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FIFA Club World Cup: Flamengo’s Gabriel Barbosa primed for Real Madrid battle

South American champions Flamengo will be playing to win when they participate in the next FIFA Club World Cup, according to talismanic striker Gabriel Barbosa.

Flamengo secured a berth in the tournament, likely to be staged early next year, by beating Brazilian rivals Athletico Paranaense 1-0 in the Copa Libertadores final at Guayaquil’s Monumental stadium recently.

Dorival Junior’s men will be favourites to advance to the final, which is almost certain to be against European champions Real Madrid. It will provide a chance for the Rio de Janeiro outfit to seek redemption for their 1-0 loss to Liverpool in 2019 final, reports Xinhua.

“Real Madrid are the biggest club in the world, with the most Champions League titles and an incredible history,” Barbosa said. “We already had the opportunity to play a club World Cup final against Liverpool and we competed well. You can be sure that we are ready.”

Despite having only joined Flamengo in 2020, Barbosa has already gained mythical status at Flamengo.

The 26-year-old was a key member of the team that won the 2019 league title, when he was on loan from Inter Milan, and 2020 top-flight titles and scored the winning goals in Flamengo’s 2019 and 2022 Copa Libertadores triumphs. He was also on target in Flamengo’s 2-1 defeat to Palmeiras in the 2021 Copa Libertadores final.

“I feel prepared for decisive moments,” a confident Barbosa said. “Despite my youth, in those decisive moments, I manage to have the calmness to understand the game with due caution and fight when the time is right.”

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