Before the final of another edition of the FIFA Club World Cup, we have made a comparison between the European and South American teams and we tried to find out what are the real chances of the Copa Libertadores’ champions to do well against the winners of the Champions League.
Flamengo and Liverpool have been dominant on their domestic leagues
On the leagues in Europe, it is not unusual to see a club that has a clear dominance over the domestic competition and tend to win it with a large advantage over the other competitors.
In England, for example, although there are several clubs with a lot of quality, on the last 5 years, only Guardiola’s Manchester City really stood out over the other teams.
On the 2017/18 season, City reached the milestone of 100 points, finishing 19 points ahead of Manchester United.
This season, Liverpool has been looking unbeatable and Jurgen Klopp’s team still hasn’t lost until the 15th round, having picked up 14 victories and 1 draw, with 37 goals scored and 14 goals conceded, already having an 11-points advantage over Manchester City, who are in 3rd place.
In Brazil, the distance between the clubs tends to be lower, due to several reasons, even geographical ones, with long trips and a packed schedule.
On the last decade, the champions only managed to maintain a distance higher than 10 points over the 2nd place on 4 occasions.
In the 2019 Brazilian Serie A, Flamengo were crowned champions still with 4 rounds left to be played, and right now they have a 16-points advantage over Santos, and it could even increase.
The club has risen to the next level in terms of quality with the arrival of the manager Jorge Jesus, having the points’ record in the Brazilian Serie A and being the best attack in Brazil. On their domestic league alone, they’ve already scored 80 goals.
Less technical distance from the previous years
The comparison between Europeans and South Americans is unavoidable, although on the last couple of seasons, the South Americans have been disappointing on some editions, not even reaching the final.
Europe and its representatives have a total of 32 world titles, against 26 from South America, with these numbers being since 1960.
On the last 10 years, there have been 6 clashes between South Americans and Europeans, 5 of them were won by the winners of the Champions League and only 1 of them was won by the club that won the Copa Libertadores’ title.
The exception was Corinthians, in 2012, when they faced Chelsea and won by 1-0, with a goal from Paolo Guerrero.
For those that saw that final, there was ridiculous pressure from the Englishmen, with the goalkeeper Cássio being the man of the match and Corinthians not being able to reach the Blues’ goal very often.
This season we have a South American representative with different characteristics.
Flamengo built a team with a lot of quality, being very superior to the other clubs of the continent.
They have great players from the Brazilian national team, but they have on their playstyle the biggest difference when compared to the former contenders to the FIFA Club World Cup.
With a European manager, they play with a more intense style, more vertical and with a very offensive mindset. They are still inferior to Liverpool, at least theoretically speaking, without a doubt, but that distance between the clubs was never this small on the “modern age” of the competition.
Differences and similarities between Klopp and Jesus
The biggest similarity would obviously be the fact that they’re both European. Both the German Jurgen Klopp and the Portuguese Jorge Jesus have the habit of mounting intense teams, that abuse the pressure to steal the ball and go into a quick and almost fatal offensive transition.
Both of them play with 3 advanced men on the attack. However, Flamengo, sometimes returns to a model more similar to the 4-4-2. The difference should be the approach of both teams in this match. I believe that Liverpool will have more ball possession while Flamengo will be more reactive.
Temos um novo recorde do clube!
TRINTA E DOIS JOGOS DE INVENCIBILIDADE NO CAMPEONATO!!!!!
— Merseyside Reds BR (@merseyredsbr) December 4, 2019
I’ve been noticing on the matches this season that Liverpool is initially a lot less vertical, making less shots on goal than last season, and being very moderate on the first actions.
Flamengo has been very intense in Brazil, but on the final of the Copa Libertadores, they were put on a leash by River Plate until the final minutes, when the game turned on its head on 2 individual plays.
The advantage of the schedule for the Europeans
The quality difference that exists between South America and Europe is clear and very important, but I believe that the intensity of the match would be different in case both teams were fully fit.
The FIFA Club World Cup takes place in December, at the end of the season for the Brazilians, while it is on its peak for the Englishmen.
The intensity of the match changes completely, inclusively changing the playing characteristics of the teams here.
The biggest example was in 2017, on the match between Real Madrid and Grêmio, where the Spanish side won by 1-0, with a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo on a set piece.
Despite the close scoreline, Grêmio was trapped, defending during 90% of the match and not being able to reach the goal of the Merengues.
They defended very well, with a spectacular performance from the defence, but there simply wasn’t enough action from the attackers, that worked more as auxiliary defenders than attackers.
Flamengo has been playing at a very above average intensity when compared to the other Brazilian teams and the question is if they will be able to physically match Liverpool here.
I believe that if both sides are in full strength and on the same physical conditions, this would be a somewhat balanced match.
Liverpool should dominate most of the actions, but they should also struggle slightly against a Brazilian side that has a very strong offensive game.
In my opinion Flamengo would be the team that’s more capable of fighting on the same level against a European team these days. It will depend a lot on the intensity of the match and on how far their legs will hold on for.