At 7:30 in the morning on Sunday (Argentine time), Boca Juniors will take on A.C. Milan of Italy in Tokyo for the final of the Club World Cup 2007. The right to be crowned champions of the world will once again be played out between the champions of Europe and South America, in the third edition of the new-look tournament which allows for the possibility of other continental champs getting to the showpiece.
This year’s final is a re-run of the 2003 Intercontinental Cup which was won on penalties by Boca after a 1-1 draw. Boca have a good omen – Sebastián Battaglia will play, and he’s never yet lost in a final with Boca (by contrast, every time he’s been unavailable for one, they have lost). Further than the rematch, though, Sunday’s game is also a tie-breaker: these two clubs are the ones with more international titles than any others, currently tied on 17 apiece.
One of these clubs, then, will be out on their own with 18 in twelve short hours. Boca legend Diego Maradona has already demonstrated the tactical acumen that won him so many admirers during his spell in management (ahem) by pointing out, perfectly straight-faced and as if it weren’t the most blindingly obvious fact in the world, that Milan playmaker Kaká is rather a good footballer. ‘He’s shown that he’s the best player in the world,’ stated Diego. Surely that’s the most boring thing he’s ever said?
He went on, in fairness, to venture the suggestion that if Boca can annul the Brazilian’s threat, they can make it a hell of a lot easier for themselves to win the match. A certain Argentine midfielder managed to keep Liverpool in the Champions League final earlier this year by marking Kaká out of the game for 75 minutes, until Rafael Benítez went insane and replaced Javier Mascherano with Peter Crouch and Kaká promptly set up Pippo Inzaghi for his and Milan’s second goal, putting the game beyond the English side. So Maradona may have a point. At the other end, Martín Palermo will need to be as on top form.
If nothing else, let’s just hope it’s a better game than the last two finals of this tournament have been.
Boca Juniors starting XI (managed by Miguel Angel Russo):
Ibarra —- Maidana —- Paletta —- Morel Rodríguez
A. González —- Battaglia —- Cardozo
Palacio —- Palermo
A.C. Milan starting XI (managed by Carlo Ancelotti):
Oddo —- Nesta —- Kaladze —- Jankulovski
Gattuso —- Pirlo —- Ambrosini
Kaká —- Seedorf
Gilardino OR Inzaghi