Real Madrid are headed to the FIFA Club World Cup. Here are the important details:
When and Where?
The 2022 FIFA Club World Cup will take place from February 1-11, 2023 in Morocco.
This is the 19th edition of the FIFA Club World Cup and despite being annually held in December, this year had to be held later due to the 2022 FIFA World Cup being held in November and December of 2022.
Real Madrid (UEFA, Spain)
Flamengo (CONMEBOL, Brazil)
Al-Hilal (AFC, Saudi Arabia)
Wydad Casablanca (CAF, Morocco)
Seattle Sounders FC (CONCACAF, United States)
Auckland City (OFC, Australia)
Al Ahly (CAF, Egypt)
There will be a first round, second round, semi-finals, third place match, and final. Two teams (Real Madrid, Flamengo) have already automatically qualifed straight to the semi-final spots. Al-Hilal, Wydad Casablanca, and Seattle Sounders FC have qualified for the second round. Auckland City and Al Ahly will play their games in the first round. Spots in rounds are determined by confederation ranking, and a draw was held to determine the matchups. Matches will be played in Rabat and Tangier.
Teams that qualified were continental confederation winners. As the 2022 AFC Champions League is not completed yet, Al-Hilal was chosen as the AFC representative because of their status as the reigning champions. The host nation’s domestic champion qualifies for a spot. However, as Wydad Casablanca are winners of the CAF Champions League and the Moroccan domestic league, Al Ahly qualified as runners-up of the CAF Champions League.
Real Madrid has won four Club World Cup’s with its last triumph coming in 2018. Real Madrid has won the tournament in 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018, making them the most successful club in the competition.
Chelsea are the current defending champions.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the competition’s all-time leading goal scorer with seven goals, while Gareth Bale is the second all-time leading goal scorer with six goals. Toni Kroos has won the Club World Cup a record five times.
Players to Watch
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Despite all the amazing quality players that could be chosen for Real Madrid, the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner has to be the one to watch. Not yet hitting the incredible standards of last season, Benzema has been gaining form and getting back into the goals he loves scoring. He could play a key role in Real Madrid winning a record fifth Club World Cup.
Being on the radar of a number of Premier League clubs, Pedro is looking to be one of the top threats in the Flamengo attack. He is Copa Libertadores’ top scorer with 12 goals and Brazilian Seria A’s top scorer for Flamengo along with Gabriel Barbosa with 11 goals. Pedro has had a breakthrough season and is looking to impress on the big stage in front of the European scouts.
Salem Al-Dawsari (Al-Hilal)
Remember the guy who scored the winning goal for Saudi Arabia vs Argentina? That was Salem Al-Dawsari. He showcased his talent in the FIFA World Cup and will be looking to add on to the momentum in the FIFA Club World Cup with the reigning AFC champions looking to pull an upset.
Stefan Frei (Seattle Sounders FC)
Awarded the golden ball for being the best player of the CONCACAF Champions League, Stefan Frei put in a string of impressive performances and saves to help the Seattle Sounders win its first continental trophy in history. In the semi-finals, he recorded seven saves — several of them point blank. He kept four clean sheets in eight games en route to becoming champion along with being the best player and best goalkeeper. If Seattle wants any chance of winning the tournament, they will have to hope Frei is in peak form.
The Fans (Wydad Casablanca)
The twelfth man. We all saw the astonishing and exquisite passion shown by the Moroccan fans in the World Cup in Qatar. Despite the deserving and impressive collective performances of Morocco at the FIFA World Cup, it is safe to say that it might not have been possible without their dedicated fans. Expect no difference from the Wydad Casablanca Moroccan fans as this tournament will be held in their home nation and Wydad is the one of the most popular and historic teams in Morocco.
Champion: Real Madrid
Third Place: Wydad Casablanca
Fourth Place: Al Ahly
Despite Real Madrid struggling this past month, I think they have too much quality to slip in this tournament. This will be a perfect opportunity for Real Madrid to bounce back and show that they are back in form before the return of the Champions League. In my opinion, Flamengo has the greatest chance of producing an upset and can capitalize on Real Madrid’s poor recent form. Flamengo has a lot of talent and potential and can be a potentially tough match-up in the final. With all the depth and quality, I am still backing Real Madrid.