Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson says playing in Saturday's Club World Cup final against Flamengo will be a "dream come true".

Champions League winners Liverpool face Copa Libertadores holders Flamengo in a blockbuster clash at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar.

The Reds are out to win the trophy for the first time, but Brazil international Alisson acknowledged sides hailing from his own country put greater importance on the competition.

Speaking at Friday's pre-match news conference, the ex-Internacional stopper said: "I still watch Brazilian football, especially my former club, and Flamengo are a joy to watch.

"I'm excited to be playing in the Club World Cup final - it is a dream come true. I was a young boy at 14 when I watched my club Internacional win it in 2006 as a fan.

"Now I'm here with this opportunity to win it with Liverpool.

"It's big for Brazilians, but I think it's bigger for the people playing in it. People on the outside don't give value to this competition because it's limited just for the winners."

Alisson produced a number of important saves in the 2-1 semi-final win against Monterrey, keeping Liverpool on course for a maiden triumph in the annual showpiece.

The 27-year-old, named the best goalkeeper in the world earlier this month, is keen to write his name in Anfield folklore by lifting the trophy this weekend.

"Flamengo won the Copa Libertadores and we won the Champions League while many other clubs won big competitions too and that's why we are here," he said.

"We are making this big for us, because this is important to put our name in the history of the club, that this is the first time ever that Liverpool will win it and we do our best."

Flamengo beat River Plate 2-1 in the Copa Libertadores final on November 23 and were crowned champions of their domestic league 24 hours later.

Alisson is expecting a difficult test, adding: "They have shown how good they are by winning the Brazilian league, which is difficult to win. It is a great competition and they play really good football.

"In their last game there were more than 10,000 Flamengo supporters, but this is not just big for them, it's big for us also. We want to win it and we will try to do our best on the pitch."

Jurgen Klopp is hoping to change the way the Club World Cup is viewed in Europe by leading Liverpool to victory over Flamengo in Saturday's final.

The Champions League holders beat Monterrey 2-1 on Wednesday through a late goal from substitute Roberto Firmino to set up a meeting with Copa Libertadores winners Flamengo.

Liverpool prioritised the semi-final with Monterrey over their EFL Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa the day before, which saw an inexperienced Reds side - the youngest in their history - thrashed 5-0.

Speaking ahead of the Club World Cup final, Klopp pointed out that Liverpool's preparations have been markedly different to Flamengo's due to a fixture pile-up.

"The situation is different for us as it is for Flamengo," he said at Friday's pre-match news conference. "They came here with a clear order to win it and come back home as heroes. We got told to stay at home and play in the EFL Cup.

"But we are here and my team wants to win this competition. The view in Europe of the Club World Cup is different to the view in the rest of the world but we want to change that. 

"Liverpool fans want us to win - most of the other fans don't really care. But we saw what it means to Monterrey by how much they invested to win on Wednesday and it will be the same with Flamengo."

Saturday's clash with be Klopp's first against a Brazilian side in his 18-year coaching career and will also mark the first time he has faced Jorge Jesus.

Klopp has been impressed by Jesus' work since he took charge of Flamengo in June and is anticipating a difficult match at the Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar.

"This is the first time that I have faced a Brazilian team but this is also the first time Flamengo have played a team like Liverpool," he said.

"I know what we have to expect. Flamengo will be intense and organised. Jorge Jesus has changed their fortunes.

"He has brought players in to the defence, he has a settled line-up, a team where everybody knows what they have to do. He was a successful coach at Benfica and at Sporting.

"He's a character and is famous for being organised. He could go to a European club if he wanted but maybe Rio is such a nice place he wants to stay there."

Virgil van Dijk missed the victory over Monterrey through illness and Georginio Wijnaldum was sidelined with a muscle injury.

However, both players took part in training on Friday and Klopp will continue to monitor their fitness.

"Virgil was part of training today and Gini had a session," he said. "We will see how it looks at the end.

"We have no new concerns. We will use each hour for recovery and we will see who we can line up tomorrow [Saturday]."

Virgil van Dijk provided Liverpool with a potential boost ahead of their Club World Cup final against Flamengo by training on Friday.

The defender, who has played every minute of the Reds' Premier League campaign, felt ill the day before the semi-final against Monterrey and was absent as the Reds recorded a 2-1 victory.

With Joe Gomez the only other senior centre-back in the squad, Jordan Henderson partnered his fellow England international in the heart of defence.

Boss Jurgen Klopp said after the game he had "no clue" whether Van Dijk would be back for Saturday's final in Doha.

However, the Dutchman was out training with his Liverpool colleagues on Friday in the portion of the session open to the media.

Flamengo are the reigning Brazilian league champions, the Copa Libertadores winners, and on Saturday they will attempt to add the Club World Cup to their accolades.

Standing in the way of the team bossed by Jorge Jesus are Liverpool, who won the Champions League in June and are packed with superstar performers.

When it comes to the biggest names in the game, Flamengo cannot compete with the team they will battle for the global crown.

However, they possess plenty of quality in their ranks, and notably have a host of players who have returned to South America after stints in Europe.

Here is a look at five of their key players ahead of the clash with Jurgen Klopp's team.

Diego Alves (goalkeeper, 34 years old)

Regular watchers of Spanish league football will remember Alves from his Almeria and Valencia days. He spent four seasons with Almeria and six years at Mestalla before leaving Spain in 2017.

Alves is best known for his expertise in saving penalties, keeping out almost 50 per cent of the spot-kicks he faced while in Spain, including efforts from Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Liverpool will not want to give him the chance to be a shoot-out hero.

 

Pablo Mari (defender, 26 years old)

If the stars had aligned slightly differently, Spanish centre-back Mari might have been the man tasked with solving the Manchester City defensive crisis that has been the reigning Premier League champions' downfall this season.

In theory he was a City player for three years, but Mari never appeared in a competitive game for the club, spending season-long loans with Girona, NAC Breda and Deportivo La Coruna before being offloaded by Pep Guardiola in July.

Five months down the line and he gets the chance to face Premier League opposition in the shape of City's great rivals.

 

Giorgian De Arrascaeta (midfielder, 25 years old)

Uruguayan De Arrascaeta played just a fleeting role in his national team's run to the World Cup quarter-finals last year, since when he has switched from Cruzeiro to Flamengo and gone from strength to strength.

Goalscoring midfielders can be priceless and De Arrascaeta is a persistent threat going forward. Like fellow Flamengo midfielders Willian Arao and Gerson, he was named in the Brazilian league's team of the year, receiving a Bola de Prata (silver ball) for the achievement.

De Arrascaeta's goal early in the second half kickstarted Flamengo's fightback against Al Hilal in the Club World Cup semi-finals, and Liverpool will need to curb his forward runs.

 

Bruno Henrique (forward, 28 years old)

Bruno Henrique's spell in Europe was short and not so sweet. He spent a year - January 2016 to January 2017 - at Wolfsburg, where he played in a Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid, helping the Germans win at home before going out after a Santiago Bernabeu defeat.

Santos called and Bruno Henrique answered, before 18 months later he was prised away by Flamengo. The 28-year-old has played the best football of his career under Jesus, showing rampant scoring form alongside Gabriel Barbosa and earning a Brazil call-up.

Two Brazilian league hat-tricks since the start of November, and a starring goalscoring role against Al Hilal, point to his threat.

 

Gabriel Barbosa (forward, 23 years old)

AKA Gabigol. Gabriel earned his nickname as a child hot-shot but has justified it throughout his professional career, save for a disappointing year at Inter.

Technically Gabriel still belongs to the Nerazzurri, given he signed a five-year contract when arriving in 2016, but he has seen very little of San Siro in recent times.

After year-long loans at Benfica and Santos, where he also began his career, Gabriel joined Flamengo in January of this year and his temporary move is due to run to the end of this year.

His two late goals against River Plate last month dramatically gave Flamengo the Copa Libertadores title, and he won Brazil's Bola de Ouro (Golden Ball) award earlier this month.

Adam Lallana said Liverpool are addicted to winning trophies as the Champions League holders look to add the Club World Cup to their collection.

Liverpool face Copa Libertadores champions and Brazilian giants Flamengo in Saturday's Club World Cup final in Doha.

It is another chance for Premier League leaders Liverpool – who are on track to claim their first league title since 1990 – to celebrate silverware under Jurgen Klopp, having won the Champions League and UEFA Super Cup this year.

Liverpool attacker Lallana said: "It's massive. We are European champions and to be world club champions as well – there's not many people who can say that.

"We are going to give it our all. It's like an addiction: you win one medal and you want to win another. You want to win more."

Liverpool booked their spot in the Club World Cup decider after edging Monterrey 2-1 thanks to Roberto Firmino's last-gasp winner.

Flamengo, who beat River Plate in the Libertadores final, overcame 10-man Al Hilal 3-1 in the semi-finals.

"It will be a very tough game," Lallana said. "I'm sure Bobby [Firmino] and Alisson will give us some inside info into them.

"We watched them the other day. They were very dynamic, very aggressive, physical, and we will have to recover quickly. Another trophy is up for grabs so bring it on. It's all about recovery now.

"It's a good job it didn't go to extra time. We will get in the ice baths, get the massages and all guns blazing for Saturday."

Flamengo have every chance of beating Champions League winners Liverpool in the Club World Cup final, according to ex-Brazil internationals Julio Cesar and Bebeto.

Copa Libertadores champions Flamengo came from behind to beat Al Hilal 3-1 in their semi-final clash on Tuesday, while Liverpool edged past Monterrey 2-1 thanks to Roberto Firmino's late effort.

Jorge Jesus' Flamengo stunned River Plate in November's Copa Libertadores decider, with Gabriel Barbosa's last-gasp double securing glory.

Former Brazil and Inter goalkeeper Cesar started and ended his senior career with Flamengo, and he believes his old side can cause another upset in Saturday's final in Doha.

"Flamengo have the opportunity [of winning the championship]. They're very confident and will face Liverpool, a great team, as we know," Cesar told reporters.

"But Flamengo have all conditions of winning this game. Flamengo showed excellent football this year.

"With Jorge Jesus' arrival, the players could quickly understand his philosophy and methodology and this made Flamengo winner of two competitions, the Brazilian Championship and Libertadores. Flamengo is going to this final full of confidence."

Another former Flamengo and Brazil player - Bebeto - echoed Cesar's sentiment, insisting the club will have the entire country behind them.

"I have to keep my heart strong, it's such a joy to see Flamengo, after 38 years, in the fight for their second world title," he said.

"I want that everything can go well and that we can win this title, that's so important. Not only for Flamengo fans but for all Brazilians.

"Flamengo is playing very well, they will fight for this title, it will be a tough game, we all know this. Liverpool is a great team, they are Champions League winners and we are Libertadores winners and also winners at Brazil Championship.

"So, let's go, we have to believe, always."

Jurgen Klopp suggested the arrival of Takumi Minamino at Liverpool is imminent and admitted he would have liked him in the squad for the Club World Cup semi-final against Monterrey.

Minamino was reportedly due to undergo a medical with the Reds on Wednesday ahead of a January move from Salzburg said to be worth £7.25million.

Klopp was forced to send Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino on as the Premier League leaders searched for a winner against the CONCACAF Champions League holders, who were level at 1-1 in Doha heading into injury time. 

Firmino turned home a cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold in the 91st minute to seal a 2-1 victory and set up a meeting with Flamengo in the final, but the Liverpool boss conceded having Minamino on a bench that included two goalkeepers would have been a big boost.

However, the German was unwilling to say more with the transfer yet to be confirmed.

"I cannot speak about it, sorry. You are too early!" said Klopp.

He added with a smile: "If he would come – it would have been good if we could bring him on. But he's not yet our player so we have to wait for that, sorry."

Liverpool fielded a team of Under-23 players for their EFL Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa on Tuesday due to their Club World Cup commitments and lost 5-0.

Ahead of a congested festive period Klopp was delighted to have avoided an additional 30 minutes against Monterrey.

"I was actually afraid of the extra time to be honest, so I was more than happy when Bobby scored that goal," said Klopp, who deployed Jordan Henderson at centre-back with Virgil van Dijk absent due to illness.

"We had to do a few changes because we had no other options, but we wanted to do some other changes. It means we left Trent out, we left Bobby out and Sadio out, and that gives you then the opportunity when the game is not decided to make the decision.

"That Bobby scored the goal is just wonderful. He came on and was immediately in the game, a really good situation, pass from Mo, maybe not clear enough but he helped us a lot, Sadio with his power and stuff, Trent [supplied] immediate, dangerous crosses, so it helped.

"Staying on track is part of our game. You for sure cannot plan a goal like this, you only think it's not impossible. It was really a super, super goal."

On the chances of Van Dijk returning for the final, Klopp said: "He was yesterday or the day before on the pitch for a couple of minutes until the media left and then unfortunately he had to leave as well, not because of the media but because he didn't feel well.

"But this morning no training was possible and he couldn't play. It was difficult for Hendo to deal with but he did really good and we will see, I don't know how quick he can recover. We will see."

Jurgen Klopp has "no clue" whether Virgil van Dijk will be able to overcome illness to feature in Liverpool's Club World Cup final against Flamengo on Saturday.

Van Dijk missed Wednesday's 2-1 semi-final victory over Monterrey, as the Reds needed a stoppage-time winner from substitute Roberto Firmino in Doha.

With Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren already absent through injury, Liverpool deployed captain Jordan Henderson, nominally a central midfielder, in an unfamiliar centre-back berth alongside Joe Gomez.

Those two may have to play together again against Flamengo if Van Dijk cannot return, though Klopp's squad is due to be reinforced by young stars who were beaten 5-0 by Aston Villa in the EFL Cup on Tuesday.

Asked whether Van Dijk would be back for the final, Klopp told BBC Sport: "We have no clue, to be honest.

"We thought when we came here he will be fine for today - he wasn't.

"We'll see, I don't know. We brought now a few kids - Sepp [van den Berg], Ki-Jana Hoever are here, Harvey [Elliott] will come tomorrow. We will see what we can do line up-wise."

Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mane all started Wednesday's semi-final on the bench.

However, after Rogelio Funes Mori cancelled out Naby Keita's opener in the first half, the possibility of extra-time loomed for a Liverpool side already facing a gruelling December fixture list.

Thankfully for Klopp and his side, Alexander-Arnold's 91st-minute cross was swept home by Firmino to seal the victory inside normal time.

Klopp was pleased with the performance and also singled out goalkeeper Alisson for praise after he made a string of saves.

"We controlled the game for long periods of time in the first half," Klopp added.

"We played really well for a line-up which is made to control the game, because we had not a lot of defensive players on the pitch, that's the problem.

"Of course, they had their counter attacks. All you need is Alisson Becker in the end. He must be there and he was there in the decisive moments."

Flamengo head coach Jorge Jesus claims his side fear nobody - including Liverpool - after they booked their place in the Club World Cup final.

The Brazilian club came from behind to beat Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal 3-1 in their semi-final at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

Al Hilal took a surprise lead through Salem Al Dawsari before Giorgian de Arrascaeta equalised for the Copa Libertadores champions just after half-time.

Bruno Henrique headed Flamengo ahead before Ali Hadi Albulayhi put through his own net.

"The final for us will be faced without fear of anyone," Jesus said in his post-match news conference.

"When we arrived we thought we could be world champions; now we are in the final. We are a team that never fails in the decisive moments.

"I told the boys, after the first half, that we will have scored. I knew they would fall in the second and we were good at being ready.

"We had some problems in the first half, then we calmed down and we went out into the distance."

European champions Liverpool face Mexican side Monterrey in their semi-final on Wednesday for the right to face Flamengo in Saturday's final.

Should Jurgen Klopp's side make it, Jesus believes Liverpool will face a much tougher game than Tottenham gave them in the Champions League trophy match back in June.

He added: "Whoever it has to be, when you get to a Club World Cup, the teams are all strong.

"We have never focused on tactical analysis about Liverpool, it was always about Al Hilal. We are not ahead in choosing because football gives us a lot of surprises.

"Liverpool is a favourite, I have no doubt, but they have to win first. If it is Liverpool, Klopp have already been to the Champions League final, but the Club World Cup will be more important and more difficult."

Jesus claimed the final would be the biggest game of his managerial career, and that Flamengo's attacking players are the best he has ever coached.

"This will be the most important final of my career," added the 65-year-old, who has primarily managed clubs in his native Portugal.

"This is the best team I have ever coached at the offensive level. I had the opportunity to work with great players in Portugal, especially in my first year at Benfica the team was very strong.

"At this moment, what makes the difference is the way Flamengo players welcomed me, shared me and accepted my ideas. So, this is the strongest group I've had."

Flamengo produced a second-half turnaround to reach the Club World Cup final with a 3-1 win over Al Hilal, keeping hopes of a meeting with Liverpool alive.

The Copa Libertadores champions went into Tuesday's clash in Doha as heavy favourites but were well below par in the first half, Salem Al Dawsari putting the Saudi Arabian side on possible course for a shock victory.

However, the AFC Champions League winners faded after the interval as an instrumental performance from Bruno Henrique inspired a Flamengo comeback.

He teed up Giorgian de Arrascaeta for the equaliser soon after the restart and put Flamengo in front with a thumping header 12 minutes from time, before his cross made sure of success when Ali Hadi Albulayhi put through his own net.

Al Hilal then had Andre Carrillo sent off for a reckless challenge, Flamengo seeing out a win that could set up a rematch of their 1981 Intercontinental Cup defeat of Liverpool, who face Monterrey on Wednesday.

Flamengo were given an early warning in the 16th minute when Salem broke free down the left and forced a fine near-post save from Diego Alves. The ball broke to Bafetimbi Gomis, but the striker skied the rebound with an open goal in front of him.

Jorge Jesus' side did not learn their lesson from that scare, however, and Salem beat Alves two minutes later with a deflected strike after impressive work down the right from Mohammed Al-Burayk.

A response never looked like coming in a lacklustre first half from Flamengo, but they needed only three minutes of the second to level matters with a superbly worked team goal.

Gabriel Barbosa - the two-goal hero of their triumph in the Libertadores final - played an incisive pass into the box for Bruno Henrique, who unselfishly squared for De Arrascaeta to tap in.

Abdullah Al-Mayoof's goal was rarely threatened thereafter, but Flamengo found the killer ball in the 78th-minute as Rafinha's excellent right-wing cross was emphatically turned home by Bruno Henrique, who was celebrating again four minutes later.

Albulayhi could do nothing to avoid bundling Bruno Henrique's expertly placed delivery into his own net, with Al Hilal's frustration evident when Carrillo's moment of madness saw him rightly dismissed to end any hope of a dramatic twist in the tale.

Flamengo begin their Club World Cup campaign against Al Hilal in Tuesday's semi-final, with coach Jorge Jesus convinced they will prove themselves to be a better team than tournament favourites Liverpool.

Jesus – who coached Al Hilal until January this year – has overseen a wonderful few months for Flamengo since being appointed in June, guiding them to success in the Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores, which booked their place in the Club World Cup, adding to their Campeonato Carioca success prior to the Portuguese boss' arrival.

Flamengo lifted the Libertadores trophy for only the second time in their history thanks to a dramatic 2-1 win over defending champions River Plate last month – star striker Gabriel Barbosa netting twice in the final minutes of the match having crushed fellow Brazilians Gremio 6-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals.

The Rubro-Negro are generally seen as the only credible threat to European champions Liverpool, even if most expect Jurgen Klopp's men to have little trouble bringing the trophy back to Anfield.

But, ahead of Flamengo's semi-final clash with AFC Champions League winners Al Hilal, Jesus has his focus firmly on Liverpool.

"For everyone else, Liverpool are better [than Flamengo]," Jesus told TV Globo.

"What counts the most is for me. Others may think Liverpool are better, but if we get to the final we will see who is better.

"And I believe the best will be Flamengo, but it's the hardest title we'll ever play."

Al Hilal head into Tuesday's clash in strong form having won each of their past five matches across all competitions, including Saturday's 1-0 victory over ES Tunis in their first 2019 Club World Cup match.

Much of the pre-match focus in relation to the Saudi Arabian club has been on the Jesus link given he played a part in the construction of the squad.

But Carlos Eduardo does not think Jesus' familiarity with some of the Al Hilal team will have much significance, as the incumbent Razvan Lucescu is the third coach to take charge of club since the former Benfica boss left 11 months ago.

"For sure, he [Jesus] will try to change things that we know [about him and his tactics], but we're different to his time," the in-form midfielder told reporters. "It'll be totally different. We'll use our weapons for an advantage, he'll use his weapons to try for an advantage.

"The team's style is totally different [to when Jesus was there], so I don't think there's any issue of advantage for any side.

"Almost nothing [is the same], it's a different time, a different team. It's obvious some players could take and learn from their coach, but it's almost an entirely different team."

Lucescu added: "Everyone in the world knows Brazilian football produces a huge quantity of talented players, but football's not just about talent.

"It's about spirit, moments, opportunities the game opens to you. We play with nothing to lose knowing we play one of the best teams in the world."

Player to watch

Flamengo – Reinier

With Barbosa, Everton Ribeiro, Lincoln, Vitinho, Gerson and Giorgian de Arrascaeta at his disposal, Jesus is truly blessed with attacking talent. But one to keep an eye on – not just this week, but over the next few years – is 17-year-old attacking midfielder Reinier. The teenager has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence and is already being linked with major European clubs, such as Real Madrid and Arsenal. Skilful, a keen goal-scorer and impressively built for a teenager, Reinier could use this tournament as a springboard.

Al Hilal – Gustavo Cuellar

Much like Flamengo, Al Hilal have some solid options in attack with Sebastian Giovinco, Bafetimbi Gomis, Andre Carrillo and Carlos Eduardo. However, it is reasonable to expect the Saudi club to come under more of a defensive examination than the Brazilians, and that is where a familiar face will be expected to give Al Hilal an edge. Colombia international midfielder Cuellar played for Flamengo as recently as August and fills an important role for his new side, sitting just in front of the defence and breaking up attacking moves. His tenacity will be vital if Lucescu's men prevail.

Bafetimbi Gomis backed Al Hilal to reach the Club World Cup final after he scored a spectacular winning goal in his side's 1-0 quarter-final victory over ES Tunis.

The former Lyon, Marseille and Galatasaray forward came on as a second-half substitute and struck a volley from the edge of the penalty area 17 minutes from time to tee up a semi-final clash with South American champions Flamengo.

Gomis reflected on his recovery from a series of hamstring problems after further justifying Al Hilal's €6million investment with his latest crucial goal.

"It was a good team effort," the striker, who scored in the AFC Champions League final second leg last month, told reporters.

"I am happy I helped my team. All the players worked well; we played a very good game. I am happy I scored that goal.

"I am very happy because I worked a lot to come back to that level. I had surgery and it took me time to come back. So, I am very happy."

Gomis warned his team-mates that they will face stern opposition in Jorge Jesus' side in the last four but indicated that a narrow win had given Al Hilal belief.

"It will be a good game between two big teams," said the 34-year-old. "Flamengo have many qualities and a great coach.

"We don't know this team very well. Before having the opportunity to play against Flamengo, we needed to win against ES Tunis. We did it. Now, we hope we can play a good game and win against Flamengo.

"Everything is possible in football. We also have our qualities."

Liverpool have their sights set on a first Club World Cup title in Qatar, but may need to overcome a club that has denied them intercontinental glory in the past to add the trophy to their cabinet.

The Reds head to the Middle East as clear favourites to take home the trophy, and have given the competition precedence as they have named a strong squad despite a fixture pile-up that has come as a result of their participation in the tournament.

Jurgen Klopp's men will aim to clinch UEFA Champions League progression on Tuesday before facing Aston Villa in the EFL Cup a week later, with those fixtures sandwiched by the visit of Watford in the Premier League.

It is the trip to Villa Park that is set to see Liverpool rotate their squad and go with a young team for that quarter-final.

A star-studded forward line that has tormented the Premier League and opponents across Europe is therefore poised to face opposition they should be able to wreak even greater havoc against.

Fourteen years on from their 1-0 defeat to Sao Paulo in the final, Liverpool have another crack at Club World Cup glory. Their relentless domestic form suggests there will be no such let down this time around.

 

VAN DIJK RELISHING DIFFERENT CHALLENGE

Though it adds another two games to their workload at a time of the season when the fixture list is already packed, Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk is relishing the chance to make history for the Premier League leaders on the world stage.

"This squad can be the first Liverpool side to win the Club World Cup," Van Dijk told FIFA.com. "It'll be a great experience. We're all looking forward to going out there and hopefully get that trophy as well.

"We're at the stage right now where we have the experience of playing international football [with national teams]. We have players who've played all over the world anyway.

"It's going to be a totally different challenge for us but it's something that we're definitely looking forward to."

Having missed out on winning the Ballon d'Or and being recognised as the world's best footballer, centre-back Van Dijk will look to play an instrumental role in ensuring Liverpool finish the year as the planet's premier club side.


FLAMENGO OUT TO SPOIL THE PARTY

Liverpool's only appearance in the Club World Cup final saw them lose to a Brazilian side, and the first of their two defeats in the old Intercontinental Cup came at the hands of Flamengo in 1981.

The Rubro-Negro have an opportunity to repeat that feat after a hugely dramatic Copa Libertadores final win over River Plate, which saw Gabriel Barbosa score twice in three minutes in a frantic finale to earn a 2-1 victory.

Like Liverpool, Flamengo enter at the semi-final stage, though forward Bruno Henrique has allowed himself to think about a prospective showpiece with Klopp's side.

"Our goal is to become world champions," Bruno Henrique told FIFA.com. 

"Like us, Liverpool aren't guaranteed a place in the final, despite their favouritism. We're thinking about the semi-final first. But without doubt it would be amazing to face a team as good as Liverpool."


NEW FRONTIER FOR AMATEURS HIENGHENE

The winners of the second-round clash between AFC Champions League winners Al Hilal and CAF Champions League kings ES Tunis will face Flamengo in the last four.

CONCACAF Champions League holders Monterrey must wait to learn their opponents in the second round, with an amateur side from New Caledonia out to make an impression in Doha. 

OFC Champions League winners Hienghene Sport face Qatari side Al Sadd in the curtain raiser in Doha, and will be significant underdogs to book a meeting with Monterrey.

However, Hienghene's Tahitian coach Felix Tagawa expects his side to be undaunted by their status as tournament minnows.

"I'm waiting for my team to play without fear," Tagawa told FIFA.com. "We have players who like to play offensively and who are good footballers. It will be necessary to play with our forces, to play with our qualities, to play our football.

"We will discover the very high level of world football, but I trust my players and I know their potential. In any case we want to leave Qatar without regrets."

Paul Pogba remains on the sidelines but his club future is at the centre of the rumour mill.

According to a new report, Zinedine Zidane wants the Manchester United midfielder "at all costs".

Links between Pogba and Real Madrid have long been established, but it seems not all in the Spanish capital are keen on the move.

 

TOP STORY – ZIDANE WANTS TO POACH POGBA

Zidane views compatriot Pogba as "the final piece of the puzzle" for Madrid and has implored the club to secure his signature, reports Marca.

The Los Blancos boss reportedly made Pogba's arrival his only demand when he returned to the Santiago Bernabeu in March for a second stint as head coach.

However, Madrid executives are said to be sceptical about splashing at least €120million for a player who would potentially take a first-team spot from the improving Federico Valverde.

Zidane and Pogba had a "chance" encounter in Dubai in October, where the 26-year-old was undergoing warm-weather rehabilitation on his injured ankle.

ROUND-UP

- Paris Saint-Germain have been impressed with Mauro Icardi and will look to tie the on-loan striker to a permanent deal, claims CalcioMercato. The Ligue 1 champions can reportedly land the Inter outcast for €70m.

- Arsenal, West Ham and any other Premier League teams aiming to appoint Rafael Benitez would have to pay £20m to release him from his Dalian Yifang contract, says the Daily Mail.

- Copa Libertadores champions Flamengo could pull the plug on a bid for Gabriel Barbosa after growing frustrated with the forward's reluctance to finalise the arrangement, according to Fox Sports Brazil. 'Gabigol' is on loan from Inter and reportedly coverts a second chance in Europe.

- CalcioMercato reports Milan are plotting to sign PSG left-back Layvin Kurzawa when his contract expires at the end of the season.

- Jose Mourinho's Tottenham hope to capture Norwich City centre-back Ben Godfrey in January for around £25m, reports Football Insider.

Jadon Sancho looks set to leave Borussia Dortmund sooner rather than later.

Sancho has established himself as one of the best young players in Europe since leaving Manchester City for Dortmund in 2017.

However, the 19-year-old's stay in Germany appears to be coming to an end.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND READY TO PART WITH SANCHO

Dortmund are ready to do business and sell in-demand star Sancho, according to the Independent.

The teenager is wanted by Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Barcelona after starring since arriving in the Bundesliga.

But Dortmund are willing to let the England international leave as soon as January due to a breakdown in relationships.

The winger was benched for the midweek Champions League defeat at Barcelona, having felt humiliated by his first-half withdrawal in the Klassiker rout to Bayern Munich.

 

ROUND-UP

- La Nazione says Premier League leaders and Champions League holders Liverpool are interested in Fiorentina star Federico Chiesa. The 22-year-old has sparkled in Florence, leading to links with Serie A champions Juventus and Inter.

- Could Everton be set for a South American triple swoop? According to the Liverpool Echo, the Merseyside club are keen on signing Inter forward Gabriel Barbosa – on loan at Flamengo – and River Plate's Rafael Santos Borre. It comes as the Toffees have reportedly identified Flamengo head coach Jorge Jesus as a possible candidate to succeed Marco Silva following his Copa Libertadores and domestic success.

- Marca claims James Rodriguez has turned down a move to Arsenal. According to reports in England, the Gunners want James in January. However, the Madrid playmaker wants to stay in the Spanish capital.

- High-flying Inter are eager to sign Atalanta full-back Robin Gosens, reports Calciomercato.

Milan are targeting Juventus centre-back Merih Demiral, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. The Turkey international has struggled for game time following his arrival in Turin this season.

- As Flamengo struggle to secure a permanent deal for loan star Barbosa, Goal says the Copa Libertadores champions are in talks to sign Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa.

Manchester City have set their sights on Brescia and Italy sensation Sandro Tonali, says Fichajes. The 19-year-old is attracting interest from all over Europe.

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