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SPORTS | 15-05-2024 15:57

River Plate secure qualification for 2025 Club World Cup

Qualification for Copa Libertadores last 16 secures place at 2025 tournament in United States and a US$40-million windfall; River’s former manager Marcelo Gallardo sacked by Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad – is he off to Italy?

River Plate have secured qualification for the 2025 Club World Cup after defeating Club Libertad of Paraguay at the Monumental on Tuesday.

The 2-0 win, which ensured River’s plate in the last 16 of the Copa Libertadores, means that the club’s CONMEBOL ranking cannot be surpassed. As a result, the Buenos Aires-based side will take on some of the game’s biggest and most storied sides in the Club World Cup next year, which will be hosted by the United States between June 15 and July 13, 2025.

The win is a massive boost for the Millionario, who will bank between US$40 million and US$50 million just by competing in the tournament, which has been overhauled by world football governing body FIFA.

The winners can expect to take home around US$100 million.

The restructuring of the tournament means that 32 teams will not compete for the global club crown. CONMEBOL, South America’s governing body, has been awarded six places for the tournament, with three spots guaranteed for the most recent winners of the Copa Libertadores: Palmeiras (2021), Flamengo (2022) and Fluminense (2023).

The fourth slot will go to the winner of this year's edition, while the remaining two will be determined by CONMEBOL's general ranking, which establishes three points for a win, one for a draw and three for advancing to each stage of the competition in continental tournaments from 2021 to 2024 inclusive.

River’s current score means it has guaranteed a spot at the 2025 Club World Cup, though Argentina could still secure another space. 

Boca Juniors, River’s arch-rivals, are in the running, though much depends on the performance of other teams across the continent, given they are competing this year in the Copa Sudamericana, the second-tier tournament. 

River, however, could still help out their age-old enemy. If the Núñez side win this year’s Libertadores crown, a slot would be freed up, potentially paving the way for Boca.

Among the sides River could face at the Club World Cup are giants like Manchester City, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, Inter Milan, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Paris St Germain. Porto, Benfica and RB Salzburg have also qualified from Europe. 
Mexico’s Monterrey and Club Leon, US side Seattle Sounders, Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal and Japan’s Urawa Reds have also secured a space, along with Ulsan (South Korea), Al Ahly (Egypt), Wydad Casablanca (Morocco), Espérance Sportive de Tunis (Tunisia), Mamelodi Sundowns FC (South Africa) and Auckland City (Australia).

The remaining five slots will be divided between three confederations and the host country. They will include the winners of the Copa Libertadores 2024, CONCACAF Champions Cup winner 2024, the AFC Champions League Champions 2024 and an as-yet-undecided team from the United States.

 

Gallardo sacked by Al-Ittihad

While things are looking rosy for River, the most successful manager in the club’s history has suffered a setback.

Marcelo Gallardo was sacked by Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad last week, though he may not be unemployed for long.

 According to reports in Italian media outlets, the ex-River coach has made it onto the shortlist of Serie A giants AC Milan. The Rossoneri fired Stefano Pioli as coach earlier this month and their search for a new boss is progressing, with the club’s authorities now seeking a meeting with Gallardo.

Milan initially looked at ex-Real Madrid and Spain coach Julen Lopetegui but the resistance of fans to the move forced the club to look elsewhere. 

As well as Gallardo, top coaches including Antonio Conte, Roberto De Zerbi, Thiago Motta and Paulo Fonseca are said to be in the running.

 

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James Grainger

James Grainger

Editor-in-Chief, Buenos Aires Times.

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