Kashiwa Reysol vs Santos Match Preview
Led by the brilliant Neymar South American champions Santos open their Club World Cup quest against Kashiwa Reysol on Wednesday.
19-year-old Neymar is Santos' prized possession
Santos and Kashiwa Reysol lock horns at the Toyota stadium on Wednesday for a place in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup. All eyes will be glued on Santos prodigy Neymar, who along with classy playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso and scoring-machine Borges, will be called upon for Santos' attacking firepower.
Neymar, in particular, has attracted the attention of several of Europe's top clubs, due to his consistently brilliant performances in the Brazilian championship and in the Copa Libertadores, where he played a key role as Santos edged Penarol of Uruguay 2-1 to win their third title.
The Brazilian international will be hoping to be in top form against Kashiwa Reysol in order to lead Santos to what could possibly be a final showdown against European champions FC Barcelona.
But in order to reach the final, Santos have to overcome recently crowned J League champions Kashiwa Reysol, a team that eliminated both Auckland City of New Zealand and Monterrey of Mexico before reaching this instance.
While Kashiwa cruised to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Auckland, they ousted the Mexicans on penalty kicks after the score was deadlocked at 1-1 over the 120 minutes. The greatest strengths of the Japanese is clearly their discipline and organisation brought by Brazilian manager Nelsinho Baptista, while their flair can be found from the feet of fellow Brazilian midfielders Leandro Domingues and Jorge Wagner.
The only Kashiwa player that featured against Monterrey on Sunday who could be in doubt for the match is Hiroki Sugeno. The defender felt the recurrence of the knock to his knee that he received against Auckland City against the Mexicans.
Meanwhile, Muricy Ramalho, the coach of Santos, will be able to count with his entire squad, apart from midfielder Adriano, who sustained an injury coming into the competition. Ramalho is also likely to replace aging left-back Leo with 26-year-old defender Bruno Rodrigo.
Due to the abundance of talent in the Santos squad, with players like Neymar, Ganso, Borges, Elano, Arouca and outstanding goalkeeper Rafael, Santos are expected to breeze past the Japanese champions.
But it would be a big mistake for Santos to underestimate Kashiwa, as was the case last year when much-hyped Brazilian side Internacional of Porto Alegre were eliminated at the semi-final stage of the competition at the hands of then-African champions TP Mazembe.
If Santos maintain their concentration throughout the entire ninety minutes, and provide adequate service for star striker Neymar, they should overcome Kashiwa without any problems. While Santos have never participated in the revamped Club World Cup before, they lifted the Intercontinental Cup twice, in 1962 and 1963, by the hand of the great Pele.
Kashiwa Reysol vs Santos Match Report
Neymar stars as Santos reach the final of the Club World Cup after cruising past Kashiwa Reysol on Wednesday.
Neymar scored a brilliant opening goal for Santos
Neymar took advantage of his Club World Cup debut by scoring an extraordinary goal to lead Santos to a comfortable 3-1 victory over Kashiwa Reysol, a result that sent the Brazilians into the final of the competition which takes place on December 18.
Santos' opponents in the final will either be European champions Barcelona or Asian champions Al Sadd, who face-off in Yokohama on Thursday.
Both teams pushed to the attack immediately from the kick-off in a swift beginning to the game at the Toyota stadium. Teenage prodigy Neymar almost gave Santos an early lead in the 4th minute, but his close-range effort struck the left post, to the relief of the locals.
Neymar commenced to showcase his sublime skill and trickery each time he touched the ball, to the frustration of the Japanese defenders, who resorted to dangerous tackles and rough play as a means to stop him.
But Neymar wasn't intimidated by their harsh tactics by any means, opening the scoring for Santos in the 18th minute with an absolute gem of a goal. The 19-year-old received the ball on the edge of the area, outwitted his marker with a clever touch, before curling the ball spectacularly around Kashiwa goalkeeper Sugeno.
Five minutes later Borges doubled Santos' lead with an equally good goal. The top goal-scorer of the Brazilian championship made space for himself outside of the area, before unleashing an unstoppable drive that left a stretching Sugeno with no chance.
Playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso pulled the strings in the Santos midfield, with his incredible technique and radar-like passing, as the two-time Intercontinental Cup winners maintained possession between themselves.
In the second period the Copa Libertadores champions continued to pressure their opponents, and should have added their third goal when Danilo was sent through on goal, but he fired his effort straight at Sugeno.
From that instance Santos seemed to take their foot off the pedal, and Kashiwa tried to take advantage of this, with fast dangerous counterattacks down both sets of flanks.
The J. League champions pulled a goal back in the 53rd minute when Hiroki Sakai connected to a Jorge Wagner corner-kick with a fine header.
But just when it seemed that Kashiwa could make their way back into the game, Danilo restored Santos' advantage with a stunning curling free-kick from 30-metres out that left Sugeno stranded on his goal-line.
Moments later Masakatsu Sawa hit the woodwork for Kashiwa, while substitute Ibson did the same for Santos at the other end.
Santos were well-worth their victory and will face the winner of the other semi-final between Barcelona of Spain and Al Sadd of Qatar in the final on Sunday.