The conquest of Barça’s first Champions League in 1991/92 qualified the team to play for the Club World Cup, formerly known as the Intercontinental Cup, in Tokyo, thanks to Ronald Koeman’s goal at Wembley against Sampdoria. During that time, the Intercontinental Cup was a shorter competition, only the champions of Europe and South America were eligible to play in for the title. Therefore, Barça was paired up against the Brazilian side Sao Paulo. The star of the match was Raí, younger brother of the late  Sócrates. Two goals from the Brazilian allowed Sao Paulo to take the title after Hristo Stoichkov gave Barça the lead.

FC Barcelona would be back to the Club World Cup after beating Arsenal in the 2006 final in Paris by 2-1. The Club World Cup was reformed in the year 2000 to reflect its current moniker and format. The new format, structured to be more inclusive and representative of world football, not only included the European and South American champions but the champions of Africa, Oceania, North America, Asia and the League champion of the host country. FC Barcelona opened its bid for its first Club World Cup title in the semifinal against Mexico’s América, and won 4-0. However, Barça was made to wait to claim the title when the Catalans lost to Internacional de Porto Alegre in the final (1-0).

Victory in Abu Dhabi

Barça was back in the competition two years later in Abu Dhabi, where the team won the title for the first time in the Club’s history after beating Argentina’s Estudiantes (1-2). Pedro brought Barça level in the last minute of a thrilling match and Messi scored the winner after chesting in the ball halfway through overtime.

It hasn’t gone well for Barça in Japan, so far. But the Azulgranas hope to break the their run of poor results on Far East soil starting tomorrow against Al-Sadd. The third time’s the charm.

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