Fluminense veteran Marcelo: Courage and conviction carried us to Club World Cup final

Former Real Madrid full-back is one step away from fifth title at global tournament

Fluminense defender Marcelo rejoined his boyhood club from Greek side Olympiacos in February. AFP
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Veteran full-back Marcelo says Fluminense’s “conviction and courage” carried them to a first Fifa Club World Cup final, and warned potential opponents Manchester City they are dreaming of lifting the trophy.

The former Real Madrid defender, one of the most decorated players in the world game, continued his personal quest for a fifth Club World Cup crown by helping Fluminense to a 2-0 win against Al Ahly in the semi-final in Jeddah on Monday night.

The current South American champions came through a thrilling, see-saw encounter at King Abdullah Sports City, with Jhon Arias and John Kennedy scoring deep into the second half.

The victory sets up a potential final on Friday against City, although Pep Guardiola’s European champions have to first get past Asian counterparts Urawa Red Diamonds on Tuesday.

Asked after the semi-final success for the secret to Fluminense’s historic achievement, Marcelo said: “Many things. First, the conviction that we can do it. Also, the dreams of going far when this group of players was put together.

“Then a lot of courage to play, a clear idea on the part of the coach [Fernando Diniz, also the current Brazil caretaker manager], a lot of mobility among us, players with very good technique, and a lot of potential among those who are young.

“And we have also achieved independence from who our rivals are on the pitch, because we have our own style, and we always want to be Fluminense.”

Marcelo, 35, rejoined his boyhood club in February, following five months with Olympiacos in Greece. Prior to that, the former Brazil international spent a hugely successful 15 years at Madrid, in which he won, among other titles, six La Ligas, five Uefa Champions Leagues, and the Club World Cup in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018. The latter two global crowns were captured in Abu Dhabi.

On winning the Club World Cup again, but with the club with which he began his professional career, in 2005, Marcelo said: “It’s very different because Real Madrid is the most iconic team in the world, but Fluminense is my biggest club, because they made me.

“They helped me since I was eight years old, so I was a baby. So Fluminense is my everything. To play at a Club World Cup with Fluminense, for me, is amazing.”

Marcelo said “dreams cost nothing” when it was put to him that Fluminense could cause an upset against City in the final – if they were to meet at King Abdullah Sports City later this week.

Like Diniz’s recent Copa Libertadores winners, the English champions are contesting the Club World Cup for the first time.

“Manchester City goes to the final?” Marcelo joked when asked how Fluminense planned to stop City. “If [they do] ... I don’t know, we train about two hours a day, so we know the play we have to do. It’s not to stop Manchester. No. We have to play like the coach trains us to play.”

Updated: December 19, 2023, 11:01 AM