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Man City look set to win first ever Club World Cup with 3-0 win over Japan’s Urawa

Manchester City is one step closer to the trophy.

City defeated Urawa Reds 3-0 on Tuesday (July 20) at the FIFA Club World Cup 2023 at King Abdullah Sports City in Saudi Arabia.

The match pitted the 2022-2023 UEFA Champions League (UCL) winners against the 2022 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Champions League (ACL) champions. City had been involved since the semifinals of the Club World Cup. Urawa defeated Club Leon (Mexico) in the quarterfinals to reach the last four, but were unable to get past Europe’s strongest team.

As a finalist, City will face Fluminense (Brazil) for the Club World Cup trophy. Fluminense defeated Al Ahly (Egypt) in the quarterfinals. Fluminense’s roster includes former Real Madrid defender Marcelo, 36, and Brazilian international midfielder Felipe Melo, 40.

Against Urawa, City used a 3-5-2 formation. Mateusz Nunes and Bernardo Silva started up top. Jack Grealish, Matteo Kovacic, Rodri, John Stones, and Phil Foden made up the midfield. Nathan Ake, Manuel Akanji, and Kyle Walker lined up at the back, with Ederson in goal.

Urawa started with Jose Kante, Yoshio Koizumi, Kaito Yasui, Tomoaki Okubo, Ken Iwao, Atsuki Ito, Takahiro Akimoto, Marius Hoebraten, Alexander Schultz, Takahiro Sekine, and Shusaku Nishigawa.

The game was one-sided. City dominated possession and put Urawa under pressure. The midfield, one of the best in the English Premier League (EPL), moved the ball around with ease, looking for cracks in Urawa’s defense. Urawa stretched his defense to keep City’s offense at bay.

City had the first real chance early on. In the 15th minute, Grealish played an exquisite through ball to Silva. Silva tried to hit it straight at him, but the ball sailed high.

In the first half, Urawa did well to stop City’s one-sided attack. City were able to strip a couple of defenders but couldn’t finish. Urawa’s defense used a physical defense to block City’s shots. Even the City players’ shots were not precise. Rodriguez, Silva, and Foden all had shots that were off target.

The shot was saved by the opposing goalkeeper. In the 31st minute, Nunes beat the defense and finished with a shot that was saved by Nishigawa. In the 35th minute, Foden’s daring mid-range effort was saved by the keeper.

City continued to pound away, but it wasn’t until first-half stoppage time that they broke through. It was a lucky break. Nunes’ cross found its way past Urawa and defender Hoiberg. City went into halftime with a 1-0 lead.

Early in the second half, City registered their second goal. In the seventh minute, Kovacic got behind Urawa and beat the keeper with a strong right-footed shot. Walker’s through ball found its way between the Urawa defense.

It practically drove a wedge into the game. In the 14th minute, Silva gave City their third goal. After Nunes’ shot was saved by the keeper, Silva finished off the second ball. The ball deflected off the defense and into the back of the net.

With the game firmly in hand, City made a number of substitutions. Silva, Foden, and Akanji came off the bench in the 19th minute, while Yossouko Gvardiol, Julian Alvarez, and Oscar Babb took the field. In the 32nd minute, Rodriguez and Stones came off for Sergio Gomes and Calvin Phillips. Urawa also made five substitutions. The game didn’t change much. It ended with a 3-0 win for City.

It was a one-sided game. According to soccer stats site Footmob, City had 25 shots and 74% possession on the day. That’s a lot of possession and shots on goal. Urawa had just two shots on goal. None of them were on target.

Urawa avoided a much worse defeat thanks to their goalkeeper. Seven of City’s shots on goal were on Nishigawa. They had 13 shots in the box. From the midfield, City’s attack was difficult to control.

The passing metrics were also dominant. City had a 94% passing success rate (775/826). Of those, 520 were in the opponent’s half. They trapped Urawa above the halfway line. Of Urawa’s 225 passes, only 63 were successful in the City zone. His success rate on long passes was only 45%. He was forced to clear the ball under City’s pressure.

Meanwhile, City managed to keep their first-team players fit. Starting center back Jubeng Dias remained on the bench until the end of the game. Elling Holland, who was questionable, watched from the sidelines alongside Jeremy Dockoo. Kevin De Bruyne, who recently returned to training, was also in attendance.

After winning the club’s first-ever Champions League title and treble last season, City are on track to win their first ever Club World Cup. In his post-match interview, City manager Pep Guardiola said: “We have never won the Club World Cup. Only Fluminense and the final remain. We will win it.”
The 2022-2023 season was dominated by City. They won their third consecutive Premier League title and the English Football Association (FA) Cup trophy. They also won the coveted UEFA Champions League. In the final, City defeated Inter Milan (Italy) 1-0 on penalties.

The UCL winners are the favorites to win the Club World Cup. There have been upsets. In the past, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Chelsea have failed to win their first Club World Cup.

Meanwhile, City’s final opponent, Fluminense, beat African champions Al Ahly 2-0 on Sept. 19. Al Ahly were evenly matched from the start against Fluminense. They even had a couple of clear-cut chances early on. However, they were denied by the physical defense of veteran defender Melu. Fluminense threatened the Al Ahli goal with a series of dangerous set pieces.

The first, and eventual game-winner, came with 20 minutes to go. John Arias converted a penalty kick to give Al Ahly the lead. The former Real Madrid defender showed off his rusted class with an exquisite dribble to tease the opposing defense. It set the stage for a penalty kick.

John Kennedy scored the winner just before the end of regulation. Fluminense had reached the final.

The final between City and Fluminense will take place on May 23 at 3:00 am. Al Ahly and Urawa will meet in the third- and fourth-place matches on Dec. 22. If City wins the Club World Cup, it will be their fifth trophy of the year (Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup).

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