In Brief

2018 Fifa Club World Cup: Real Madrid aim for global domination

The Spanish giants will defend their Club World Cup title in the UAE in December

They’ve conquered Europe a record 13 times and in December Real Madrid will look to rule the world for a fourth occasion.

Following their victory in the Uefa Champions League final against Liverpool last month, Real have qualified for this year’s Fifa Club World Cup being held in United Arab Emirates.

The victory over Liverpool in Kiev was Zinedine Zidane’s swansong as Real boss. After leading Los Blancos to a third successive European title the Frenchman parted company with the Spanish giants.

Zidane’s replacement has yet to be announced, but according to reports former player Guti and Chelsea’s Antonio Conte are the two favourites to take over the Bernabeu hot-seat.

Whether it’s Guti, Conte or someone else, Real Madrid’s next manager will have the Club World Cup in their sights. That’s the view of Ahmad Al Qubaisi, spokesperson for the Fifa Club World Cup local organising committee in the UAE.

He believes Real’s next boss will look at the Club World Cup as a perfect opportunity of securing silverware early in their tenure. Speaking in London Al Qubaisi said: “The new coach of Real Madrid will be so lucky, especially having a team that has won three Champions Leagues in a row in Europe. Plus the chance to win the Club World Cup this year.”

Three-time winners Real beat Brazilian side Gremio in last year’s Club World Cup final. This year the Spaniards will feature in the tournament, which runs from 12 to 22 December, alongside host team Al Ain, Concacaf champions CD Guadalajara and Oceania champions Team Wellington. The other three clubs - the Champions League winners from the Conmebol, Asia and African confederations - will be decided later this year.

Fifa plans Club World Cup revamp

Currently the Club World Cup is a seven-team tournament featuring the regional champions from Fifa’s six confederations plus the host team. However, in the future the competition could look very different if Fifa gets its way.

In April The Guardian reported that world football’s governing body is planning to revamp the competition and increase the number of teams to 24. Then last month The Times reported that Fifa president Gianni Infantino had delayed a vote on the proposals until after the World Cup concludes in Russia. 

After hosting the Club World Cup in 2009, 2010, 2017 and again in 2018, would the UAE bid for the bigger, revamped competition if the changes are agreed by Fifa and its confederations?

Al Qubaisi, who also works with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “If we count in this segment [Fifa tournaments] the UAE has been lucky to host five Fifa tournaments in the past ten years. We had this tournament [the Club World Cup] in 2009, 2010, last year and this year, and also hosted the 2013 Fifa Under-17 World Cup. We are planning to get the big events to the UAE - especially the big fan-based tournaments.

“In January 2019 the UAE is hosting the Asian Cup, which has 24 [national] teams. Games will be held in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Sharjah and Dubai. Sharjah has one stadium [hosting matches], Dubai has two stadiums, Al Ain has two and Abu Dhabi will have three stadiums for the Asian Cup.

“The UAE is ready for any tournament.”

Fifa Club World Cup UAE 2018

What is the Fifa Club World Cup?

Organised by Fifa, the annual Club World Cup features one host team and the regional champions from the football governing body’s six confederations - Uefa (Europe); Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf); Oceania Football Confederation (OFC); South American Football Confederation (Conmebol); Asian Football Confederation (AFC); and Confederation of African Football (CAF).

When does it take place this year?

The 2018 Fifa Club World Cup will be held from 12 to 22 December. 

Who is the host nation?

The United Arab Emirates will host the tournament for the second year in a row. 

Where will matches be played?

Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi and the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain will host the matches. Eight matches in total will be played and Zayed Sports City will host the final.

Which teams will play this year?
  • Host team: Al Ain FC (UAE title winners) 
  • CD Guadalajara (Mexico; Concacaf Champions League winners) 
  • Team Wellington FC (New Zealand; OFC Champions League winners) 
  • Real Madrid (Spain; Uefa Champions League winners) 
  • Conmebol Copa Libertadores winners to be decided in November 
  • AFC Champions League winners to be decided in November 
  • CAF Champions League winners to be decided in November

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