Recovering from defeat in time to refocus on a bronze medal is one of the major challenges tournaments present for ambitious teams wanting nothing but leaving with the trophy. However, both Pachuca and Al Jazira have plenty of motivation.
After slender and gut-wrenching defeats in the semi-finals, one side will leave the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 ending the tournament with a fine souvenir. Pachuca, four-time participants, have never left with a medal in hand. Meanwhile, Al Jazira will be looking to crown a memorable competition in front of a partisan home crowd.
Al Jazira’s performance against European champions Real Madrid was rightly lauded as heroic, having come so close to defying the odds in their 2-1 defeat. The flow of the game in many ways confirmed the effectiveness of Henk Ten Cate’s underlying tactics for the tournament: soak up pressure like an industrial sponge before springing a lightning-quick counter. Pachuca will be all too aware this will be waiting for them.
A side who like to move the ball around, the Mexicans will likely look to Keisuke Honda and Jorge Hernandez to orchestrate picking holes in the local side’s defence. Both probed as they searched for a breakthrough against Gremio but on Saturday, Los Tuzos will be without the livewire target of Victor Guzman – a consistent goal threat so far – after receiving a second booking in Al Ain.
8 – No goalkeeper has saved more shots than Ali Khaseif in a first half against Real Madrid this season. However, having gone off with a thigh strain in the second period against the Spanish giants, it will likely be up to deputy Khaled Al Senaani – who pulled off a few impressive saves himself – to keep the CONCACAF champions at bay.
"Our tactics worked excellently. We had three or four chances to score a goal. I think we did an amazing job with the small club that we are. We put the UAE on the map, and I think this is something special."
Henk Ten Cate, Al Jazira coach
"I want to highlight the spirit of my players, the ambition they have is huge, and I’m really proud of them. It was a great opportunity to make history and we got very close because we competed well, but unfortunately we couldn’t fulfil our dream of getting to the final."
Diego Alonso, Pachuca coach