Flamengo into Club WCup final; Klopp sidesteps Qatar issues

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DOHA, Qatar (AP)Flamengo’s first trip to a Club World Cup will end in the final.

The South American champions came from behind to beat Al Hilal 3-1 on Tuesday at Khalifa International Stadium on the outskirts of the Qatari capital Doha.

Brazil’s most popular club will find out on Wednesday whether it will face European champion Liverpool or Mexican side Monterrey in Saturday’s final in the same venue.

It is one of the stadiums being used at the seven-team Club World Cup to test infrastructure in Qatar ahead of the 2022 World Cup for national teams.

Giorgian de Arrascaeta and Bruno Henrique turned around the semifinal for Flamengo after Salem Aldawsari gave Asian Champions League winner Al-Hilal a first-half lead. Ali Al-Bulaihi own goal confirmed Flamengo’s progress

Flamengo met Liverpool met in 1981 in the Intercontinental Cup, winning the now-defunct competition for the winners of the European Cup and Copa Libertadores.

Liverpool, which has never won the Club World Cup, reached this edition by winning a sixth European title in June.

”Is it the most important club competition in the world? I don’t know,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said Tuesday. ”It’s all winners from different competitions in a continent. So in Europe, obviously, everybody thinks the Champions League is the biggest competition, and ask the guys that play in the CONCACAF. Ask other players in Asia or wherever. Ask them. They have all their competitions.

”In Brazil, Flamengo celebrated the Copa Libertadores pretty intense, how I saw. So, we are here to represent Liverpool and Europe. That’s all (that) we do and we try that in the best way.”

An added complication for Liverpool was having to play a League Cup quarterfinal in England on Tuesday against Aston Villa with a weaker, young team losing 5-0 because the stars flew out to Doha.

While Liverpool is away for a round of Premier League games this weekend, it has the comfort of having a 10-point lead approaching the halfway point of its bid to end a three-decade domestic title drought.

Klopp steered clear of discussing human rights issues that have dogged Qatar’s construction of facilities since winning the FIFA vote in 2010 to host the World Cup in 2022.

”I have to be influential in football but not in politics,” Klopp said. ”Anything I say wouldn’t help, it would just create another headline, positive or negative. I like that you ask the question but I think I am the wrong person.

”Whoever is organizing the competition, wherever it is, they have to think about it. Athletes shouldn’t. We represent Liverpool, we are invited so we should go there. If sportsmen have to make a decision about a competition wherever it is in the world that is not right.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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