Competition
  • Champions League
  • Copa Libertadores

Madrid win and Solari poised to lift first silverware

While Argentina still reflects as to how River Plate (one of the biggest footballing institutions in the country along with Boca Juniors) lost in the semi-final to Al Ain, Real Madrid saw off opposition from Japan's Kashima Antlers. Being totally honest, this is not a match that will go down in club history but it was a great night for Gareth Bale, the Welsh player who at times can display the speed of Gento and the common sense approach of Puskas. His three goals were the highlight in a game where the team delivered a performance marginally better than that we saw in LaLiga games against Huesca and Rayo Vallecano.

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale

Fast-track

The result is positive though and this is key in the game of football. The Club World Cup is a knock-out competition, originally conceived as a clash between the best sides from Europe and South America which ignored other confederations champions with the view that these champions were infinitely better than the rest. Today, there's no guarantee that the Libertadores champion is superior to others as we saw on Tuesday as River Plate were eliminated by Al Ain. Each year it's more difficult to argue that the South American champions should be fast-tracked straight to the semi-final and the elimination of "Los Millionarios" will do little to strengthen this argument.

SOLARI

Local interest

Saturday's final will see Real Madrid face local side Al Ain in what is possibly the most one-sided final the competition in it's current format. There is the other caveat in that Al Ain are are not actually a confederation champions but a UAE league champions invited to generate local interest. That's just the way things have transpired in this competition. This is always a risk on elaborating on the format of what used to be just a one off game between the South American and European champions, the Intercontinental cup competition. The game has evolved but there's no getting away from the fact that we now have one rich, dominant continent that has the financial muscle to hoover up young talent from around the world. Real Madrid are in the final and I hope it helps see Solari continue without being constantly questioned.