From Rincón to Cuéllar, Colombians in the Club World Cup final

For the fourth consecutive edition, there will be Colombian representation in the Club World Cup final. Gustavo Cuéllar made history together with Al Hilal and next Saturday he will play the match for the 2022 title (it will be played in 2023 for the World Cup in Qatar) against the winner of Al Ahly – Real Madrid. The midfielder started and completed 90 minutes in the Arab team’s 3-2 victory over Flamengo in the semifinals.

Cuéllar becomes the thirteenth footballer from Colombia to reach the final of this club competition. A story that began with Freddy Rincón in the year 2000 and that it has, for the moment, four of ours as champions.

Rincón and Vargas, the first to win the World Cup

The first edition of the tournament – different from the Intercontinental that faced the winners of the Champions and Libertadores – was played in 2000. On January 14 of that year, with Freddy Rincón as captain and scorer of a goal in the shootout, Cortinthians defeated Vasco da Gama 4-3 on penalties and became the first champion.

The Mundialito was not played for the next four years, but from 2005 it definitively replaced the Intercontinental. In 2006, Fabián Vargas became the second Colombian to win it: He played the complement of the final that his team, Internacional de Porto Alegre, beat Ronaldinho’s Barcelona by the slightest difference.

A year later, with Boca Juniors, Vargas returned to play in the World Cup. However, he was sent off in the semifinal against ES Sahel and was unable to play the decisive match vs. Milan, who finally lifted the trophy after beating Xeneize 4-2.

Córdoba and James complete the group of champions

Inter Milan was the winner of the 2010 edition by beating Mazembe, a club from the Republic of Congo, 3-0. Iván Ramiro Córdoba played the entire final in the team led by Rafa Benítez.

In 2011, Guardiola and Messi’s Barcelona defeated Santos 4-0 to win the title. In the Brazilian team, which featured Neymar Jr., Wason Rentería was a substitute (did not enter).

James Rodríguez is the only Colombian to win the Club World Cup more than once. In 2014, he started in the final that Real Madrid won 2-0 against San Lorenzo, that he had from the beginning to Mario Yepes. In 2016, the midfielder did not play the duel that defined the title against Kashima Antlers (a club that eliminated Atlético Nacional in the semis).

James Rodríguez, 2014 Club World Cup champion with Real Madrid.Getty Images

In the middle of James’s two titles (2015), Éder Álvarez Balanta was runner-up with River Plate after losing 3-0 against Barcelona at Yokohama Stadium in Japan. Although he was a starter, he could do little against the trident Messi-Suárez-Neymar.

Cuéllar, to end the streak without titles

Three years passed for a Colombian to return to the World Cup final. In 2019, Liverpool defeated Flamengo in extra time, that featured Orlando Berrío in the last moments of overtime.

In the 2020 edition, which was held in February 2021 due to the covid-19 pandemic, Luis Quiñones, Julián Quiñones and Francisco Meza (the only one of the 3 that did not play), faced Bayern Munich with Tigres de México. The victory went to the Germans with a goal from Benjamin Pavard.

Eduard Atuesta completes a losing streak for Colombia. The midfielder played the 2021 final between Palmeiras and Chelsea (it was played in February 2022), but Verdao ended up winning 2-1 with a goal from Havertz 3 minutes from the end of overtime.

Colombians in the Club World Cup final

edition Equipment Rival Result minutes played
freddy corner 2000 Cortinthians Vasco da Gama Triumph on penalties 0 (4) – (3) 0 120′
Fabian Vargas 2006 International Barcelona 1-0 win 45′
Fabian Vargas 2007 Boca Juniors AC Milan Defeat 2-4 0
Ivan Ramiro Cordoba 2010 Inter de Milan Careless 3-0 win 90′
Wason Renteria 2011 Santos Barcelona Defeat 0-4 0
James Rodriguez 2014 Real Madrid Saint Lawrence 2-0 win 90′
Mario Yepes 2014 Saint Lawrence Real Madrid Defeat 0-2 61′
Éder Álvarez Balanta 2015 River Plate Barcelona Defeat 0-3 90′
James Rodriguez 2016 Real Madrid Kashima Antlers Triumph 4-2 0
Orlando Berrio 2019 Flamengo Liverpool Defeat 0-1 1′
Luis Quinones 2020 tigers Bayern Munich Defeat 0-1 90′
Julian Quinones 2020 tigers Bayern Munich Defeat 0-1 10′
Francisco Meza 2020 tigers Bayern Munich Defeat 0-1 0
Eduard Atuesta 2021 palm trees Chelsea Defeat 1-2 42′


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