Read our preview of the Club World Cup which kicks off on Thursday. Teams, players, tactics, coaches and more...
Club America (Mexico)
The story so far
America are in the Club World Cup for a second successive year after beating fellow Mexican side Tigres in the Final of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Last year, they disappointed in Japan by losing in the quarter-finals to Asian champions Guangzhou Evergrande, so the main goal this time will be at least to improve on that participation and reach the semi-finals, where they would face Real Madrid.
Despite being Mexico’s most popular side, and one of the richest, America’s squad doesn’t have any big stars.
The team is built on balance, with quality players in every position but no flashy signings, to the dismay of the fans who had grown used to seeing players such as Hugo Sanchez, Ivan Zamorano, Claudio Lopez, Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Salvador Cabanas.
Fans have grown even more restless because 2016 is America’s centenary year but the team has failed to deliver so far. Both the centenary anthem and kit turned out to be bad copies of better European versions, there wasn’t any celebration match, and the results on the pitch have left a lot to be desired. The Club World Cup would be the team’s last chance to make amends.
Despite a distinctive lack of silverware, Ricardo La Volpe is one of the most reputed coaches in Mexico. A tactical genius, he’s often cited by Pep Guardiola as one of his influences. Back at the club after a disastrous stint in the 90s.
The fact that Oribe Peralta is currently fourth choice for Mexico’s national side says it all about this America team. He’s a consistent and clever striker who has kept in fine form despite being almost 33-years old.
La Volpe usually encourages his wing-backs to push forward as two attacking midfielders dictate the tempo of the game. In the run-up
to Japan he tested different systems, even trying a back four – which is extremely unusual for him. However, when it comes to the start of the tournament he is most likely to stick with what he knows best.