The Club World Cup can be a hard competition to pin down. You get there, at least as a European side, for winning the Champions League; for being the best in Europe. And if you win it, well, you’re officially best in the world.
A competition like that should matter; must matter. And yet, it’s awkwardly placed in the middle of the season, typically requires a long trip, and, well, it’s simply not a trophy that gets a whole lot of press at the end of the day.
“Sometimes it’s not the best moment because you are right in the middle of the season,” noted former Liverpool forward Florent Sinama-Pongolle, who headed to Japan with the club in 2005—and lost in the final to Sao Paulo.
“But you just try to understand that you want to win something more,” he continued, trying to put it into context. “As a player, as a team, it’s one more new experience for finishing the season at your best. It means a lot to a player.”
Best in the world. Officially. With a shiny FIFA badge to show for it if this year’s Liverpool can do what Rafa Benitez’ side couldn’t after their miracle in Istanbul and win a prize that, no matter its awkward timing, will matter to them.
It’s also a chance to face some novel, unusual opponents, with Liverpool likely to play Monterrey in the semi-final and then, if they make it past the Mexican side to reach the final, the winners of the 2019 Copa Libertadores.
“It was a great experience to play against different types of football,” Sinama-Pongolle added of his own experience at the Club World Cup. “Different cultures, South American and Asian teams. For me, everything was positive.”