The road to glory in Qatar
Line-up taking shape for FIFA Club World Cup
Debutants set to kick us off in Qatar
New champions guaranteed to be crowned in December
The field is taking shape and, before you know it, December will be upon us with the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019 ready for action.
While the journey to the Gulf state began for the likes of Liverpool almost exactly a year ago, with a 3-2 win over Paris Saint-Germain back in September 2018, it wasn’t until April of this year that the line-up truly started to take shape.
We take a look back at how we got here, and where we still have to go, on the road to seeing the latest name etched into the history of the Club World Cup.
4 April: Al Sadd clinch Qatari title
Having secured a 2-2 draw with fellow title-chasers Al Duhail the weekend before, Al Sadd sewed up the Qatar Stars League title in style as Baghdad Bounedjah’s hat-trick helped them to a 7-2 victory over Al Ahli.
It wasn’t until they ended Al Duhail’s journey in the AFC Champions League four months later – ensuring they were the sole Qatar side still in the running – that their ticket as national champions was officially stamped, though.
1 May: Monterrey book fourth ticket
Having emphatically seen off Sporting Kansas City in the Concacaf Champions League semi-finals, Monterrey locked horns with Tigres UANL in an all-Mexican, two-legged final to secure their seat. Nicolas Sanchez ultimately proved the hero, striking in either leg to secure an aggregate 2-1 victory to see Monterrey equal Pachuca’s record of four Club World Cup visits.
11 May: Hienghene seal historic berth
Never before had an OFC Champions League not featured a New Zealand side. But, after Auckland City and Team Wellington tumbled out in the semis, it was left to New Caledonian duo of Magenta and Hienghene Sport to battle for the title. Hienghene clinched a slender 1-0 win to became the first OFC participant at the Club World Cup not from New Zealand since Hekari United in 2010.
31 May: CAF Champions League final
The two-legged CAF Champions League final saw Wydad Casablanca and Esperance de Tunis meet in a re-run of the 2011 climax. After a 1-1 draw in the first leg, the second was abandoned with Esperance leading 1-0, with Esperance being awarded the win.
1 June: Liverpool back after 14-year wait
Having been beaten 3-0 by Barcelona in the Camp Nou, Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League hopes looked all but dashed as they returned to Anfield for the semi-final second leg. However, an unbelievable 4-0 win propelled them to Madrid to face fellow English side Tottenham Hotspur. Once at the Wanda Metropolitano, Mohammed Salah and Divock Origi struck at either end of the game to hand them a sixth European title.
16 September: The path to glory takes shape
All eyes were on Zurich when the world title-chasing hopefuls discovered their routes to glory, with the draw presenting us with an intriguing Africa meets Asia in the quarter-finals.
23 November: South America’s champions set to be crowned
The climax of the Copa Libertadores is set to be a unique one in its history, being the first to be contested over a single game. Set for Santiago, Chile, it’s almost certainly set to be a fierce affair, with a guaranteed meeting between Argentinian and Brazilian heavyweights on the cards.
24 November: Asia complete the septet
The following day we’ll see the line-up completed, as the AFC Asian Champions League winners are crowned in the second-leg of the east versus west final.
11 December: Let the action commence
The FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019 will kick off in intriguing fashion with debutants Hienghene Sport taking on national champions Al Sadd, unless the side led by two-time club World Cup winner Xavi see themselves crowned continental champions. In that scenario, Asia’s runners up will face the New Caledonians.
21 December: A champion is crowned
Having not seen it since 2014, we are guaranteed a new winner lifting the title this year. After Real Madrid clinched the last three, fresh hands will be raising the trophy aloft for the first time since Los Blancos saw off San Lorenzo in Morocco.