By Louis Smith.
After a year in the wilderness, a CONMEBOL side are set to play in the Fifa Club World Cup final as Fernando Diniz’s South American Champions, Fluminense, overcame Al-Ahly 2-0 during Tuesday’s final.
A penalty from Jhon Arias and a tidy finish from John Kennedy was enough to see off the Egyptian side and now they face a date with destiny, as they take on treble winners Manchester City, in what promises to be a thrilling game between two sides, who play a contrasting brand of football.
In the words of Fernando Diniz himself: “The way Pep likes having possession is the opposite of mine. His style is positional, mine is anti-positional.”
Fluminense tend to play a brand of football like no other, with players asked to roam from their positions and take risky passes, rather than take the safe option. It’s fluid football on steroids, at any given moment there could be two attacking wingers on the same side and a full-back bombing through on goal in the number ‘nine position, nothing is off the limits for a team coached by Fernando Diniz.
Manchester City aim to dominate the possession and players are not given as much license to express themselves and are often trying to pass the opposition to death.
The Flu players have been given extra motivation (not that they needed it) coming into this final following an article from English media outlet, The Telegraph stated: “To win Club World Cup, Man City must beat a line-up more suited to Soccer Aid”.
It’s a message that will be pinned on the walls of the Flu dressing room to rile their players up.
“They were smart, it’s a way of appealing to the public,” said veteran centre-back Felipe Melo regarding the headline.
“Social networks often come to give a voice to idiots. In the same way that there are young people performing with big names, there are also athletes my age who can perform better than boys.
“I play because I am disciplined, professional and love football. There are people who will use their intelligence to talk about constructive things and other, idiotic things, as was the case with the newspaper.”
One thing for sure is that this is going to be a highly entertaining game, Diniz won’t change his style for City and when teams have had a go at City, they have caused them problems and Flu will certainly do that.
The Fluminense Expected Starting 11 XI
Fabio – The two-time Bola de Prata winner is still making crucial saves aged 43, including a few key ones on Monday!
Samuel Xavier – Signed from Ceara in 2021, Xavier has been a key figure in Fluminense’s recent success.
Nino – 2023 has been a vital year for Nino, he made his Senior National team debut and has formed a formidable partnership with Felipe Melo.
Felipe Melo – Nicknamed ‘the Pitbul’ he can sometimes go over the top but is certainly a nightmare for any attacker.
Marcelo – a serial winner, not many trophies he hasn’t won.
Andre – Young, full of energy, and a tidy tidy player. This is likely his last game for Fluminense with several English clubs battling for his signature.
Martinelli – Another young talented midfielder, who has played plenty of senior football despite being aged only 22. One who will likely move to Europe in the future.
Keno – Another player over 30 with plenty of experience and silverware to his name.
Ganso – Former a formidable partnership with Neymar during his Santos days. Is a silky player who’s lovely to watch on the ball. Played against Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in the 2011 final.
Jhon Arias – a tricky Colombian winger who is exciting to watch and most definitely cause the Manchester City back-line a few problems.
Germán Cano – Argentine goal-machine who has scored 40 times in 60 games in 2023.