Club World Cup Profile: Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito

The Ecuadorian team that surprised South America last year is aiming to do the same on the global stage at FIFA's Club World Cup this month...

Opening match: Plays winner of Al Ahly (Egypt) and Pachuca (Mexico) in the semi-final on December 17

How They Got There

Liga de Quito qualified for the FIFA Club World Cup, after an extraordinary Copa Libertadores title triumph in July. In the knock-out rounds, the Ecuadorian giants dispatched Argentine clubs Estudiantes de La Plata and San Lorenzo, and Club América of Mexico. In the final of the competition, they tied 5-5 with Fluminense of Brazil over the two legs, and went on to win the penalty shoot-out 3-1 in-front of 90,000 fans at the legendary Maracanã stadium, in Rio de Janeiro.

About The Club 

Liga de Quito are historically one of the strongest teams in Ecuadorian football, with the biggest fan base in the capital, and the second largest in Ecuador, behind Barcelona de Guayaquil. Since they were founded back in 1930 they have won a number of domestic titles. They are a well structured club, who boast one of South America's most impressive stadiums, the 55,000 capacity Estadio de Liga Deportivo Universitaria, commonly referred to as La Casa Blanca.
Since claiming their first national championship back in 1969, Liga have gone on to win the championship eight more times, the last of these being in 2007. In terms of domestic achievements Liga are the fourth most successful club in Ecuador, behind Barcelona Sporting Club (13 titles), Club Deportivo El Nacional (13 titles), and Club Sport Emelec (10 titles).
However, their Copa Libertadores title triumph sets them apart from the rest. They were the first Ecuadorian team to lift South America's most prestigious club title, and in actual fact it was the first major international title triumph by any Ecuadorian club. 

Much of the credit should go towards Edgardo Bauza, the Argentine coach of the club, who assembled a formidable side, with overwhelming strength in all sectors of the field. His tactics were crucial as his side overwhelmed several big clubs, who seemed superior to them throughout the tournament. Despite tempting offers to return to Argentina, Bauza decided to remain at the club, looking ahead to the FIFA Club World Cup.
Liga, perhaps Ecuador's most financially stable club, have attracted several high-profile players in recent years. Their Copa Libertadores success had much to do with the depth of their squad, where the likes of Joffre Guerrón, Enrique Vera, Luis Bolaños, Patricio Urrutia, Damián Manso, and José Francisco Cevallos particularly stood out. Since the triumph, Liga lost two of their key players - Guerrón and Vera -- who moved to Getafe and Club América, respectively. These were great losses, that have affected the squad a great deal.
Players to watch
Luis Bolaños - 
Bolaños, 23, is one of Liga's most dangerous attacking weapons, and he proved his worth in Liga's amazing Copa Libertadores title run. The Ecuadorian international is a very skilful player who finds the back of the net on a regular basis. Liga have received a number of offers for the player from Europe in recent months, but decided not to transfer him, so that he can help lead the club to a possible Club World Cup championship. Much is expected of the winger in the tournament.
José Francisco Cevallos - The 37-year-old goalkeeper was perhaps Liga's most influential player in the Copa Libertadores. The experienced goalkeeper played key roles as Liga overcame San Lorenzo in the quarter-finals of the competition, after a penalty shoot-out victory where he saved Aureliano Torres' spot-kick. In the title decider, against Fluminense, at Maracanã stadium, Cevallos made three crucial saves in the penalty-shoot -- efforts from Darío Conca, Thiago Neves and Washington -- as his side won 3-1. Cevallos in Liga's most experienced player, and his form is likely to determine the overall success of the side.

Chances of beating Manchester United
Liga de Quito enter the tournament with the intention to meet Manchester United in the final. Since they won the Copa Libertadores they have been preparing for what would be a fascinating match-up with the European champions. South American clubs have a good history against their European counterparts, and although Liga de Quito aren't considered a traditional South American power, perhaps they are the only team in the competition worthy of upsetting United.
Liga weren't in good form in the Ecuadorian championship last season, which was won by crosstown rivals Deportivo Quito, but they still boast an incredibly talented squad that have the potential to give United a run for their money. Liga will be disappointed with anything less than the title.

Fact box 
Nickname: Los Albos
Founded: January 19, 1930
Stadium: Estadio de Liga Deportiva Universitaria
Coach: Edgardo Bauza (Argentina)
President: Carlos Arroyo (Ecuador)
Honours: Domestic -Ecuadorian National Championship (9): 1969, 1974, 1975, 1990, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007. 
International: Copa Libertadores: 2008

Gregory Sica