(Reuters) - Coach Ricardo La Volpe’s America are celebrating their centenary and come into the Club World Cup in good form, looking to improve on Mexico’s poor showing at the tournament.
Club America have reached the Liga MX Apertura championship final to be played later this month against UANL Tigres, the team they beat in the CONCACAF Champions League final in April to qualify for the Dec. 8-18 tournament in Japan.
Aiming for a record 13th league title, their chances looked remote in late September when La Volpe took charge at a club that had sacked Ignacio Ambriz after taking one point from their previous four home matches at the Azteca.
The flamboyant and controversial Argentine known as “Bigoton”, or big moustache, has a reputation as a master tactician and soon put them back on track with an unbeaten run of 11 matches.
La Volpe, who steered Mexico to the last 16 at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, will relish the chance to put his coaching nous to the test against favourites Real Madrid if America can get past South Korea’s Jeonbuk Motors in their quarter-final.
America, who were fourth in their first tournament in 2006, had to settle for fifth in their second appearance last year after losing to China’s Guangzhou Evergrande in their opening match.
Veteran striker Oribe Peralta, an Olympic medal winner with Mexico at London 2012, leads the attack partnered by Ecuador’s Michael Arroyo, Colombian Darwin Quintero or Argentine Silvio Romero.
Like many Mexican sides, America have half a dozen South American players.
Paraguay’s Pablo Aguilar and Argentine Paolo Goltz make up their central defence and Brazilian midfielder William da Silva works at the centre of a 5-3-2 formation with attacking wing backs.
America have been crowned CONCACAF champions a record seven times but the Club World Cup offers them a chance of success outside the region.
Editing by Nick Mulvenney