Saturday 13 April 2024, 18:00

Atletico Madrid and Barcelona resume race to reach Mundial de Clubes FIFA 25™

  • Only one of heavyweight Spanish pair will claim a place in the United States next year

  • South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns could seal their spot on Saturday

  • Ulsan just a win away from becoming first Korean club to qualify for the new 32-team tournament

Spanish duo Club Atletico de Madrid (ESP) and FC Barcelona (ESP) resume their race to reach the inaugural Mundial de Clubes FIFA 25™ (FIFA Club World Cup 2025™) that only one of them can win in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final second legs on Tuesday, while spots in Asia and Africa could also be decided in the coming days.

Tuesday 16 April


Following their 2-1 first-leg win against BV Borussia 09 Dortmund (GER), Atleti are well-placed to join city rivals Real Madrid CF (ESP) as Spain’s second representative via the rankings pathway. With just nine points left to play for (7 from matches, 2 by advancing to further rounds), Diego Simeone’s men are six points clear of Barcelona in the standings.

If Barcelona, who hold a 3-2 first-leg lead, are knocked out by Paris Saint-Germain FC (FRA), Atletico’s place would also be secured. If both go through, they will face each other in the final four with the second Spanish spot still on the line – either through the champions or rankings pathway.

Either would qualify as European champions, but it is impossible for both teams to reach the United States.

The players of FC Barcelona show appreciation to the fans

If Atletico win the second leg against a Dortmund side who have already clinched their FIFA Club World Cup 2025 place, there is only one way for Barcelona to deny their La Liga rivals a place in the inaugural 32-team competition via the rankings pathway: win their quarter-final second leg, defeat Atletico in both semi-final legs and lose the final in a penalty shoot-out.

If Atletico achieve a better second-leg result than their domestic rivals, Barcelona will no longer be able to overtake Atletico in the rankings and can only displace them in the United States as 2023/24 European champions.

Winning a sixth European crown would clinch Barça a place at Atletico’s expense. If Barcelona win the second leg and Atleti are eliminated, Xavi Hernandez’s men would close to within three points of their compatriots in the rankings. To overhaul Atletico, however, Barcelona would still need to reach this season's UEFA Champions League final.


Two places remain up for grabs in Asia: one for the winners of the 2023/24 AFC Champions League, the other via the ranking pathway.

Al Hilal fans celebrate in the stands

Al Ain FC (UAE) host Saudi four-time AFC Champions League winners Al Hilal in Tuesday's semi-final first leg. While Al Hilal's 2021 win in the competition means their FIFA Club World Cup 2025 place is already secure, a fifth continental crown this season would activate a second rankings slot and take Korean duo, Ulsan HD FC (KOR) and Jeonbuk Motors (KOR), with them to the United States.

The picture is crystal clear for Al Ain – they must lift the AFC Champions League trophy to seal a place in the United States.

Wednesday 17 April


Arsenal FC’s (ENG) only route to the FIFA Club World Cup 2025 passes through winning the UEFA Champions League for the first time. They travel to Munich on Wednesday where FC Bayern München (GER), who secured a 2-2 first-leg draw in London, have already guaranteed a spot in the global showpiece as Germany’s top-ranked team. If Bayern progress, they will earn Austrian neighours FC Salzburg (AUT) a place in the US via the rankings pathway.

Arsenal fans show their support

As the last two winners of the UEFA Champions League, both Manchester City FC (ENG) and Real Madrid, who play their second leg in England on Wednesday, have already secured their places at the FIFA Club World Cup.


Ulsan will secure a place in the FIFA Club World Cup 2025 if they win against Japanese side Yokohama F. Marinos (JPN) on Wednesday. In fact, two draws in their remaining games in the competition - or progressing to the final - would also see Ulsan claim the rankings pathway place.

If Ulsan and Al Hilal reach the final, Jeonbuk - who were knocked out by Ulsan in the quarter-finals - would be assured of a place via the rankings pathway.

Yokohama know only a first AFC Champions League title is enough for them to progress.

Ulsan Hyundai fans celebrate

Saturday 20 April


By coincidence, the two teams still in contention for the one guaranteed spot available to an African team at the FIFA Club World Cup 2025 via the rankings pathway meet in the CAF Champions League semi-finals as ES Tunis (TUN), with 90 points, host Mamelodi Sundowns FC (RSA), who have 98, in Saturday’s first leg.

With a maximum 12 points still available to non-champions, a Mamelodi first-leg win would guarantee their qualification for the global tournament next year as they would be 11 points ahead of their opponents with only nine still available.

A draw would leave ES Tunis still eight points back and needing to win the semi-final second leg and one of the two legs of the final to overtake Mamelodi. Should the Tunisians win both semi-final legs, they would overtake Mamelodi.

Fans of Al Ahli during the Saudi Pro League

Both teams will qualify if Al Ahly SC (EGY), who have already qualified as the current African champions, eliminate TP Mazembe (COD) in the other semi-final as that will open two qualifying places via the rankings pathway. Only a TP Mazembe triumph in the competition overall can prevent ES Tunis and Mamelodi Sundowns from both punching their ticket for the United States.