Bayern triumphs in Club World Cup

Bayern triumphs in Club World Cup

MARAKECH - Reuters
Bayern triumphs in Club World Cup

This photo shows an increasingly familiar scene from Bayern Munich players as they celebrate the Club World Cup victory, their fifth trophy in 2013. AFP photo

Bayern Munich swatted aside Raja Casablanca 2-0 in a one-sided Club World Cup final on Dec. 21 that did little to boost the credibility of a tournament which struggled to an anti-climax.

Morocco came to a standstill, an army of Raja fans travelled 250km to the game and King Mohamed was among the 37,000 crowd only for Bayern to wrap it up under half an hour.

Defender Dante and midfielder Thiago Alcantara scored the goals on a chilly evening as Bayern added to the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup titles they won last season and continued European dominance of the tournament.

European teams have won six of the last seven titles, with Brazilian side Corinthians interrupting the sequence last year, and Saturday’s stroll may reinforce the view that it is little more than a pleasant excursion for them before the winter break.

Bayern scored five goals without conceding any in their two games as they added to the two Intercontinental Cup titles they won in 1976 and 2001. They emulated Manchester United, in 1999, and Inter Milan, in 2010, by winning a league, cup, Champions League and world club quadruple in the same year.

Raja, who changed coaches one week before the start of the tournament, had qualified as champions of host nation Morocco rather than of Africa and had already stunned the CONCACAF representatives Monterrey and South America’s Atletico Mineiro.

But a powerful Bayern team, unbeaten in the Bundesliga since October last year, proved a bridge too far for a side who are a modest ninth in their own league.

Nervous hosts

“They were a little bit nervous because of the crowd, and the presence of his majesty the King,” Raja coach Faouzi Benzarti told reporters. “We were not very aggressive, we were a bit soft.”

Benzarti said he was already preparing his players for the less glamorous world of the Moroccan Botola Pro league.

“It will be difficult but we have to return to reality,” he said. “We will do everything we can for them to be prepared. This competition will be here again next year, so we have to win the title to qualify again.”

His opposite number Pep Guardiola was critical of his Bayern team for not creating more chances after they had gone ahead.

“We started well and played a very good half hour but after that we forgot to attack,” he said. “It’s not easy to play against a team when you’re 2-0 up and you don’t know them very well.

“We have to play until the last minute, that’s what our profession demands. We passed the ball well but without much intention of creating chances.” Guardiola, who won the same tournament as coach of Barcelona in 2009 and 2011, said the credit lay with predecessor Jupp Heynckes who led Bayern to the treble last season. “This belongs much more to Jupp and his team than to us,” he said.

False nine

Guardiola started without a recognised striker as winger Xherdan Shaqiri replaced Mario Mandzukic.
Raja, the second team from outside Europe or South America to reach the final, were only briefly in the contest. Mouhssine Iajour fired wide from a half chance in the fifth minute and from that moment the hosts were chasing the game.

Two minutes later, Jerome Boateng headed on a corner to Dante who was left all alone in the penalty area and scored emphatically with a shot on the turn.

Raja goalkeeper Khalid Askri was tested by Thomas Mueller and David Alaba before Thiago Alcantara scored from the edge of the area after Alaba pulled the ball back.

Bayern were in almost complete control with 73 percent of possession although goalkeeper Manuel Neuer offered Raja a chance with a poor clearance in the 38th minute and Chemseddine Chtibi’s effort flew just wide of the goal.

The second half was a continuation of the pattern in the first period, with Bayern again enjoying nearly all the possession and Shaqiri hit the bar.

Raja occasionally looked dangerous. Iajour forced Neuer into his first genuine save with a close-range header in the 57th and he also had to block efforts by Vivien Madibe and Badr Kachani.