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Filipe Luis: We're giving the semi-final maximum priority Diego (R) of Flamengo kisses his teammate Filipe Luis
  • Flamengo make their FIFA Club World Cup™
  • Filipe Luis has won Libertadores and league titles in his six months at club
  • “We want to win more trophies. We want to win the Club World Cup."
Filipe Luis is nothing if not sincere. When Flamengo conjured up an epic comeback to win the Copa Libertadores at the expense of defending champions River Plate, the Brazilian defender hugged his team-mates and celebrated with as much joy as anyone. But before he had even left the pitch at the Estadio Monumental in Lima, he gave a frank assessment of his team’s performance on the day: "We played a really poor game." Footballers are not noted for being self-critical in the immediate aftermath of a momentous win, but then again the Flamengo left back is no ordinary footballer. This is a player who does not quite fit the stereotypical view of the modern-day elite footballer.

The lowdown on Filipe Luis

  • Date/place of birth: 9 August 1985, Brazil
  • Position: Left back
  • Brazil caps: 44
  • Clubs: Figueirense, Ajax, Castilla, Deportivo de La Coruna, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and Flamengo
  • Honours: La Liga (2013/14), Copa del Rey (2012/13), UEFA Europa League (2011/12 and 2017/18), UEFA Super Cup (2012 and 2018), Premier League (2014/15), English League Cup (2014/15), Brazilian league (2019), Copa Libertadores (2019), FIFA Confederations Cup (2013) and Copa America (2019)

A curious mind

"Everyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty restless. I’m always asking people things,” he told FIFA.com when asked about his love for science. From the Higgs boson and astronomy to calculus and medicine, he has an interest in all things scientific. “I have all these doubts and questions because of science. I’m always looking to find out more about what’s around us, looking for answers about why we’re here.” Aged six and the oldest of his three children (Sara, aged 5, and one-year-old Lucas complete the family), Tiago seems to have inherited his father’s inquisitiveness. “He’s starting to ask questions now and I love that,” said the Flamengo full-back. “I like talking to him. He has his point of view and it’s very different,” he added with a laugh. The owner of a collection of more than 2,000 films, he is also passionate about cinema and TV series. “With the children I hardly have the time to watch anything these days,” he lamented. His TV highlight of the year was the final episode of Game of Thrones: “It’s the best series of the lot and it’s a shame it’s finished.”

A triumphant return

Hobbies aside, football remains Filipe Luis’ biggest passion: “It’s the only thing I know how to do well. I have more fun on the pitch than anywhere else.” This year has given him more enjoyment than most. After a successful few years in European football, he arrived at Flamengo in July – the club he supported as a boy – and promptly helped them win the Copa Libertadores and the Brazilian league title. “Winning the Brazilian championship is a dream I’ve had since I was a boy,” he said.

Maximum focus

Next up for Fla is the , the most coveted of all titles for South American teams. Though the fans are hoping for a final against Liverpool, Filipe Luis and Co have to focus first of all on Al Hilal, their opponents in .  “It’s happened to other South American teams. They’ve come here and lost in the semis,” he warned. “That’s why we’re giving this game maximum priority. There’ll be plenty of time to think about the final, if we get there.” One thing for sure is that the Mengao squad will not be short of information on their next rivals. Their coach, Jorge Jesus, knows everything there is to know about the Saudi side, as Filipe explained: “He was their coach before he came here. He started to put their team together so he knows very well how they like to play. We are so well prepared for this match." Filipe is not lacking in motivation in Doha and is more competitive than ever, as he explained: “I get more and more ambitious as the years go by and my retirement comes closer. I always want to win and here we are at the Club World Cup, determined to win it. We’ve won the league and the Libertadores but that ambition to lift more trophies is still there.” With Flamengo having been below their best in the Copa Libertadores final against River Plate, what kind of performance can we expect from them at Qatar 2019? “We always want the ball, no matter who we’re up against. We play a possession game. We press the opposition the whole time to try and win the ball back and then we try to play our game. We’ve got some very aggressive players in the final third of the pitch and some unique players up front who can win games for you.” Filipe and his team-mates will be hoping there will be no need for more self-criticism when the final whistle sounds against Al Hilal. (from FIFA.com News)

La Liga Teams News

Diego: We're dreaming of winning the world title Diego of Flamengo celebrates after scoring
  • Liverpool and Flamengo face off in Saturday’s FIFA Club World Cup™ final
  • The two sides contested the 1981 Intercontinental Cup, with Fla winning 3-0
  • Diego Ribas, the Brazilian side’s captain, is just back from serious injury
Diego Ribas has had an emotional rollercoaster of a year, one in which he suffered the worst injury of his career, while his club enjoyed a historic season. His personal setback dates to 25 July, when he suffered a broken left ankle and ligament damage as a result of a heavy tackle during the second leg of Flamengo’s Copa Libertadores last-16 tie with Emelec. Surgery and a long layoff followed.

The lowdown on Diego Ribas:

  • Date and place of birth: 28/02/1985, Ribeirao Preto, Brazil
  • Position: Attacking midfielder
  • Clubs: Santos, Porto, Werder Bremen, Wolfsburg, Atletico Madrid, Fenerbahce, Flamengo
  • Honours: Three Brazilian championships, one Spanish championship, one Portuguese championship, one Intercontinental Cup, one Copa Libertadores, one UEFA Europa League, two Copa Americas and one Olympic bronze medal.
“I haven’t watched the tackle again,” he told FIFA.com. “It’s too painful.” But with less than 48 hours to go before he steps out against Liverpool in the final of the , the Mengao captain at least has the satisfaction of knowing that this unhappy chapter of his career is over. “It’s been really tough because it was a whole new experience for me, the biggest injury of my career,” said the 34-year-old, who doubted at times if he would make a full recovery. “Yes, there have been moments when I’ve been unsure about things, but also some special and truly moving moments too.” One of those moments came when he pulled on a pair of football boots again for the first time. “It’s been hard but it’s made this season even more special,” said the Fla skipper with a smile. He returned to action just in time to help his side secure the Brazilian championship and made a crucial contribution to their Copa Libertadores triumph after coming on in the 66th minute of the final. “There are a lot of images that are going to stay with me forever,” he said of that comeback win against River Plate, “like how my team-mates reacted when we got the second goal, all the excitement, the tears and the laughter. Then, when we got back to Brazil, there was the welcome party they gave us. We’re never going to forget that and it made all the effort worthwhile.”

State champions, Brazilian champions, Copa Libertadores winners...

Can Fla now put the icing on the cake? “We can’t wait for Saturday to come around,” said Diego in reference to the Club World Cup decider. It is, after all, the trophy that South America covets most. There is, as he went on to explain, genuine belief in the Fla camp that they can defy the odds: “No, it’s not impossible. We’re coming up against a really strong team, one of the best in the world. We do have a chance, though. We’re a quality side and we believe in the work we do. We need to be totally focused, on top of our game and tactically disciplined. We know that and that’s what we want to do. We have to be organised and totally focused because these games are decided by little details. And when we have the ball, we have to take our chances.” The Brazilian knows how it feels to win the Intercontinental Cup, a trophy he lifted with Porto in 2004, and is anxious to savour the experience again: “Winning the Club World Cup with Flamengo would be special because it’s an incredible club. I couldn’t put into words how it would feel to win the world title here, but we’re definitely dreaming of it.” A million fans took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro to celebrate the Libertadores win with their heroes. But what will happen if they prevail again on Saturday? Diego smiled and said: “I can pretty much imagine it! That’s another reason why we want to win. It’s another source of motivation.” (from FIFA.com News)

What makes Liverpool tick? Jurgen Klopp of Liverpool
  • We give you three tactical take-aways from Liverpool’s current set-up
  • Intensity and flying full-backs key to their success
  • Xavi gives his take on what Jurgen Klopp has built
Liverpool have been playing mouth-watering football in recent months. Fluidity and solidity blend into an overwhelming river of red, whether trying to break them down or desperately contain them. Fans and pundits have been waxing lyrical about them at every opportunity as they steamroll their way through the English Premier League season, but what’s been at the heart of it? If you’ve missed out on taking in the latest incarnation of Klopp’s side, we bring you three things that help define the European champions’ tactical set-up.

1. Fed by world-class full-backs

Despite being just 21 and 25, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson have become the key attacking catalysts for Liverpool over the last season and a half. With pace, confidence and a well-stocked arsenal of deliveries at their disposal, they make for an unpredictable and reliable source of ammo. But, crucially, they dovetail superbly with the inverted wingers of Sadio Mane (left flank, right-footed) and Mohamed Salah (right flank, left-footed). Creating wide overloads and teasing open gaps in the channels, the defensive duo not only provide the service, but also time and space for the African goal machines to flourish.

2. Firmino’s selflessness

While the full-backs provide a more high-octane key to the Reds’ acting output, much of Roberto Firmino’s excellence comes from the more subtler elements of his game. The Brazilian has dazzled with moments of sublime nonchalance, but arguably his manipulation of space is where his impact can be felt most. Having operated as an attacking midfielder at Hoffenheim, and grown into a clinical finisher, he is a natural false nine. Dropping off the front line, he too helps create avenues for his fellow forwards to drive into by disrupting the centre-backs, while he can equally push tight to the defensive line and feed runners from midfield with his back to goal. Without the ball, he quickly becomes the front line of defence.

3. Transitional dominance

With the top teams on the planet so finely drilled and organised, exploiting weaknesses is often something achieved in the split seconds, rather than through measured attrition. Ask top coaches what the key preparations for victory are and being effective in transition – the moment when possession is either lost or gained – won’t be far down the list. Klopp’s iconic gegenpress at Borussia Dortmund (which saw his side quickly press to regain the ball after losing possession) has developed at Liverpool and, when the opportunity arises, they can be lethal when turning over the ball. When asked what they felt their team was world class at, there’s a reason pressing, counter-pressing and their overall intensity. They are fuelled by a well-stocked midfield full of dynamism, mobility and smart passing range, with rigorous organisation, discipline and wealth of wide options to instantly stretch play. Dally on the ball and things can turn from frustration to despair in a matter of seconds.

What the experts say

Xavi, former Barcelona star and current Al Sadd coach “When Jurgen Klopp came in, the one worry for me as a Liverpool supporter was whether he would evolve, adapt, change, really from 4-3-3, constant pressing all the time. Will his teams ever not be involved in end-to-end basketball games? Will he sort the defence out? I didn’t think he would. [The success they’ve had] is because of the changes Klopp has brought in and that’s the biggest testament to him as a manager.” Jamie Carragher, former Liverpool defender “Liverpool don’t half stretch teams. Width-wise, they make the pitch huge with their full-backs Robertson and Alexander-Arnold. They do it very, very well. They’re looking brilliant." Alan Shearer, Premier League’s all-time top scorer “I think if you lost both those full-backs it’d impact Liverpool as much as their two main strikers (Mane and Salah). They are fabulous. If anything happened to those two I think it would diminish their attacking prowess enormously.” Graeme Souness, two-time European Cup winner with Liverpool. (from FIFA.com News)

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