Club America (pictured) celebrates after scoring against Jeonbuk Hyundai in a FIFA Club World Cup second-round match on December 11, 2016, in Osaka, Japan. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, Japan – If Club America is to reach the final of a FIFA Club World Cup for the first time, it will have to do it the hard way by beating 11-time European champion Real Madrid on Thursday.
After last year’s FCWC disappointment – a 2-1 loss to China’s Guangzhou Evergrande in the quarterfinals – the Aguilas made sure not miss the final four this time around, rallying for a 2-1 win over Jeonbuk Hyunai in the second round on Sunday.
The 2015/16 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League winner is out to make the most of this newest opportunity.
“It is a nice challenge. We wanted to gift ourselves this match,” said Club America attacker Carlos Darwin Quintero. “Last year, we left with a sour taste in our mouths and now we can enjoy because anything can happen because of the faith that we have to beat Real Madrid.”
Club America is certainly quick to acknowledge and praise Real Madrid’s class, but not at the expense of downplaying its own talent. The 12-time Mexican champion boasts numerous competitors with plenty of international experience at the club and national team levels, including the Paraguay defender Pablo Aguilar.
“We also have quality and ones that play in their respective national teams,” Aguilar noted. “We already know about their squad, but we also have a lot of quality and we only have to show that on the playing field.
Ecuador international Michael Arroyo echoed that statement, commenting: “There are also players here of great quality. We respect Real Madrid a lot. They know what America means. They know the players we have and we are going to work with humility so that things go well.”
In its bid to upend Real Madrid, Club America can take inspiration from fellow Mexican side Necaxa, which toppled the Spanish giant, 4-3 on penalty kicks, after a 1-1 draw in the match for third place at the inaugural competition in 2000.