The FIFA Club World Cup 2023 kicks off on Tuesday as Saudi Pro League heavyweights Al-Ittihad take on Auckland City in a curtain-raising fixture.
Saudi Arabia will use the occasion as a dress rehearsal ahead of the 2034 World Cup after winning the bid to host the most prestigious international tournament a decade from now.
It will be the last edition with the tournament’s current format, featuring seven teams, including winners of each confederation and the host country’s representative.
From 2025 onwards, the competition will expand to 32 clubs and transition to a quadrennial schedule, departing from the previous annual format, as has been the case since 2005 until now.
Meet The Teams
Manchester City’s maiden Club World Cup comes on the back of a historic treble-winning 2022/23 campaign as the Cityzens vie for the only missing piece of silverware to bolster their burgeoning trophy cabinet.
If the tournament’s history taught us something, City’s triumph should be a mere formality, with the UEFA Champions League winners also emerging as Club World Cup winners in 16 of the previous 17 editions.
The team’s eye-watering €1.26 billion valuation underscores their tag as odds-on favourites to lift the trophy.
Perhaps the only ominous sign for Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side is that the only exception to this rule saw their Premier League rivals, Chelsea, suffer a 1-0 defeat to Corinthians in 2012.
Invited to join via a ‘wild card’ to promote Saudi Arabia, Al-Ittihad brace themselves for their second Club World Cup appearance after finishing fourth in their only previous foray into the tournament in 2005.
The reigning Saudi Pro League holders enjoyed a transformative summer.
Funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), the Tigers shaped a new era in modern football in the summer, luring European stars such as Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante and Fabinho to the Middle East.
Head coach Marcelo Gallardo is no stranger to the tournament. During his trophy-laden spell at River Plate, the 47-year-old twice appeared at the Club World Cup as the Copa Libertadores winner.
Fluminense maintained Brazilian dominance in the Copa Libertadores in November, dispatching fierce Argentine adversaries Boca Juniors in the grand final via penalties.
Brazil caretaker manager Fernando Diniz couldn’t have picked a better place to lead the Tricolor to their first-ever continental triumph, with the showpiece event occurring at the famous Maracana Stadium.
Ex-European stars Marcelo and Felipe Melo were part of the Fluminense squad that made history last month and will be out to maintain their legacy in the desert.
As the fourth Mexican team to book their place at the Club World Cup, Club Leon earned promotion with a 3-1 win over Major League Soccer franchise LAFC in June’s 2023 CONCACAF Champions League final.
The Green Bellies’ tournament life commences against Urawa Red Diamonds at the Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Sports City on December 15, with the winner of this tie taking on Man City in the semi-finals.
Urawa Red Diamonds
Urawa’s third participation in the Club World Cup comes in familiar territory as they ran out 2-1 aggregate winners in May’s AFC Champions League final against Saudi Pro League side Al-Hilal.
Since the team’s market value of €19 million betters only Auckland’s tournament low of €5m, expectations are not high around the Japanese camp.
Despite boasting a wealth of experience at the Club World Cup, having appeared in the tournament more frequently than any other contestant, Auckland are the outsiders in the betting.
The New Zealanders get their 11th competition appearance underway at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah against heavily favoured Al-Ittihad.
A dramatic 3-2 aggregate victory over old foes Wydad Casablanca in the 2022/23 CAF Champions League final earned Al-Ahly a ninth chance to cover themselves in Club World Cup glory.
Although none of their players have made a notable impact in European football, the Egyptian team collectively maintains a respectable market value of €30m.
FIFA Club World Cup 2023 Fixtures/Schedule
- Al-Ittihad vs Auckland City – Tuesday, December 12 – 6.00 pm – live on TNT Sports 3 and Discovery+
- Leon vs Urawa Red Diamonds – Friday, December 15 – 2.30 pm – live on TNT Sports 1 and Discovery+
- Al Ahly vs Winner Match 1 – Friday, December 15 – 6.00 pm – live on Discovery+
- Fluminense vs Al-Ahly/Al-Ittihad/Auckland City – Monday, December 18 – 6.00 pm – live on TNT Sports and Discovery+
- Leon/Urawa Red Diamonds vs Manchester City – Tuesday, December 19 – 6.00 pm – live on TNT Sports and Discovery+
Third place play-off
- Friday, December 22 – 2.30 pm – live on TNT Sports and Discovery+
- Friday, December 22 – 6.00 pm – live on TNT Sports and Discovery+
(All times GMT).
How To Watch
All FIFA Club World Cup games are available to watch on TNT Sports and Discovery+ – see our live football streaming page for how to watch any football match live online.
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