Monday 06 May 2024, 13:00

River Plate eye 27th qualification spot at Mundial de Clubes FIFA™

  • Four-time South American champions River can secure their place by winning away to Nacional

  • Boca Juniors remain well placed but face an anxious wait

  • CONMEBOL Libertadores has reached the halfway point in the group stage

Four-time South American champions Club Atlético River Plate (ARG), one of the giants of Argentinian football, can claim their place at the inaugural Mundial de Clubes FIFA 25™ (FIFA Club World Cup 2025™) if they win their next CONMEBOL Libertadores match, away to Club Nacional de Football (URU), on 7 May. A win for the Millionaires would guarantee them a place via the ranking pathway and make them the first non-Brazilian side from South America to qualify for the 32-team tournament in the United States. Meanwhile, River’s great rivals Club Atlético Boca Juniors (ARG), who are not participating in the CONMEBOL Libertadores this season but still have a good chance of taking the second of the two guaranteed spots available via the ranking pathway, will be watching anxiously from the sidelines. Brazilian teams have dominated recent editions of the Libertadores with SE Palmeiras (BRA), CR Flamengo (BRA), and Fluminense FC (BRA) winning the last three titles to qualify for next year’s FIFA Club World Cup. They will be joined by the winners of this year’s Libertadores plus the top two teams in the rankings, which are calculated over four seasons. However, should one of those three win again this season, then a third ranking place would open up for a non-Brazilian team. The Libertadores group stage is currently at the halfway mark with 32 teams still theoretically in the running for the title although several could be eliminated during the coming days.

Edinson Cavani of Boca Juniors

River Plate (76 pts), six-time South American champions Boca Juniors (71) and three-time champions Club Olimpia (PAR) (57) currently lead the rankings with another 40 points available – 12 by progressing through the stages and 28 in matches. They are followed by Nacional 49, CSD Independiente del Valle (ECU) 45, Club Cerro Porteño (PAR) 44, Barcelona SC (ECU) 42, Club Bolívar (BOL) 36, Estudiantes (ARG) 34, Talleres (ARG) 34, The Strongest (BOL) 34 and Club Libertad (PAR) 33. Olimpia, like Boca, are not taking part this season. If Martín Demichelis’s River Plate overcome Nacional, themselves three-time Libertadores winners, in Group H, they will earn six more points – three for the win and three for reaching the next round – which would guarantee them a top-two finish in the ranking. River previously won the Intercontinental Cup in 1986 and reached the FIFA Club World Cup final in 2015.

Ahmed Barman Ali shakes hands with Kouame Kouadio as Park Yong-Woo embraces Khalid Eisa of Al Ain as they celebrate

Away from South America, the 12 European and four African slots have already been claimed while the fourth and final Asian place will go to the winners of the AFC Champions League between Yokohama F. Marinos (JPN) and Al Ain FC (UAE) with the first leg in Japan on 11 May and the return in the United Arab Emirates on 25 May. The last remaining of the four Concacaf places will similarly go to the winners of this year’s Concacaf Champions Cup, with the single-leg final between CF Pachuca (MEX) and Columbus Crew (USA) on 1 June. Oceania’s representative at next year’s tournament will be Auckland City FC (NZL), a club that has performed consistently well in the OFC Champions League throughout the qualification cycle. The final place in the tournament will go to a club from the host nation.

Mundial de Clubes FIFA 25™