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Football

Heavyweights intensify fight for CLUB WORLD CUP berths

FIFA

The race to claim the fourth and final Concacaf place at the inaugural 32-team Mundial de Clubes FIFA 25™ (FIFA Club World Cup 2025™) heats up this week as the Concacaf Champions Cup is whittled down to the final four, while the UEFA Champions League last eight also gets under way.

In Africa, two places remain up for grabs after the completion of the quarter-final stage in the CAF Champions League. Mexican clubs are dominating the race to win the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup and join Monterrey (MEX), Seattle Sounders (USA) and Club Leon (MEX), who qualified by winning the three previous editions.

Monterrey host Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami (USA) with a 2-1 lead from last week’s first leg while Pachuca (MEX) have 5-0 advantage over Herediano (CRC) as they entertain the Costa Rican side at the Estadio Hidalgo.

Club America (MEX) also enjoy a commanding lead against New England Revolution (USA) (4-0) following an away win last week and Tigres (MEX) have a slight edge over Columbus Crew (USA), having drawn 1-1 away in the first leg. Should Monterrey win the title again, that would open up one place via the ranking pathway, which would be Philadelphia Union (USA).

In Europe, five-time European champions Barcelona (ESP) must eliminate Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final to keep alive their chances of qualifying, either via the rankings or as winners of this season’s competition. If Xavi’s side lose the tie, then Atletico Madrid (ESP) will be guaranteed a place via the ranking pathway regardless of how they fare against Borussia Dortmund (GER).

Similarly, FC Salzburg will book their place if Arsenal (ENG) – who can only qualify as champions – are knocked out by Bayern Munich (GER). The first legs will be played on 9 and 10 April with the returns one week later. There are no other teams in contention for the two remaining UEFA places.

Two places are also still open in Africa where Al Ahly (EGY), CAF Champions League winners in 2020/21 and 2022/23, and Wydad (MAR), winners in 2021/22, have already qualified as continental champions. One will go to the winners of this year’s CAF Champions League and the other via the ranking pathway, which will be either Mamelodi Sundowns (RSA) or ES Tunis (TUN).

Both of those teams won their quarter-finals on penalties after 0-0 aggregate draws against Young Africans (TAN) and ASEC Mimosas (CIV) respectively and face each other in the semi-final on 19 and 26 April. Both will qualify if Al Ahly, who meet Tout Puissant Mazembe (COD) in the other tie on 20 and 26 April, win a record 12th title.

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