The 2010 Club World Cup will take place December 8-18 in the United Arab Emirates. This competition is the second most prestigious club football (soccer) championship behind only the Champions League. What makes the Club World Cup such an interesting event is the fact that only continental club champions can participate in the tournament. This means that the field is limited to six elite teams. Among this year’s participants are Champions League winner Inter Milan, South American champion Internacional, and North American champion C.F. Pachuca. In this article, I will offer predictions and schedule information for the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup.
Historically, European and South American teams have dominated the $16.5 million tournament. As a matter of fact, teams from the two continents have played in the title match of every Club World Cup since its inception. Yet, clubs from other continents have shown terrific progress the last couple of years and may give top teams from Europe and South America some stiff competition at this year’s Club World Cup. As the elite teams of the tournament, Inter Milan and Sport Club Internacional will automatically be placed in the semifinals; the remaining clubs will have to fight it out for the right to join them.
Italian champion Inter Milan is the overwhelming favorite to win the 2010 Club World Cup. Milan came off a fantastic 2009-10 season, winning a treble of football honors which includes the highly coveted Champions League Cup. While the team is not as strong this competitive cycle due to the recent departure of coach José Mourinho and some key players, Inter still boasts a potent lineup of established stars like Samuel Eto’o, Wesley Sneijder, and Diego Milito. There is little question that a healthy Inter Milan should win this competition rather convincingly. However, Inter may not be able to field its strongest squad at the 2010 Club World Cup due to a packed schedule that includes games in both the Champions League and Serie A.
Brazilian football club Internacional is Inter Milan’s top challenger at the prize-rich event. The South American champion is no stranger to this FIFA-sponsored competition, having beaten Barcelona for the title in 2006. Unfortunately, Internacional will have a hard time replicating its 2006 title run at this year’s tournament. Clubs from South America, including the Brazilian champion, are being plagued by the continuing exodus of top local talents to Europe. While Internacional’s current roster is still formidable, it is hard to see that the club can even match Milan’s second team in term of talent. It should not be a big surprise, if the South American club fails to advance to the tournament’s title match.
My predictions for the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup: Inter Milan defeats C.F. Pachuca for the title; Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma finishes third. The event will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates and is scheduled to run from December 8-18. The preliminary phase will take place December 8-11; semifinal matches are scheduled for December 14-15. The final will be played on December 18 at Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi. Participating teams at this year’s event include Inter Milan (Europe), Sport Club Internacional (South America), Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (Asia), TP Mazembe (Africa), Pachuca (North America), Hekari United (Oceania), and Al-Wahda (host).