Factory of Aces ready for CWC

Celeiro de Ases, innit

Celeiro de Ases – the moniker often associated with Sport Club International.

The phrase is Portuguese for ‘Factory of Aces’ and refers to the quality of players brought through the Porto Alegre club’s youth system over the decades.

World Cup winners Taffarel, Lucio and Dunga passed through the club’s famous academy, as did the likes of Paulo Roberto Falcao, Batista and Aloisio.

Internacional graduates also pepper the game across the world and have formed the crux on which the club has based its recent successes.

Over the past four years Inter have enjoyed unparalleled continental success, winning all Latin American football’s major club titles – the Copa Sudamericana, the Recopa Sudamericana and Copa Libertadores twice.

Furthermore, these successes were capped by a golden moment in 2006 – winning the FIFA Club World Cup.

Celeiro de Ases graduate Alexandre Pato set the tournament alight with a thrilling mix of skill and guile, before Adriano Gabiru netted the decisive goal in the final to help Internacional topple Barcelona and secure the trophy against the odds.

The win in Japan propelled O Colorado to new-found heights and earned several of its players big money moves to Europe, notably Pato’s 22 million euros transfer to AC Milan.

Fellow graduates Luiz Adriano, Taison and Nilmar followed suit, but Internacional still boast a squad blessed with a blend of young talent and veteran pros.

Prodigious Brazil international Giuliano is the pick of the current youngsters, which are supported by experience in the shape of skipper Bolivar, Tinga and Rafael Sobis.

The latter, a Brazil international and academy graduate, will be looking to make an impression in Abu Dhabi having left the city’s Al-Jazira club on-loan earlier this year.

Internacional will face the winners of TP Mazembe’s clash with Pachuca in the semi-final stage at Sobis’ old haunt, the Al Jazira Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on December 14.

Despite being a bit-part player for Internacional since rejoining, coach Celso Roth has backed the 25-year-old to come to the fore at the Club World Cup.

“This for me is no surprise,” he said after seeing Sobis score in consecutive matches. “It was just a question of match practice, and I knew that he would give me the right response.

“Rafael can play as an attacker in a 4-4-2 or as a wide midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 set-up,” he added, revealing his option to line up the player along with Tinga and Andres D’Alessandro in a three-pronged attack.

D’Alessandro, another of Internacional’s older heads, has blossomed since joining the club in 2008 and is currently the only Argentina international plying his trade in Brazil.

After a mixed five-year spell in Europe in Germany, Spain and England, D’Alessandro is now enjoying possibly the finest run of his career.

However, the 29-year-old is not getting complacent and has his sights firmly set on glory in Abu Dhabi.

“I’m having a very good spell, but I’m not sure it’s my best,” he said in October. “But it is good because I’ve won titles, which are any player’s main objectives.

“I performed well in the Libertadores and things are also going well in the Brazilian championship. There’s no doubt that I’ve got to make the most of this period.

“I’ve already won the Libertadores, so there’s no doubt at all that this would now be the most important title of my career,” he added. “At club level it’s the biggest competition we can take part in.”

The Porto Alegre side could well face Inter Milan in the final, something that D’Alessandro admits he has spoken about in length with his international colleagues at the Nerazzurri.

“We spoke about this a lot, especially on this recent trip to Japan, but we never let the conversations get too serious,” he said. “I know Esteban Cambiasso, Diego Milito, Javier Zanetti and Walter Samuel and they’re excellent players.

“We feel proud to have this opportunity but, in my mind, European teams are a cut above. Let’s just wait and see how well we fare.

“We’ve got to play a semi-final match first and we can’t think about them until that’s over.

“Anyway, we’re working hard to make sure that final match comes about and we’re not going to sell ourselves short.”

Inter be warned; the Factory of Aces are no pushovers, as Barca can vouch.

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