Marrajech- Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola has admitted that his team will face a hostile reception in Saturday's Club World Cup final against Raja Casablanca in Marrakech.
Marrajech- Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola has admitted that his team will face a hostile reception in Saturday’s Club World Cup final against Raja Casablanca in Marrakech.
Raja are playing in the competition as champions of the host nation and created a huge shock by beating South American champions Atletico Mineiro in the semi-finals on Wednesday.
European champions Bayern are the stronger side on paper, but Guardiola has been impressed with Raja’s performances thus far and they will have a large and passionate support behind them in the final.
“I don’t think Atletico Mineiro underestimated Raja Casablanca. Raja were simply very good, very intense,” said Guardiola, whose team are aiming to win a fifth trophy in the calendar year to go with their triumphs in the Champions League, Bundesliga, German Cup and European Super Cup.
“People thought that the European and South American teams would both win and get to the final, but there are always teams that play with heart and you could see from the way they celebrated. We will be playing against an entire country that will be there helping them.”
Before beating Atletico Mineiro, Raja got the better of Oceanian champions Auckland City and also saw off Monterrey of Mexico after extra-time in the quarter-finals.
“They are a talented team and well organised in defence. I am impressed by their quality and my players know that.
“We will be the away side. I was at the semi-final between Raja and Atletico Mineiro and, after leaving the stadium, within 10 or 15 minutes the people were on the streets going crazy. I realised how important this is for the country.
“The king of Morocco will be there, which shows how important this is. It is good to play in such an atmosphere,” added the former Barcelona boss, who won the Club World Cup with the Catalans in 2009 and 2011 but knows the tournament does not boast a great reputation in Europe.
“This is a very important competition for me. It is the third time I have been here representing a European team and each one I have viewed as a unique opportunity in my life.”
No African team has ever won the Club World Cup, and Raja are only the second team from the continent to reach the final after Tout Puissant Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who lost to Inter Milan in 2010.
Raja’s Tunisian coach Faouzi Benzarti, who was only appointed days before the competition started, is hopeful that his players can spring what would be a huge surprise.
“Of course Bayern are a great club, I think even the biggest in the world at the moment. But we will try to exploit their little weaknesses and take them by surprise,” he said before adding that trying to contain Ballon d’Or candidate Franck Ribery holds no great fears.
“We were asked the same question about Ronaldinho before our match against Atletico Mineiro…Ribery is a brilliant player, but we will try to press him whenever he gets the ball.
“Every team that plays in the European Champions League has great players and, for Bayern, Ribery is just one of them.”