Gremio deservedly earned their ticket to play in the final of the Club World Cup. Renato Gaucho squeezed the very best out of his players to achieve glory in 2016 with the Copa de Brasil and then the Copa de Libertadores in 2017, with an atypical game in Brazil. Putting speed and directness ahead of tika-taka and the so-called 'beautiful game'.
Gremio style and strategy challenge for Madrid
That formula resulted in a magical Tuesday evening for the semi-final against Pachuca in the United Arab Emirates. A goal by Everton in extra time was the difference and took them to a glamour final against Real Madrid on Saturday, prolonging their party, and giving them more time in the international spotlight. The manager and his men on the field can expect to see far more white shirts as they look up to the stands but those in the tricolor will make their noise heard. The side from Porto Alegre will feel like the away team in the final, but this shouldn't worry them after impressive results away from the Arena do Gremio this year - Barcelona from Guayaquil, Lanús, Cruzeiro and Atlético Mineiro feeling the pain.
The challenge that now faces Renato Gaucho, away from the glitz, is how best to set up against the European champions. This current Gremio is a side that often gives up much of the ball to the opposition, taking advantage when winning it back to hit on the counter. Their main stars, namely Luan and Arthur, then get involved and have a knack of causing problems for the backtracking defence. Unfortunately for Gaucho, the latter player has been kept absent from this tournament due to injury.
Luan and the wide areas for Gremio
Luan has a dangerous shot from distance and this is somethingn that he'll look to use if space can be found in the final third. He'll also look to link up with Lucas Barrios centrally while feed off delivery from the wings provided by Fernandinho and Ramiro.
The Brazilian coach has to choose whether to hold firm with his strategy and wait for the opening or retreat a few metres more hoping to minimize the dangers of the Madrid attack. And the key to this decision could be on the flanks. Bruno Cortez, on the left, and Edílson or Leo Mura on the right, have no qualms about joining the attack as soon as they can. Rather similar to what Marcelo and Carvajal do in Madrid, however, the Brazilian side's version are more exposed when getting back to defend. We'll see what approach is taken.
Lucas Barrios to take advantage of Madrid backline
Renato's headaches on team selection and strategy are lessened Gremio look to the middle and forward areas of the pitch. There the Brazilians are carried by Luan and something good can happen at any moment when he is involved. If not created wide then Lucas Barrios will look to create it through the centre. The veteran Paraguayan striker often plays between the two central defenders and, in a start to a season that has seen more vulnerabilities for Los Blancos in this area, this could be a key focus. Using his height and strength Lucas Barrios will be aiming to give Ramos and Nacho an uncomfortable evening.