Can Barca make it a hat trick of Club World Cup titles?.

Barcelona vs. River Plate: 3 things that will shape Club World Cup Final

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Even without the twin terrors of Neymar and Lionel Messi, Barcelona still swept aside Guangzhou Evergrande in the semi-finals of the Club World Cup.

Luis Suarez stepped up to supply his third hat-trick of the year and, impressively, his 19th goal in the last 17 appearances for the Blaugrana.

Barca will start the final against River Plate as favourites, but they may want to remember back to 2009 when a last-minute Pedro Rodriguez goal took the game to extra-time and an eventual win.


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Prior to the current Chelsea star's intervention, the Catalans were second best and a little too blasé, something that they've been accused of just recently against Valencia and Deportivo La Coruna.

Both of those La Liga games could've been won at a canter but complacency appeared to author Barca's downfall and the four points dropped means that the likelihood of Atletico Madrid topping the table over Christmas is high.

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Luis Enrique will ensure all thoughts of the league and European competition are put aside as he and his side go hunting for Barcelona's third Club World Cup trophy.

Let's take a look at three things that could shape the outcome of the match...

Packed River defence

If Barcelona want to win the final then they will have to do so by way of breaking down a well-drilled River Plate defence.

Not only that, but a five-man back line to frustrate the Catalans could well be on the cards here, with Marcelo Gallardo opting to hit Barca on the counter attack.

If the Blaugrana play their usual high-line and River break at pace, there's every chance that Barca will be over-run at the back, meaning that this final isn't necessarily the foregone conclusion that many expect.


Superior play

Regardless of whether River do decide to 'park the bus' for want of a better phrase, Barcelona have generally held all of the aces over the last year or so.

Many teams have tried, and failed, to keep Barca at bay for the full ninety minutes, whether or not they have played the Catalans at their own game or preferred to sit back and take their chances as and when appropriate.

Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic are integral to the way in which Barca get the ball forward to their attacking trio and if anything, River need to concentrate on winning the midfield battles if they want to be able to take the game to their opponents.

Barcelona v Guangzhou Evergrande FC - FIFA Club World Cup Semi Final


One thing is almost certain. River will turn the pitch into a battleground.

The Argentinians niceties will stop with the pre-match handshake.

Barca need to be fully immersed in proceedings without fear of their players being injured, equally they have to steel themselves from an expected barrage from their opponents.

The best way to counter any rough stuff will be to make the final a formality with an early goal or two.

Ex-River man Javier Mascherano may have an inkling of his former club's modus operandi and some inside knowledge could come in handy.


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