In taking the honours at UAE 2017, Real Madrid became the first side in the history of the FIFA Club World Cup to retain the trophy. After arriving in the United Arab Emirates as clear favourites, the holders lived up to expectations.
They did not have things all their own way, however, and had to fight hard to overcome a combative Al Jazira side in their opening match in the semi-finals. Gareth Bale’s late strike completed a hard-fought 2-1 win for the Spanish side, who saved their best football for the final against Brazil’s Gremio.
While Cristiano Ronaldo’s solitary goal was all they had to show for their efforts in the tournament’s showpiece match, Los Blancos dominated from start to finish against the South American champions, who were perhaps fatigued following their extra-time semi-final win over Pachuca.
The Mexican outfit completed the podium at this the 14th Club World Cup, thanks to an emphatic 4-1 defeat of Al Jazira in the match for third place
Guided by experienced Dutch coach Henk ten Cate and inspired by their Brazilian striker Romarinho – who won the tournament in 2012 with Corinthians – and their keeper and captain Ali Khaseif, Al Jazira were the surprise packages of UAE 2017.
The reigning Emirati champions opened up with a 1-0 win over Auckland City and saw off Asian champions Urawa Red Diamonds by the same scoreline in the quarters.
They then pushed Real Madrid all the way in the semis and finished the tournament in a creditable fourth place.
The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was used at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 to support referees with “match-changing” decisions. As well as trialling virtual offside line technologies and referee communication systems, FIFA also tested a centralised VAR solution for the first time. The technology worked seamlessly.
“We are very happy with the use of VAR during this Club World Cup here in the UAE”, said FIFA’s Deputy Secretary General Zvonimir Boban after the final. “VAR has again performed an important role in ensuring a fair outcome in all eight games of our competition. The spirit of VAR is minimum interference for maximum benefit, which was further demonstrated during this tournament, and we have seen once again how video assistance has definitely helped referees to make the correct decisions.
“Our refereeing department is doing a great job and it is clear that we are on the right track. I would like to stress that whoever is open to this hugely important step can only be positive and embrace the protection VAR provides for football.”
1. Real Madrid
4. Al Jazira
5. Urawa Reds Diamonds
6. Wydad Athletic Club
7. Auckland City
Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain
Goals scored: 18 (an average of 2.2 per match)
Top goal scorers:
Romarinho: 2 (one assist)
Mauricio Antonio: 2
Cristiano Ronaldo: 2
adidas Golden Ball: Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
adidas Silver Ball: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
adidas Bronze Ball: Jonathan Urretaviscaya (Pachuca)
FIFA Fair Play Award: Real Madrid