Monday, December 21, 2009

'Other' World Cup: Barcelona Wins That, Too

In the Old News department ...

Barcelona concluded 2009 with an unprecedented six trophies by winning the Club World Cup here in Abu Dhabi, 2-1, over a determined and upset-minded Estudiantes club.

First, let's recap the six trophies Barca hoisted in calendar in 2009. Get ready ...

1. La Liga championship, 2008-09.

2. Copa del Rey, 2008-09.

3. Supercopa de Espana, 2008-09.

4. UEFA Champions League, 2008-09.

5. UEFA Super Cup.

6. Club World Cup.

They may need to build an annex on Camp Nou for all that hardware.

To explain ... La Liga is the regular-season championship for top Spanish clubs; Copa del Rey is like the FA Cup -- every pro club in Spain plays until there is a winner; Supercopa de Espana is semi-silly, a home-and-home playoff between the winner and runnerup of the Copa del Rey that has been held only eight times; the Champions League is made up of the top clubs in Europe; the Uefa Super Cup pits the winner of the Champions League against the winner of the Uefa Cup (the competition for the not-quite-as-successful Euro club teams); and the Club World Cup is six continental champions.

Maybe too many trophies. Do we (or Spain) really need the Supercopa de Espana?

Anyway, the Club World Cup went over very well here ... at least once it reached the semifinals and Estudiantes and, especially, star-studded Barcelona got involved.

Both Barcelona matches were played before capacity crowds. Barcelona trailed Atlante of Mexico 1-0 in the semi before rallying to win 2-1, with Lionel Messi coming on as a sub to score the tying goal in the second half. And in the final, Estudiantes, the South American champion from Argentina, led 1-0 on a Mauro Boselli goal in the 37th minute ... and hung on doggedly ... until Pedro tied for Barca in the 89th minute.

Messi put Barcelona ahead in the first half of extra time, and then Barca held off Estudiantes' desperate attempts to get even again.

So, yes, a success, and Abu Dhabi seems to be looking forward to another round of this in December of 2010. Though it seems unlikely anyone will be going for six trophies while here in the UAE.

The Club World Cup may be seen as overkill by jaded Europeans, but it's a pretty big deal for the rest of the planet's top clubs.

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