FIFA Club World Cup semifinals: A Look Ahead

Messi (Getty Images)  Neymar (Reuters Pictures)

The opening acts at the FIFA Club World Cup were pretty entertaining. Now Lionel Messi and Neymar are ready for center stage and perhaps a final duel that would pit South America's preeminent attacking talents against each other.

The first few games at the tournament have provided some great theater, with host Kashiwa Reysol stealing the show with two victories, including a penalty-kick triumph over CONCACAF champion Monterrey.

While the hosts have carried the action so far, the two marquee entrants in the tournament are set to take over. Barcelona and Santos enter in this week's semifinals with each being a win away from setting up a dream championship matchup between two star-studded, attack-minded powerhouses that span the globe.

Neymar and fellow Brazilian up-and-comer Ganso lead Santos against Kashiwa (Wednesday, 5:30 a.m., Fox Soccer Channel). After Santos qualified by winning the Copa Libertadores, both players placed an enormous amount of stress on being able to compete in this worldwide showcase (spurning transfer offers in the process), meaning that Kashiwa has its toughest task of the tournament on the way. Then again, for a team that went from second division to top-flight champion in two seasons, perhaps Kashiwa has another surprise in the works.

Barcelona, meanwhile, is coming off an emotional weekend after battling back to take three points from Real Madrid in the Clasico. After nearly a 7,000-mile trip to the east, the defending European champions brace themselves for Thursday's match against Qatari club Al-Sadd (Thursday, 5:30 a.m., Fox Soccer Channel), which advanced after trumping African entrant Esperance in the quarterfinals.

Monterrey and Esperance will look to salvage something from their trip by playing in Wednesday's fifth-place game (2:30 a.m., Fox Soccer Channel).

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Excited for the Club World Cup semifinals? Do you think there's any chance we don't see a Santos-Barcelona final?

Share your thoughts below.

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12 Responses to FIFA Club World Cup semifinals: A Look Ahead

  1. Kevin_Amold says:

    I need to see Neymar in a whole game and not just in the highlight videos I’ve seen. How does he operate? What does he do off the ball? I’m excited to see him. Provided I can get up at 3:30 AM Arizona time….I really need a DVR.

  2. marco says:

    I believe Santos is in 10th place, how did they qualify? Last year NYRB took Neymar out of the game with a couple of hard tackles. ESPN author says he gets a lot of protection in Brazil.

  3. Syd says:

    Very much looking forward to these games….It’s a shame Conccafaf reps Monterrey are out of the mix though.

  4. DCLee says:

    These should be some entertaining games!! Hope an MLS team is repping CONCACAF in this tourney shortly!

  5. hogatroge says:

    They didn’t have CONCACAF refs to hand them the victory.

    j/k, btw, but only partially

  6. Colin says:

    Neymar is the truth.

  7. Kashiwa says:

    “We are Kashiwa, Stupid”

  8. Marco says:

    Esperance was robbed of their game-tying goal. It will be a tough game for Al-Saad vs. Barca. Santos/Kashiwa should be a great game.

  9. Alex says:

    If LA keeps Donovan, Gonzalez, and gets someone to replace Beckham and Cristman (hahahahahaha, Cristman) than I could see them going far in the CONCACAF Champs League.

  10. JP says:

    Santos and Barcelona can be a match up for the ages.

  11. soccerhorn says:

    I think they qualified by winning the Copa Libertadores.

  12. soccerhorn says:

    Agreed. Galaxy is first team in a while that looks like it could last in the larger club Cup competitions. The problem is, any other club from anywhere else in the world, they advance far enough, they sign a few new guys to strengthen their lineup. Galaxy is still bound by the MLS salary cap. So even if they get to the Club World Cup finals (that’s huge if), they would still be stuck with the Christmans of the world. Three DP’s, and after that, you better hope you drafted well!