Since its inception in 2005, the Club World Cup has been dominated, somewhat predictably, by European sides. The Champions League is the pinnacle of club football and its champions are therefore expected to triumph against the best of what the rest of the world has to offer.
Only three European clubs have failed to life the trophy since 2005 and two of them were English – Liverpool in 2005 and Chelsea in 2012 when both clubs were far below their peaks.
Liverpool are long odds on to become the seventh successive European club to return home with the trophy and justifiably so, considering they are one of the best teams in club football.
Against Monterrey on Wednesday 17.30 on BBC2, they should experience little trouble.
Make no mistake, the Mexicans have been in excellent form recently and are unbeaten in their last 14 games in all competitions in a run that spans over two months of football. However, it’s hard to gauge how impressive that feat is in Mexico, especially considering they finished eighth in the regular league season.
All told, a Liverpool side that has lost just one of their 25 competitive games so far this season should have far too much for them and should run out comfortable victors.
With temperatures in Qatar being relatively low in the mid-20s, heat shouldn’t even be a deciding factor here so an open game is expected. With both sides in such good form we fancy a few goals and over 3.5 goals @ EVS looks the play.
Selection: Over 3.5 goals in the game @ 1/1
If we want to hit the goals tally of over 3.5, we’ll likely need both teams to score – and that’s a fair shout. Defensive lapses have plagued Liverpool this season and they only recorded their first home clean sheet during Saturday’s win over Watford. Virgil Van Dijk has not looked nearly as watertight as he did last season and teams are scoring against them with increased regularity.
In fact, they conceded just eight more league goals over the course of the entire season last year than their 17 league games to date.
While they may seem to have steadied the ship of late, keeping clean sheets in their last three games in all competitions, they are still coughing up a plethora of chances. Both RB Salzburg and Watford carved them open on numerous occasions and were both guilty of spurning excellent chances.
Monterrey have also found the back of the net in their last 15 games and their chances of making it 16 in a row on Wednesday look relatively good.
Selection: Both teams to score @ 3/4
The Reds’ excellent form this season is a result of a number of contributing factors, but the performances of Sadio Mane up front have been perhaps the most important.
The Senegalese striker has been pivotal in almost everything good from a Liverpool perspective this season. When their defence was uncharacteristically porous, Mane has led the line to ensure that they have not been costly slips. When Mohamed Salah, it has mainly been Mane picking up his slack not just with his goals, but with his general play.
Favourite to land the PFA Player of the Year gong, Mane has been phenomenal, but is enduring something of a mini-drought recently, failing to score in five of Liverpool’s last six games. He will want to improve on that record on Wednesday, especially considering he had one chalked off by VAR on Saturday.
Selection: Sadio Mane to score anytime @ 4/5
*Prices correct at time of publishing