Trio of champions enter the fray | Al Hilal prepare to grace the stage for the first time | Old heads Monterrey and ES Tunis target new heights
With appetites whetted in Qatar after home favourites Al Sadd secured a place in the FIFA Club World Cup second round, a triple-threat of continental champions enter the arena for matchday two.
Al Sadd’s victory ensures a well-stocked Asian array, as Al Hilal make their debut appearance after lifting the AFC Champions League last month. Esperance Sportive de Tunis will square up against them, back again for a second time in 12 months after retaining the title of Africa’s top side.
The hosts meanwhile will aim to keep up their winning start against Monterrey, one of the most experienced sides in the tournament’s history, with Rayados having their hearts set on reaching a first ever final.
Al Hilal - Esperance Sportive de Tunis
14 December, Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, 17:00 local time
Monterrey - Al Sadd
14 December, Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, 20:30 local time
What you need to know
Third time lucky?
ES Tunis have had little joy in their pair of past Club World Cup openers. Falling to a 2-1 defeat to this tournament's hosts Al Sadd in 2011, they were roundly beaten by host side Al Ain this time last year. Will this returning crop have learned their lesson and come out firing on Saturday?
A wasteful Wednesday
36 attempts, 20 corners and three efforts off the woodwork. This is how Al Sadd’s stats read following their extra-time win over Hienghene Sport. While goals proved hard to come by, chance creation didn’t, so no doubt coach Xavi will be keenly re-calibrating their radar.
Players to watch
At times a Serie A sensation, a likely MLS all-time great, the Italian playmaker has found opportunities to sparkle wherever he’s been. ‘The Atomic Ant’ has made his name by being a bundle of pure creativity, being both deft of touch and devilishly difficult to contain when in full flow. ES Tunis will know one thing for certain ahead of kick-off: concede free-kicks at your peril.
Goal-scoring centre-backs don’t come much more prolific than Sanchez. With 23 goals in the last 18 months, he’s been pulling his weight and then some when it comes to getting on the scoresheet. While his penalty prowess has shown he has ice in his veins, his dominance in the air is something to behold and Al Sadd will be all too aware of the threat he poses. A goal in either leg of the Concacaf Champions League final sealed the Argentinian's legend status in Monterrey.