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The FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco gets into full swing on Saturday when the quarter-finals take place featuring four teams dreaming of playing either San Lorenzo or Real Madrid.
Setif and Auckland will fight for the right to face CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores champion San Lorenzo and then it will be the turn of Cruz Azul and Western Sydney to battle it out for a FIFA Club World Cup semi-final tie versus the UEFA Champions League winner, Real Madrid. It is the match between Cruz Azul and Western Sydney that interests one.
Neither Cruz Azul, which qualified for the FIFA Club World Cup by winning the CONCACAF Champions League, nor Western Sydney, which made history by becoming the first Australia winner of the AFC Champions League, is in good form. Crul Azul is 17th on the Mexican Liga MX ladder after 17 rounds following five wins, six draws and six losses even though its defensive record is the joint best in the division. Western Sydney is bottom of the Australian A-League ladder after nine rounds, failing to win any of its nine games as it struggles to deal with a tortuous itinerary. And even Western Sydney fans would conceded that the Wanderers are much better at defending than they are at attacking.
The big-priced bet that stands out in the FIFA Club World Cup match between Cruz Azul and Western Sydney is a 0-0 draw at the end of normal time, an option that is available at odds of +800 with Bet365 and William Hill.
Four of Cruz Azul’s 17 Mexican Liga MX games have failed to produce a single goal, with its matches averaging 1.82 goals and 11 of them going under two and a half goals. Cruz Azul has not won any of its last 13 away games, which when one thinks about it is a remarkable statistic for a side that won the CONCACAF Champions League last month.
Not since Steaua Bucaresti won the 1986 UEFA European Cup final has a team been luckier to win a continental crown than Western Sydney. The two-legged AFC Champions League final between Western Sydney and Al Hilal was one-way traffic except for the 64th minute of the first leg when Tomi Juric scored for the Wanderers against the run of play. Western Sydney held on to beat Al Hilal 1-0 at Parramatta Stadium and then somehow – it is still a mystery to anyone who watched the match at the King Fahd International Stadium – the Wanderers got away with a title-winning 0-0 draw. Al Hilal’s players let down themselves with their behaviour after the final whistle but they did have not one, not two but three legitimate appeals for penalty kicks ignored.
Western Sydney’s AFC Champions League success was built on strong defence and incisive counter attacks. Western Sydney still has its strong defence but, after changing personnel over the last few months, its ability to launch incisive counter attacks is not as good as it was. One can see Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic setting up the Wanderers to play for extra time and penalties because the pragmatist in him may see that as his side’s best chance of qualifying for the FIFA Club World Cup semi-finals and a dream date with James Rodriguez, Cristiano Ronaldo and friends.
Sure, one thinks that there are some safer bets in the FIFA Club World Cup quarter-final between Cruz Azul and Western Sydney than speculating on a 0-0 draw. For example, under two and a half goals at -149 with many bookmakers, including Betfred and Totesport, is a definite goer. But, for the purposes of nominating an option at a big price that has a live chance, 0-0 at odds of +800 is one’s selection.
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