Reigning European champions Bayern Munich will set their sights on the FIFA Club World Cup as they take on Tigres UANL in the final on Thursday.

Hansi Flick will have another opportunity to add to his fascinating trophy haul during his short managerial stint as his Bayern Munich side take on Tigres UANL in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup on Thursday. The club is also looking to secure their fourth intercontinental title in their history, though only one of those came after it was renamed in 2006.

Indeed, Bayern’s recent triumph in the competition came back in 2013 when they beat Raja Casablanca. Prior to this, they had beaten Cruzeiro in 1976 and Boca Juniors in 2001. Another win on Thursday could see them become only the second European side to register six trophies in just 12 months, joining FC Barcelona, who achieved the feat back in 2010 under Pep Guardiola.

Their opponents in Tigres, though, could be a particularly tricky one. Representing the CONCACAF region, the Mexican outfit is regarded as one of the most successful football clubs in North America and are the reigning champions of the continent, having won the CONCACAF Champions League last season.

Although Tigres have appeared quite weak in the Mexican League, they are coming on the back of a narrow win over Brazilian giants Palmeiras, which is indicative of their ability to spring a surprise. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will be taking a closer look at these two teams ahead of this eye-catching final of the FIFA Club World Cup on Thursday.

Team News & Tactics

Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich have confirmed the unavailability of Jerome Boateng heading into this game. The defender has flown back to Munich following the death of his ex-girlfriend, opening up an excellent opportunity for Niklas Sule to get some game-time ahead of Monday’s match-up against Arminia Bielefeld in the Bundesliga.

It will be interesting to see how the German’s robust style of play fares against rather pacy and mobile attackers of Tigres. Bayern do, however, have their own pacy centre-back in David Alaba, with Sule himself known for his deceiving pace. It will be key to maintaining a high line of defence that will further incorporate the two full-backs in Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies.

Moving ahead, Marc Roca’s performance against Al Ahly on Monday was one of the talking points of that semi-final clash. With Leon Goretzka out and Corentin Tolisso still lacking full fitness, it could be an ideal opportunity for the Spaniard to further impress Flick with his ability to rotate possession and win the ball back for his team.

It could be particularly important alongside Joshua Kimmich. The German international is expected to operate in an advanced role, with more emphasis on creating chances for his team. His deliveries from set-pieces are likely to cause a stir in the Tigres defence this midweek.

In the attacking unit, it was surprising to see Flick not starting Jamal Musiala ahead of Kingsley Coman. While the German tactician is likely to make one change this time around, it could see Leroy Sane returning to the starting eleven, with Coman set to be rested ahead of the Arminia Bielefeld encounter.

Sane should pair up with Thomas Muller and Serge Gnabry as usual, forming the creative trifecta just behind the main forward in Robert Lewandowski.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Sule, Alaba, Davies; Kimmich, Roca; Gnabry, Muller, Sane; Lewandowski

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Tigres UANL

Tigres UANL manager Ricardo Ferretti pulled off an impressive defensive performance in the semi-final against Palmeiras, with two banks of four defending the goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman.

Carlos Salcedo will be a focal point of the Tigres defence this midweek, alongside Diego Reyes. The 27-year-old centre-back has played in the Bundesliga for a couple of years with Eintracht Frankfurt, making 26 league appearances. He is also a key player for the Mexican national team so his experience could be critical in dealing with the likes of Lewandowski and Muller.

The two full-backs, along with the midfielders should provide the additional support required, most likely in a narrow shape that could prevent Bayern Munich from making use of their interplay in the final third.

From an attacking perspective, the midfielders could be key in providing the creativity to the table. The duo of Rafael Carioca and Guido Pizzaro, in particular, will look to provide long balls in behind the backline, as Tigres hope to utilise the pace of Aquino and the experience of two centre-forwards in Andre-Pierre Gignac and Carlos Gonzalez.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Guzman; Rodriguez, Salcedo, Reyes, Duenas; Aquino, Pizarro, Carioca, Quinones; Gignac, Gonzalez

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Key Stats

  • Robert Lewandowski’s brace against Al Ahly means he has 29 goals in 27 competitive outings this season.
  • Bayern Munich lifted the FIFA Club World Cup trophy for the last time in 2013, with Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, David Alaba, Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez the only players still at the club since then.
  • A team from the UEFA confederation has won the Club World Cup in 12 of the 16 editions it has been played to date.
  • Tigres UANL are the first Mexican side ever to reach a Club World Cup final.
  • Andre-Pierre Gignac has three goals in two games in Qatar, his winner against Palmeiras adding to his brace against Ulsan Hyundai FC in the second round.

Player to Watch

Marc Roca

As mentioned earlier, Marc Roca was quite influential in the semi-final against Al Ahly. It will thus be an important game for the midfielder, who has been on the fringes of coach Hansi Flick’s gameplan, primarily due to the wealth of midfield options the German usually has at his disposal.

However, the absence of Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez, coupled with Corentin Tolisso’s fitness issues, has paved the way for Roca to finally make a push for the first-team. The Spaniard already scored his first goal for the club in the last game, showcasing impressive positional sense and an ability to win the ball back.

This time around, Roca’s technical play in the holding midfield role could be critical in offering Joshua Kimmich the additional freedom to exercise his creative quality. It also makes him a target man for Tigres midfielders as they attempt to minimise the influence of the former Espanyol starlet.

Prediction

Bayern Munich 1-0 Tigres UANL

Despite the gulf of difference in terms of quality between the two sticks, this could turn out to be yet another tight game, especially from Bayern Munich’s perspective. Their Mexican rivals are likely to defend deep and frustrate the attackers, so the game could be decided on the finest of margins. The Bavarians also need to be careful of Tigres’ offensive play, with the Mexicans likely flood long balls out from the back.

But, ultimately, Bayern Munich should have the quality to eke out a narrow victory and lift the FIFA Club World Cup.

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