KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Bayern Munich are not only champions of Germany and Europe but now also the world after a 1-0 victory over Tigres of Mexico in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup in the Education Stadium in Doha, Qatar. Frenchman Benjamin Pavard, a World Cup-winner with his country already, scored the second-half winning goal.
Victory, squashed between Bayern’s domestic duties, was another remarkable achievement for Hansi Flick, who had been appointed only on an interim basis in November 2019. The Heidelberg coach has thus matched the six-out-of-six achievement of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in 2009,
Bayern won despite being forced into two late changes after Jerome Boateng left the squad following the death of his former partner and then Thomas Müller tested positive for coronavirus a few hours before kickoff.
Their places were taken over by Niklas Süle and Leroy Sané , with Lucas Hernández replacing injured Marc Roca and David Alaba moving up into midfield.
Tigres coach Ricardo Ferretti started with the same line-up who had beaten Brazil’s Palmeiras in the semi-finals and made a lively start.
Bayern provided the initial serious threat, however, when Joshua Kimmich had a 15th-minute goal ruled out by the video assistant referee on the basis that Robert Lewandowski obstructed the vision of keepeer Nahuel Guzmán. Sane then hit the bar shortly before half-time.
The Germans were well worth the victory delivered ultimately by French defender Benjamin Pavard in the 59th minute and despite a linesman’s flag for offside which was overruled by VAR.
Flick’s record in the past 68 games and 15 months is remarkable. He has won more titles (six) than suffered defeats (five), winning 58 matches with only five draws and five losses. Bayern’s 210 goals in those games means an average of more than three per game.
He said after the match: “Even for such a successful club as Bayern this was the most successful season ever. The team were outstanding. Victory was never in danger, we dominated and deserved to win. We want to be the most successful team Bayern Munich have ever had.”
Ferretti, coach of the first CONCACAF club to reach the world final, has no argument with the outcome.
He said: “We tried to play our best but they were superior and deserved the victory. But I’m proud of my team. Our discipline and organisation never broke down, we kept trying to attack a team who defend well and had plenty of possession all around the pitch.”
Al Ahly third
Goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenaway saved two penalties in the shootout as Al Ahly edged Palmeiras 3-2 after a goalless draw to finish third.
Al Ahly started the brighter and had a great opportunity midway through the first half. A mistake by Felipe Melo enabled Amr Elsoulia to go through on goal but he shot wide.
Mohamed Afsha spurned another good chance for the Egyptians, and Rony twice threatened for Palmeiras, but the opening 45 finished goalless.
The Brazilians threatened at the start of the second half but Rony and Patrick de Paula wasted chances.
Only one of the first five penalties was scored and, ultimately, Luiz Adriano’s miss and El Shenaway’s saves from Rony and Felipe Melo decided the outcome in the African champions’ favour.
Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich won the adidas Golden Ball which is awarded to the best player by the FIFA technical study group. Andre Pierre Gignac of Tigres and Joshua Kimmich of Bayern were second and third respectively.
Lewandowski was also given the Alibaba Cloud award for the most outstanding player in the final competition, as selected by the TSG. The difference between the two prizes – apart from the sponsor’s name – is not clear.
The FIFA Fair Play Trophy was awarded by the TSG to Al-Duhail of host Qatar as the team with the best fair play record, according to a points system and criteria specified by the competition regulations.
Feb 1 – 1st rnd: Al-Duhail (Qtr) 3-0 walkover v Auckland City (NZ).
Feb 4 – 2nd rnd: Al-Duhail 0, Al Ahly (Egy) 1; Tigres UANL (Mex) 2, Ulsan Hyundai (SK) 1.
Feb 7 – semi-final: Palmeiras (Brz) 0, Tigres 1.
Feb 8 – semi-final: Al Ahly 0, Bayern Munich (Ger) 2.
Feb 11 – final: Tigres 0, Bayern Munich 1. Third place play-off: Palmeiras 0, Al Ahly 0 (2-3pens).