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Real Madrid – San Lorenzo: The never ending rivalry between Europe and South America

Real Madrid – San Lorenzo: The never ending rivalry between Europe and South America

Posted by Juan Gavasa on December 20, 2014

Europe and South America have battled since the beginning of time for world soccer supremacy, and FIFA has deemed it correct to decide this year’s top team in the world in Morocco.

Real Madrid, UEFA Champions League winner, and San Lorenzo, Copa Libertadores champion, will face off after beating Cruz Azul and Auckland City, the reigning champions of CONCACAF and the Oceanic Regions, respectively.

The bout will showcase much more than two great teams against each other. Both clubs will carry the weight of their own continents with them, but also of history, as Real Madrid and San Lorenzo have been part of the select group of giants that have ruled their domestic competitions since the middle of the last century.

Of course, Real Madrid seems to have done a much better job at quantifying their supremacy both in Spain and Europe, as they clinched their 10th European Champions League earlier this year while San Lorenzo won only their first Libertadores 54 years after its conception, but in Morocco, during the FIFA Club World Cup final, both teams will have chance to defend their continent’s honor.

Here’s what to keep an eye out for during the match:

Real Madrid’s winning streak

To go on without losing for 21 games is an impressive feat. To actually win all of those 21 games, including a visit to Anfield Road and host FC Barcelona, is jaw-dropping. But to do so in style, scoring an average of almost four goals per game, and giving up only one goal every two matches, is something not many teams in history can even fathom.

The Merengues will face San Lorenzo with the firm intention of winning the game, in the official 90 minutes of the match, as otherwise, lifting the trophy in Morocco would leave the sour taste of defeat in fans mouths, if it means breaking such an unbelievable winning streak.

San Lorenzo wins the referee designation

The Argentine club feels one goal ahead before the start of the match. San Lorenzo actually read the rule book and asked FIFA to follow it –they wrote it, they should know it, right?– and soccer’s governing body decided to change Portuguese referee Proença for Guatemalan Walter Lopez.

Of course, there’s no saying which will be the fairest option for the game, but in the spirit of keeping the Europe-South America rivalry clean, it made sense to have a referee that was born in neither of the both continents. Chapeu to San Lorenzo’s staff for pushing FIFA on this issue.

Injuries in the middle … for both teams

Both Ancelotti and Bauza could have key injured players on midfield, and there’s no saying how their backups will perform under such pressure as the final of the FIFA Club World Cup. San Lorenzo’s manager has missed Ortigoza in his last two trainings previous to the final, although the official stance of the club is that he will play from the start.

Ancelotti, on the other hand, could already count on James Rodriguez, who suffered an injury three weeks ago against Celta de Vigo, and came to Morocco hoping to be ready to play the final. Illarramendi has done a good job covering his spot while the Colombian has been out, but has been known to not be able to deal with the pressure of the big nights. The Italian may try to get James in from the get-go, or even test Khedira next to Kroos in the middle.

San Lorenzo’s physical game

Bauza sent out the threat last week: “If we make it to the final against Real Madrid, we’ll have to get down and dirty to beat them”. Veteran Colombian defender, Mario Yepes, tried to put it from a different perspective: “We are not a violent team, but we’ll do what we have to beat Real Madrid. We are a very talented group”.

Finally, Nestor Gorosito Diaz, former player, captain and coach at San Lorenzo, a living legend, said: “If Ronaldo tries to do another “rabona”, San Lorenzo players won’t just watch and applaud, they’ll go even harder after him”. The message is quite clear, and while Ancelotti said he is not too worried about his team adapting to this kind of physical game, it is for sure one of the Cuervos’ strong suits in the final.

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