'Smart' Al Ain revving up for Real Madrid 'Mercedes' in Club World Cup final

Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic suggested that his side could go one better than fellow Abu Dhabi club Al Jazira, which last year ran Real Madrid close in the competition's semifinals before goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale put the Spanish side in the final.

Real Madrid will go into the final heavy favourite, according to Al Ain's coach Zoran Mamic.   -  AP

Al Ain goes into Saturday's final of the Club World Cup knowing that they need to move trough the gears if they are to have any hope of stopping Real Madrid bagging a record third straight world crown.

The Abu Dhabi club is the dominant force at home and the only UAE side to have ever won the Asian Champions League — in 2004 — and coach Zoran Mamic is dreaming of racing to what would be the biggest ever result in the history of Arab football.

READ | Solari hails Real Madrid's 'extraordinary' achievements ahead of Club World Cup final

“We're almost like a Smart car against a Mercedes, but every now and again a Smart can beat a Mercedes,” said Mamic.

Mamic's side stunned River Plate in the semifinals, winning on penalties after an end-to-end encounter with the Argentines who had arrived in Abu Dhabi just days after finally seeing off Boca Juniors in the disrupted Copa Libertadores final.

The 47-year-old Mamic admitted though that Real will go into the final heavy favourite.

“The strength of Real Madrid is the whole team, every player can make the difference,” he said.

“Even the defence: (Sergio) Ramos, (Dani) Carvajal, Marcelo, (Raphael) Varane... it could be anyone, so we can't just focus on stopping the attack, but the whole team.”

— 'Great achievement' —

However he suggested that his side could go one better than fellow Abu Dhabi club Al Jazira, which last year ran Madrid close in the competition's semifinals before goals from departed Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale put the European champion into the final.

“Last year we have the example of Al Jazira, against who Real had 10 chances to score and didn't, then Al Jazira took their one chance and Real struggled to get back into it,” added Mamic.

Mamic was convicted earlier this year and sentenced to nearly five years in prison by a Croatian court over claims he colluded with his brother Zdravko, considered the kingpin of Croatian football, and others to embezzle millions from Dinamo Zagreb. Zoran Mamic has described the verdict as “invalid” and is appealing.

WATCH | Gareth Bale: "The win is more important than my hat-trick"

Al Ain is taking on a Madrid side with Bale in fine fettle following his hat-trick that saw off Kashima Antlers 3-1 on Wednesday.

Real boss Santiago Solari, who won the old Intercontinental Cup with the club as a player in 2002, said he was not underestimating his opponents after its shock win over River, and contended that the competition was more “democratic” than it has been historically.

“You expected River to win, but we can't talk of surprises as we have seen similar results in previous years,” said Solari.

“To win the title for the third year in a row would be exceptional, a great achievement for these players... it's an unprecedented and great opportunity.”

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