Monday 11 March 2024, 11:00

Atlético Madrid or Juventus set to book place in Mundial de Clubes 25™ as qualifying race continues

  • Three more teams could book their places in the inaugural Mundial de Clubes FIFA™ this week

  • Either Juventus or Atlético Madrid will join the 20 clubs already qualified

  • Jeonbuk Motors FC and FC Salzburg could also qualify

Three more clubs could claim their places this week in the inaugural edition of FIFA’s new prime club competition, Mundial de Clubes FIFA™, joining the 20 clubs who have already qualified for the 32-team tournament in the USA next year. One of Juventus FC (ITA) and Club Atlético de Madrid (ESP) will qualify, while Jeonbuk Motors FC (KOR) and FC Salzburg (AUT) could also book their spots. The UEFA Champions League (UCL) round of 16 second leg on 12 March between FC Barcelona (ESP) and SSC Napoli (ITA), which is level at 1-1 after the first leg in Italy on 21 February is a key fixture, both for the two participants and two other European giants. A win for five-time European champions Barcelona will not only keep alive their hopes of qualifying, either as 2023/24 UCL champions or via the ranking pathway, but it will also guarantee Juventus, the most successful club in Italian domestic football, a place via the rankings and eliminate Napoli. On the other hand, a win for Napoli would keep the Partenopei in the hunt and ensure that Atlético Madrid qualify via the rankings, while eliminating Barcelona.

Salzburg's Oscar Gloukh celebrates with teammates

FC Salzburg will be assured of a place at the Mundial de Clubes FIFA via the rankings pathway if both FC Porto (POR) eliminate Arsenal FC (ENG) on 12 March and BV Borussia 09 Dortmund (GER) overcome PSV Eindhoven (NED) the following evening. Arsenal and PSV can only qualify as winners of this season’s competition. Twice European champions Porto, already qualified via the ranking pathway, have a 1-0 lead from the first leg in Portugal while Dortmund, who qualified via Europe’s ranking pathway last week, held PSV 1-1 in the Netherlands. Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid host Simone Inzaghi’s FC Internazionale Milano (ITA) – already qualified through the rankings – in the week’s other tie on 13 March. There are no other clubs still in contention for the 12 European slots. Manchester City FC (ENG), Real Madrid CF (ESP) and Chelsea FC (ENG) have already qualified as continental champions and FC Bayern München (GER), Paris Saint-Germain FC (FRA), FC Internazionale Milano, FC Porto, SL Benfica (POR) and Borussia Dortmund have earned their places via the ranking pathway.

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors players celebrate

This week could also prove decisive in Asia where twice AFC Champions League (ACL) and nine-times K-League winners Jeonbuk Motors have a chance to clinch their place via the ranking pathway. Jeonbuk travel to Ulsan HD FC in the second leg of their ACL quarter-final on 12 March and will secure qualification if they win the tie, which is level at 1-1 after the first leg. Ulsan can also still qualify via rankings, but a victory over Jeonbuk would improve their prospects.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr (KSA), Al Ain (UAE), Al Hilal (KSA), Al Ittihad (KSA), Shandong Taishan (CHN) and Yokohama F. Marinos (JPN) will aim to keep alive their hopes of qualifying in the other quarter-final ties this week. On the other side of the world, the race to claim the fourth and final Concacaf place as winners of this season’s Concacaf Champions Cup continues with the Round of 16 second leg ties on 12-14 March. Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami CF (USA) are among the contenders and the Argentina captain was on target last week, along with Uruguay’s Luis Suárez, as they fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 away to Nashville SC (USA).

Lionel Messi #10, Sergio Busquets #5 and Luis Suarez #9 of Inter Miami celebrate

CF Monterrey (MEX), Seattle Sounders FC (USA) and Club León (MEX) have already qualified after winning the Concacaf Champions Cup in 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively. This week will also see the conclusion of the qualifying stage of the 2024 CONMEBOL Libertadores in South America, where three of the six places are still up for grabs – one for this year’s winners and two via the ranking pathway. However, there is still a long way to go in South America with the final scheduled for Buenos Aires on 30 November. SE Palmeiras (BRA) (2021), CR Flamengo (BRA) (2022) and Fluminense FC (BRA) (2023) are the trio of elite Brazilian clubs that have already secured their spot having won the past three editions of the CONMEBOL Libertadores.