Peace Cup 2009: A Look At The 12 Teams, From Aston Villa To Real Madrid

Join for a look ahead to the Peace Cup 2009 in Andalucia, which will play host to 12 top teams between July 24th and August 2nd...

The Peace Cup 2009 is underway, with the twelve clubs involved all set for action in Andalucia and Madrid.

For most it's a chance to rush headlong into pre-season: having rested up, the action begins in the heat of a Spanish summer - a great preparation for competitive action to come.

To help you get a feel for each of the twelve clubs involved, here we provide a brief fact-file on each team involved in the tournament.

Europe, Asia, and South America are all represented at this year's tournament, although three of the clubs involved are from the host country of Spain (and two of these from the host community of Andalucia).

Click the links in each profile to access (in descending order) the team page, a star player profile, and the Peace Cup club guide.4


 Al-Ittihad (Saudi Arabia)
Founded: 1928
Coach: Gabriel Calderon (Argentina)
Star player: Emad Moteab
Full team profile

Making their first appearance in the Peace Cup, Al-Ittihad were in early April crowned as Saudi Arabian league champions on the final day of the season after defeating arch-rivals Al-Hilal 2-1 in Riyadh. This Jeddah-based club have twice won the Asian Champions League and are considered to be one of the most popular teams in their country.

 Aston Villa (England)
Founded: 1874
Coach: Martin O'Neill (Northern Ireland)
Star player: John Carew
Full team profile

Former European Cup winners Aston Villa are challenging for a top four berth in the English Premier League at present under the tutelage of renowned coach Martin O'Neill. The Birmingham club are one of the biggest draws for the Peace Cup as they bring with them EPL prestige, as well as a healthy support.

Atlante (Mexico)
Founded: 1916
Coach: José Guadalupe Cruz
Star player: Giancarlo Maldonado
Full team profile

Cancun's top side replace Celtic in the tournament and bring with them Mexican flair. The Iron Colts had a disappointing Clausura campaign, finishing just 14th overall, and have much to prove in Spain. On the pitch, Giancarlo Maldonado is possibly on the move this summer, but if he arrives in Andalusia he's likely to set the tournament alight: the Venezuelan is a noted goal-getter.

Besiktas (Turkey)
Founded: 1903
Coach: Mustafa Denizli
Star player: Nihat Kahveci
Full team profile

Late, late replacements for fellow Turkish outfit Fenerbahce, Besiktas stepped in after the Yellow Canaries entered the Champions League at the third qualifying round. They're worthy adversaries nonetheless: as Turkish champions they are sure to provide a stern test, not least when faced with goal: Brazilian forward Bobo is the top scorer, but goals tend to comes from all over the pitch for this team, which is high on confidence.

 Juventus (Italy)
Founded: 1897
Coach: Ciro Ferrara (Italy)
Star player: Alessandro Del Piero
Full team profile

They may have slipped behind Inter Milan in terms of their position within Serie A in recent seasons, but the Turin giants are still the best supported Italian team in the world.  Bouncing back from their demotion to Serie B, Juventus surprised friend and foe by qualifying for the Champions League last season, and are well placed to repeat that feat this campaign.  The 'Old Lady' still has a host of star names in her ranks including Alessandro Del Piero, David Trezeguet and Italy's first choice goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon

 LDU Quito (Ecuador)
Founded: 1930
Coach: Jorge Fossati (Uruguay)
Star player: Patricio Urrutia
Full team profile

The Ecuadorians were surprise winners of the 2008 Copa Libertadores becoming the first ever Ecuadorian team to win the tournament in the process.  Although a number of players from that team have left for pastures new several members remain including star goalkeeper Jose Francisco Cevallos (voted Number One Goalkeeper in South America) as well as Paul Ambrosi, Damian Manso and Franklin Salas. LDU performed creditably to reach the final of the World Club Championships last December, and could spring a surprise at the tournament itself.

 Malaga (Spain)
Founded: 1994
Coach: Antonio Tapia (Spain)
Star player: Weligton
Full team profile

The local side have been one of the revelations of La Liga this term after regaining their top-flight status last season.  The management team have put together a side mainly comprised of loan signings, cast-offs from other teams and canny free transfers to challenge for a European spot.  Reputed to be the quickest player in La Liga, Eliseu raiding down the left flank is a constant threat to defences getting crosses in for French striker Baha.

 Olympique Lyonnais (France)
Founded: 1950
Coach: Claude Puel (France)
Star player: Lisandro Lopez
Full team profile

The seven-times champions of France may have a fight on their hands to retain their crown this season, but they have dominated French football for nearly a decade.  The side from the Stade Gerland have a number of stars including the outstanding Brazilian midfielder Juninho, as well as one of Europe's hottest striking properties in the form of Karim Benzema.  Their credentials in the tournament are outstanding finishing as runners-up in 2003 and 2005 and winning it in 2007. 

 FC Porto (Portugal)
Founded: 1893
Coach: Jesualdo Ferreira (Portugal)
Star player: Bruno Alves
Full team profile

The 23-times winners of the Portuguese league FC Porto have developed a world-wide reputation for being one of the best nurseries for talent.  They are once again on course to win the Portuguese Superliga. FC Porto are not only famed for developing South American talents such as Diego and Deco they've also helped bring on Portuguese players such as Ricardo Carvalho.  The current crop of players aren't too bad either with several bigger European teams looking at the like of Lisandro Lopez and Cristian Rodriguez.

 Real Madrid (Spain)
Founded: 1902
Coach: Manuel Pellegrini (Chile)
Star player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Full team profile

Undoubtedly the star attraction at the tournament, the Spanish giants are certain to be a big draw.  Under Juande Ramos they have combined the flair traditionally associated with Real Madrid with a more pragmatic approach to defending.  This season may have brought more disappointment in terms of catching Barcelona in the league and a premature exit in the Champions League, but the Peace Cup represents the first step on the road to potential glory in 2009-10.  The side have played some of the best football the demanding Real Madrid fans have seen in recent seasons as they attempt to keep the pressure on arch-rivals Barcelona.  The favourites for the tournament, Real Madrid will be big crowd pullers, not least due to the 'Galactico' signings of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka.

 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (South Korea)
Founded: 1989
Coach: Shin Tae-Young (Korea)
Star player: Kim Jung-Woo
Full team profile

One of the biggest teams in the K-League, Seongnam hosted the tournament initially in Korea.  They've been a record seven times K-League Champions since 1993, including four times since the turn of the century, although they lost out in the first round of play-offs in 2008 despite finishing 3rd in the regular season.  Their Brazilian striker Dudu finished K-League top scorer in 2008 with 15 goals after arriving back at the club on loan from FC Seoul.  The organiser in midfielder is Korean international Kim Jung-Woo, who had a recent trial with Wigan.  Whilst they may be relative unknowns at the tournament they'll be halfway through their season, so in much better shape physically than most of their European opponents. 

 Sevilla (Spain)
Founded: 1905
Coach: Manolo Jimenez (Spain)
Star player: Fredi Kanoute
Full team profile

The local favourites for the tournament Sevilla are arguably the side best placed long-term to challenge the dominance exerted over La Liga by Barcelona and Real Madrid.  UEFA Cup winners in 2005 and 2006 their continental credentials are beyond question as well.  The lively front pairing of Fredi Kanoute and Luis Fabiano are amongst the most dangerous in Spain whilst Diego Capel and Jesus Navas on the flanks are considered two of Spain's finest prospects.  Capable of beating anyone on their day, Sevilla are an outstanding cup side, this being illustrated by their recent wins in the Copa del Rey, as well as Europe.