- Liverpool and Flamengo meet in Qatar in the Club World Cup final
- The Reds are odds-on with sportsbooks to win the trophy for the first time
- Top scorer Gabriel Barbosa offers the Brazilians hope of victory
The Club World Cup – or World Club Championship as it used to be known – is the one major honor to have eluded Liverpool so far. Despite winning the Champions League (or European Cup) no fewer than six times, the Reds have never been able to land the biggest prize in club football.
They have the opportunity to put that right this weekend when they meet Flamengo in the Club World Cup Final in Qatar, on Saturday, December 21 at 9:30 am EST. We’ll take a look at the odds to see if there is any value to be had.
Liverpool vs Flamengo Odds
|Team||Spread||Moneyline||Total||Odds to Win|
|Liverpool||-1, (+101)||-169||O 3 (+100)||-325|
|Flamengo||+1, (-121)||+400||U 3 (-120)||+250|
All odds taken Dec. 19
The European champions are odd-on for the win, either in normal time or after extra-time and penalties, but given their struggle to overcome the Mexicans of Monterrey in the semifinal, this one may not be as straightforward as the bookies are suggesting.
History on the Side of the Brazilians
Liverpool and Flamengo have met in this competition before – in 1981 when it was known as the Intercontinental Cup – when the Brazilians won 3-0 – but back then it was a one-off tie between the best teams in Europe and South America. The Flamengo team back then included such luminaries as Zico and Junior while for Liverpool it was the era of Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush.
In their most recent outing in this competition, in 2005, Liverpool also lost to Brazilian opposition, when they were beaten 1-0 by Sao Paulo, and in their only other final, they lost 1-0 to Independiente of Argentina in 1984. In 1977 and 1978, despite winning the European Cup, they declined the invitation to compete in the final.
Looking ahead to Saturday, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp knows his team will need to perform better than they did against Monterrey and will be hoping Virgil van Dijk will be well enough to return to the team after illness saw him miss the semifinal.
Defensive Headache for Klopp
With Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip also out injured, the German was forced to play Jordan Henderson at center-back, something that made a significant difference to their defensive solidity. He will also likely restore Roberto Firmino to the starting XI after he came off the bench late on in the semifinal to replace Divock Origi and scored the winner.
Klopp will be hoping to get what he considers his best XI on the pitch for this one, having also rested Sadio Mané for most of the Monterrey game. The need to rest players with a hectic Christmas schedule just around the corner was understandable, but the Reds’ hunger to win this trophy for the first time in the club’s history should see them go all out for the win.
Liverpool vs Flamengo Head-to-Head
|3||Number of Club World Cup finals||1|
|0||Number of Club World Cup wins||1|
|6||Number of continental titles||2|
|18||Number of domestic titles||6|
|2||Number of goals scored in 2019 tournament||3|
|1||Number of goals conceded in 2019 tournament||1|
Familiar Faces on Show for Liverpool
Flamengo, who booked their place in the final with a 3-1 victory over Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal on Tuesday, have several familiar faces in their squad, including ex-Chelsea full-back Filipe Luis, former Bayern Munich player Rafinha, on-loan Inter Milan striker Gabriel Barbosa and veteran midfielder Diego, formerly of Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg.
Barbosa’s inclusion is an interesting one as he was dubbed the “next Neymar” during his time at Santos, but having earned his big-money move to Inter Milan, failed to deliver the goods in Serie A. As a result, Inter sent him out on a succession of loan spells – including to Benfica and back to Santos – the latest of which is to the Brazilian champions.
Gabriel (as he is known) has been largely responsible for getting the Brazilians to this final – his late double secured victory against River Plate in the Copa Libertadores Final – and in his 41 appearances for Flamengo, he has scored no less than 34 times.
If Liverpool are able to contain Gabriel it will be pivotal in their quest to win this trophy and is why a healthy van Dijk is so crucial to the Reds’ chances.
A High Scoring Draw After 90?
Another interesting sub-plot is that Flamengo – managed by former Benfica boss Jorge Jesus – plays a similar style to Liverpool, with a high line and a high press, so the team that implements these elements most successfully will likely come out on top.
Both teams have goals in them and both have looked unusually wobbly in defense of late, so I expect there to be a few goals. With the Reds odds-on, there is little value for the Liverpool win, but if Flamengo can take it to extra-time and maybe penalties, the +250 for the Brazilians to lift the trophy looks to be where the value is.
Pick: Flamengo to win on penalties (+250)