Tuesday 09 February 2021, 18:08

FIFA Legends Kaka, Mascherano and Julio Cesar preview enticing final

  • FIFA Legends Kaka, Javier Mascherano and Julio Cesar spoke to the media in Qatar

  • They began by assessing Tigres’ chances in the final

  • Also discussed COVID-19's impact on development of young players

The FIFA Club World Cup™ always accumulates footballing expertise from across the globe, so it came as no surprise to see three FIFA Legends – Kaka, Javier Mascherano and Julio Cesar – sitting down for a press conference at Qatar’s Education City Stadium on Tuesday afternoon. The journalists in attendance, as well as those around the world who tuned in to the live stream, spent around an hour seizing the opportunity to quiz some of the greats of the game.

What are your expectations regarding Thursday's final? Javier Mascherano: I am looking forward to it and hope it will be a great final for neutrals. Tigres made history by qualifying for the final for the first time as a Concacaf team. Bayern Munich have been a European powerhouse in recent years; they’re having a great time.

What do you think about playing here at stadiums that will also be used at the World Cup? Julio Cesar: The stadiums are extraordinary, with a fabulous infrastructure. The fans are going to be positively surprised when they see the stadiums for the World Cup!

If Bayern win the final, they will equal Barcelona's achievement [of winning six titles in a year] - so who will you be rooting for? Mascherano: I wasn't part of that team, I arrived later. If Bayern win, we have to congratulate them, they have been the best team in Europe in the last two years and if they achieve this, they will go down in history. I am sure that Barça fans don't want Bayern to win, so that they remain the only ones in history [to have won six titles in a year].

What is your impression of Tigres at this tournament? Kaka: For me, they are very well coached, with a well-defined game plan and strategy.

Julio Cesar: I believe that the coach prepared them very well for the semi-final and I was very surprised that they left so few opportunities for Palmeiras!

What are their chances of actually beating Bayern in the final? Kaka: It's fundamental to have a great game plan if you are playing a team at this level. Bayern are obviously one of the best teams in the world at the moment. We are going to have the pleasure of having those two great coaches behind their two teams.

Mascherano: I am sure that Tigres is going out there with the mindset of playing the game with their own style and to impose themselves. They have always tried to impress their own identity on matches.

What is your view on playing without fans in stadiums? Mascherano: The number one priority is obviously always people's health. FIFA and Qatar have gone through a massive effort to make sure that this competition could still go ahead. You have to be reminded that this is one of the few competitions to have fans in the stadiums, which is something that touches us emotionally. This gives us hope.

Kaka: I cannot imagine what it is like to play without supporters. I have been asking other players about this feeling, because it is completely different. It's really strange to score a goal and not to feel the atmosphere of the stadium. It's really hard to imagine. It's a really good sign, however, to see 30 per cent of supporters in the stadium here. It's a sign of hope for everybody.

You all have experience working with children. Can you tell me what you think should be done so this generation of future footballers is not lost due to the pandemic? Kaka: I am still optimistic, I try not to dwell so much on the bad things. We are not going to lose this generation because of this gap. On the contrary, this generation is going to come out of this stronger, because they will have gone through a completely unprecedented situation.

Mascherano: No one has a magic wand to fix this. I am also optimistic. Yes, it's true youngsters have not been able to train, but we are not going to lose an entire generation because of a year or a year and a half. At the end of the day, things are going to fall into place and adapt to the new reality.

Julio Cesar in Bangladesh