FIFA Club World Cup
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) hosted the previously-postponed 2020 Club World Cup in Qatar this past week, in which the winners of each continental league — the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League, the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Champions League, the Copa Libertadores, the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Champions League, and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League — along with the champions of the host nation’s league played against each other in a knockout competition.
Originally meant to be played in December of last year, the competition was delayed in consideration of the ongoing pandemic. New Zealand’s quarantine measures also resulted in OFC champions Auckland City withdrawing from the tournament, with the first round win being awarded to their would-be opponents, host Qatar’s Al-Duhail.
In the second round, Al-Duhail found themselves unable to capitalize on their chances and, despite registering 15 shots to CAF champions Al Ahly’s seven, a mistake by the Al-Duhail defense in the 30th minute gave the Egyptian side’s Hussein El Shahat the chance to put a well-placed goal into the back of the net — the only goal of the game. Concurrently, CONCACAF champions Tigres UANL faced AFC champions Ulsan Hyundai. Kim Kee-hee opened the scoring for Ulsan with a powerful header in the 24th minute, but two goals by Tigres’ André-Pierre Gignac put the Mexican side through to the next round.
Gignac would prove vital in the semi-final, as the French national scored the game-winning penalty against Copa Libertadores winners Palmeiras after a foul in the box. Meanwhile, some lovely teamwork by UEFA champions Bayern Munich gave Robert Lewandowski two goals, putting them past Al Ahly.
Bayern continued to put up a strong performance in the final, and despite a valiant performance, Tigres UANL found themselves having a hard time getting past Bayern’s defense, totaling only a single shot on target in comparison to Bayern’s nine. The tournament-winning goal came in the 59th minute courtesy of Benjamin Pavard, securing the sextuple for the German side.
The 2020 FIFA Club World Cup was a host of achievements — Brazilian official Edina Alves Batista became the first woman to officiate at a senior FIFA men’s tournament, Tigres UANL became the first CONCACAF side to reach the FIFA Club World Cup finals, and champions Bayern Munich became the second-ever European team in history to win all six titles — the domestic treble, plus the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, and the V — in a single calendar year.