Skip to main content


Barcelona's Champions League exit sends Atletico Madrid to 2025 Club World Cup in the United States

Barcelona Marc-Andre ter Stegen Marc-Andre ter Stegen - The Canadian Press

ZURICH (AP) — Barcelona’s exit from the Champions League on Tuesday sent Atletico Madrid to the inaugural 32-team Club World Cup in the United States next year.

Europe will have 12 teams at the lucrative monthlong tournament — title winners of the Champions League in the four seasons through this one plus high-ranked teams based on overall results in the competition in this period.

Barcelona began play Tuesday trailing Atletico in the rankings to take the second Club World Cup entry from Spain and lost 4-1 to Paris Saint-Germain in the home leg of their quarterfinals. Barcelona was eliminated 6-4 on aggregate score.

Atletico also was eliminated from the Champions League losing 4-2 at Borussia Dortmund, and 5-4 on aggregate, but its Club World Cup place is secure.

Atletico is the 22nd team to qualify for the inaugural 32-team edition of the Club World Cup that will be played in cities across the U.S. from June 15-July 13 next year. The expanded format will be played every four years instead of annually.

FIFA expects to pay tens of millions of dollars in prize money to each team at a tournament that will be without European powers like Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool and AC Milan. Also missing will be Lionel Messi’s current club Inter Miami and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr.

In the lineup from Europe are the past three Champions League winners — Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester City — plus high-ranked Bayern Munich, PSG, Inter Milan, Porto, Dortmund, Benfica, Juventus and now Atletico.

The last European entry will be either Arsenal, if it wins this Champions League edition, or Salzburg.

The Austrian champion could get in despite being ranked below the likes of Liverpool, Barcelona and Milan because countries are limited by FIFA to two entries unless they have more than two continental champions.

Three Brazilian teams — Flamengo, Palmeiras and Fluminense — have qualified as Copa Libertadores winners since 2021. Argentina’s storied rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors are likely to qualify as high-ranked teams in South America’s quota of six entries.

Seattle Sounders and Mexican teams Leon and Monterrey will be joined by another team from the CONCACAF region. The Champions Cup final is on June 2. Another U.S. team should qualify as part of a Club World Cup tradition to include the host nation’s champion.

In Asia, Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia and Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan are in. Al Ahly of Egypt and Wydad Casablanca of Morocco have qualified from Africa and Auckland City of New Zealand will represent Oceania.

The last of the continental finals in 2024 is South America’s Copa Libertadores on Nov. 30.


More AP soccer: