Fluminense, citing their style of play and respect for ball possession in particular. It is becoming uncommon to witness a South American World Champion.

With any luck, of course, Fluminense will think they can defeat Manchester City on Friday. They won the Copa Libertadores for the first time this year, and players like André and Nino, who are all excellent individual players, are speculating about moving to Europe in January.

Along with young talent like John Kennedy, who scored in this week’s club World Cup semi-final against Al Ahly, Egypt’s Champions of Africa, and the Copa Libertadores final, they also have experienced talismans like Marcelo and Felipe Melo.

After defeating the Urawa Reds of Japan in the semifinal, City will want to win their fifth championship of 2023 on Friday, capping an incredible season for the sky blues. It will be expected of City to defeat Fluminense in the final, even in the absence of their main scorer Erling Haaland, who is a serious injury doubt.

The way the two teams choose to play will be interesting to watch. Fluminense will likely stick to their own game plan of dominating the ball, but we can already assume that Guardiola’s team won’t be too happy about that. This could lead to a more open and exciting match as both teams try to press and suffocate each other.


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