Palmeiras have secured their spot in a first ever Club World Cup final thanks to their 2-0 win over Al Ahly in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
The Copa Libertadores champions were in the Club World Cup for the second consecutive season, having also claimed Conmebol’s crown in 2020 but their first appearance did not go down well. Brazilian sides seem to take the Club World Cup the most seriously of all the teams involved, looking to prove themselves often against their European counterparts, but Palmeiras exited with a whimper.
Entering the 2020 Club World Cup at the semi-final stage, Palmeiras were beaten 1-0 by Mexican side UANL and then failed to scored in the third-place play-off, beaten on penalties by Al Ahly following a goalless draw.
But Palmeiras got their revenge on the Egyptians this time around thanks to goals from Raphael Veiga and Dudu.
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It was a game that Palmeiras largely dominated, with Al Ahly sitting back and looking to catch the Brazilians on the counter attack, but for most of the first half they were frustrated until Veiga struck. Winning the ball back after good pressure in the opposition half, Palmeiras cut through the Al Ahly defence in two passes one of which was Dudu playing in Veiga, who beat the goalkeeper first-time.
The goal was Veiga’s 29th for Palmeiras in all competitions since Abel Ferreira took charge, the most of any player at the club during that time, while also adding to his opener in the 2021 Copa Libertadores final. Veiga and Dudu linked up one again less than five minutes after half-time to double Palmeiras lead, this time in reverse.
From another quick break, Veiga flicked the ball onto Dudu who ran into space and rifled his shot past Ali Lotfi from a tight angle, putting Palmeiras into a comfortable position. Al Ahly thought they had got a goal back with 20 minutes left to play as a long-range effort was fumbled by Weverton for Mohamed Sherif to tap in but it was disallowed for offside, and Palmeiras managed to hold on.
Palmeiras’ attention will now turn to Saturday’s final where they will face either Al Hilal or Chelsea, looking to claim their first Club World Cup. But for now there is still some time to celebrate both for Palmeiras and for the nation of Brazil, who have now moved clear as the most successful country in Club World Cup history.
Brazil have now produced more finalists than they other nation in Club World Cup history, with Palmeiras the ninth team to reach the showpiece. The very first Club World Cup final was an all-Brazilian affair as Corinthians beat Vasco da Gama on penalties, in a tournament that was hosted by Brazil (hence the dual participants).
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After the tournament took a five-year break, it returned in 2005 and so did Brazil’s dominance with Sao Paulo beating Liverpool and then Internacional taking the crown ahead of Barcelona. There was then a lull of four seasons without a Brazilian side in the final but Santos and Corinthians made it five and six respectively. For Santos it was a losing appearance, beaten by Barcelona, but Corinthians claimed their second and Brazil’s fourth crown by beating European champions Chelsea.
Since that victory, Brazilian sides had struggled to even reach the final, with Gremio ending the drought in 2017 though they lost to Real Madrid. That drought did also allow Spain to catch up and eventually overtake Brazil for final participants, with Real Madrid and Barcelona combining for eight overall by 2018.
Flamengo’s defeat to Liverpool in the final in 2019 drew Brazil back level and now they are clear, thanks to Palmeiras in Abu Dhabi. All that’s left for the Alviverde is to go on and become the fourth Brazilian club to win the Club World Cup and fifth overall winner (with Corinthians having won twice).
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