Only five players have won the FIFA Club World Cup three times since the competition adopted its current format, all of them with Barcelona. This year, however, two Real Madrid players have the chance to join that select band: Cristiano Ronaldo and Toni Kroos.
While the Portuguese was on the winning side when Manchester United defeated Liga de Quito in the Japan 2008 final, the German was part of the Bayern Munich side that got the better of Raja Casablanca in the showpiece match at Morocco 2013. After joining forces a year later to help their current club see off San Lorenzo and lift the trophy, the two players now have their sights set on a third title in Japan.
Kroos was all smiles when giving an exclusive interview to FIFA.com, not least because he has made a speedy recovery from a fracture of the fifth metatarsal of his right foot, an injury that had put his participation in the tournament in serious doubt.
“I’m back training with the team again and I feel good. I’m going to be fit,” explained the 26-year-old midfielder, who will be available for Zinedine Zidane at Japan 2016 and whose desire to be there has nothing to do with the aforementioned personal record. “Individual achievements are not important for me, to be honest. But when you go to a tournament all you want to do is win it, so lifting this title for a third time would be special for me. It also means that I’ve won the Champions League three times,” he added with a wink.
“I’m really looking forward to the tournament,” he continued. “You don’t get to play a lot of games against teams like these, and it’s really interesting to take on sides who play very different types of football and who you’re not used to playing.”
The German can list Guangzhou Evergrande of China PR among his Club World Cup scalps, along with Raja Casablanca of Morocco, Cruz Azul of Mexico and San Lorenzo of Argentina. Real Madrid’s first rival at Japan 2016 will be the winner of the second-round match between Korea Republic’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Mexico’s Club America.