Wednesday 15 May 2024, 02:30

Cambiasso: Global expectations are raised for the FIFA Club World Cup 25™

  • Three of Esteban Cambiasso’s former clubs, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and River Plate, have all qualified for the new tournament

  • The Argentinian won the Intercontinental Cup with the Spanish club and the current version of the FIFA Club World Cup with the Nerazzurri

  • “It’ll have a unique flavour,” said the ex-midfielder

Esteban Cambiasso is likely to have split loyalties during the FIFA Club World Cup 2025™: three of his previous clubs – Real Madrid, Inter Milan and River Plate – have all qualified for the inaugural competition, which will be played in the USA and will feature 32 of the greatest club sides on the planet. The former Argentina international is certainly well placed to comment, having competed in – and won – its two direct predecessors, the Intercontinental Cup (with Los Merengues in 2002) and the FIFA Club World Cup (with the Nerazzurri in 2010). “The novelty of a 32-team Club World Cup could be pretty interesting, particularly as it gives more teams the chance to take part,” the man who amassed 18 club trophies in his career told FIFA Inside.

IFA Legend Esteban Cambiasso

"That generates greater expectations around the globe, because qualification is no longer just about winning a continental title, like the Champions League or the Copa Libertadores, but it’s also about gaining a lot of results during the period to make it,” he added. Cambiasso, who starred in one FIFA World Cup™, one FIFA U-17 World Cup and two FIFA U-20 World Cups, nods when asked if he would have liked to play in the new Club World Cup. "I've had the good fortune to experience the other format, and I've played in the Intercontinental Cup before, so I think it’ll have a unique flavour. More teams means more good matches. And it gives you the chance to test yourself against great opponents. That, as a footballer, is also exciting."

River Plate were the latest of Cambiasso’s former teams to qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup 2025™, clinching their place via the Confederation rankings this week, courtesy of the points they picked up in this season’s Copa Libertadores. What place does the Buenos Aires club occupy in his heart? “My first professional trophy came with River, and that's something you just never forget," said the 43-year-old. He continued: “For an Argentinian team, playing in the Club World Cup is a serious objective. I hope that, especially in this initial tournament, we can compete well and go as far as possible. Because at the end of the day, football is about dreaming of the highest step. Then you see how far you can get.”

Cambiasso was keen to emphasise how important it is for South American teams to play against European opposition. “Playing European sides has always been a source of motivation for South Americans,” he said. “They normally have all the top players, so it’s a chance to take on the best. It used to involve just one team, but now there will be more. “I believe the focus is not so much on the rivalry between South America and Europe, but between the other continents: they will also have the chance to play against the best.”

FIFA Legend Esteban Cambiasso