Palmeiras' extra-time victory in the Copa Libertadores final on Saturday means we now know the full seven-team lineup for next year’s Fifa Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.
The tournament, taking place in the capital for the fifth time, brings together the champions of the six continental confederations and the host nation’s most recent league winners.
The postponed 2021 edition will be held from February 3-12. The tournament was originally to take place in Japan next month, but the Japan Football Association withdrew in September citing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
The UAE has previously hosted the Club World Cup in 2009, 2010, 2017 and 2018. Three Arab teams will take part in the upcoming tournament: host representatives Al Jazira, Hilal and Egypt’s Al Ahly. The draw will be held on November 29.
Al Jazira – the Abu Dhabi club will contest a second Club World Cup as reigning domestic champions after they won the 2020/21 Adnoc Pro League in May to book their spot. In their only other Club World Cup appearance, in 2017, Jazira pushed Real Madrid all the way in the semi-final before goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale turned around the tie to give the tournament's eventual winners a 2-1 win.
Chelsea – the in-form English side will represent Europe in the tournament following their 1-0 victory against compatriots Manchester City in the Uefa Champions League final in May. Chelsea have once before competed in the Club World Cup, in 2012, where they were beaten 1-0 in the final in Japan by Brazil’s Corinthians. Thomas Tuchel’s team currently sit top of both the Premier League and their Champions League group.
Al Hilal – Saudi Arabia’s lead club were the latest side to confirm their place at the Club World Cup when they triumphed on Tuesday against South Korea’s Pohang Steelers in the Asian Champions League. The 2-0 win in Riyadh gave Hilal a record fourth Asian crown, and a second in the past three years. The capital side have one appearance to date in the Club World Cup, eventually losing 3-1 in the 2019 semi-final to Brazil’s Flamengo.
Monterrey – a 1-0 victory against fellow Mexicans America in last month’s Concacaf Champions League final was enough to seal the Liga MX side a fifth qualification for the Club World Cup. Monterrey’s other appearances came in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2019, with their best finish being third place on their second attempt and again last time out. Two years ago, they defeated Hilal on penalties in Doha to take bronze.
Al Ahly – the hugely decorated Egyptian club will make their seventh appearance in the Club World Cup by dint of a 3-0 victory in July against South Africa’s Kaizer Chiefs in the African Champions League final. It was the defending champions’ record-extending 10th African crown. Having first participated in the Club World Cup in 2005, Ahly’s best performances were third in 2006 and again last year, with the latter a win on penalties against Brazil’s Palmeiras.
Auckland City – the New Zealanders will take part in a record-extending 10th Club World Cup having been nominated by the Oceania Football Confederation following the cancellation of the OFC Champions League amid the Covid-19 pandemic. After debuting in 2006 and playing again in 2009, Auckland contested seven successive Club World Cups from 2011-2017. Their best result was in 2014, when they took bronze in Morocco. This will be their third appearance in Abu Dhabi.
Palmeiras – Deyverson scored an extra-time winner as reigning champions Palmeiras retained the Copa Libertadores on Saturday with a 2-1 victory over Flamengo in an all-Brazilian final in Montevideo. Palmeiras became the seventh and final team to book their place in Abu Dhabi after Andreas Pereira committed a horrible mistake in the 95th minute to allow Deyverson to run through and earn Palmeiras the biggest club title in South American football for the second year in a row, and third time overall. It is the Brazilian side's second appearance at the Club World Cup after their fourth-place finish in Qatar in 2020.
Al Jazira and Auckland City face one another in the first round in Abu Dhabi, with the winner then joining Al Hilal, Al Ahly and Monterrey in the next stage. Chelsea and either Palmeiras or Flamengo enter at the semi-final mark.