A midfield clash from the 2014 World Cup Final took place in the unlikeliest of surroundings of the Thani Bin Jassim stadium in Doha on Thursday evening. Eight years on from Spain taking on Holland in Soccer City, and just over four years to go for the 2022 Qatar World Cup and Xavi of Al Sadd faced off against Wesley Sneijder, who has recently signed for mid-table Al Gharafa in the 14th round of the QNB Stars League.
Second-placed Al Sadd enjoyed much of the early going against Gharafa, with Xavi dictating the game with his metronomic passing setting the tempo for Sadd’s attack. An early chance came as a shot from Qatar international striker Hassan Haydoos flashed with the match just seven minutes old.
As for Sneijder, who was playing his third game after his much-heralded free transfer from Ligue 1 side Nice and in truth seemed to lack match practice. The highlight for the Gharafa captain was a curved through ball with the outside of his left boot to put through a team-mate, who was promptly flagged offside.
Predictably, Sadd opened the scoring through Algerian midfielder Jugurtha Hamroun with a close-range tap-in on the 33rd minute and scored a carbon copy on the stroke of half-time to give Xavi’s Al Sadd a comfortable 2-0 lead at the break.
Sneijder failed to inspire Al Gharafa, who is nicknamed the Cheetahs and was promptly substituted on the hour mark, to applause from the hundreds of Al Gharafa fans present. Al Sadd were in the ascendancy with Xavi, who was celebrating his 38th birthday was in his element controlling the game for Al Sadd, and promptly received the birthday bumps for his role in the Wolves third goal.
Two further goals late in the game from Qatar international captain Hassan Haydoos sealed the 4-0 win for Al Sadd. Giving former Barcelona midfielder Xavi bragging rights over Sneijder for now.