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Atletico Madrid Clinch Club World Cup Berth Amidst Barcelona’s Champions League Exit

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Barcelona’s exit from the Champions League on Tuesday not only marked the end of their European campaign but also paved the way for Atletico Madrid to secure a spot in the inaugural 32-team Club World Cup in the United States next year.

Europe will be represented by 12 teams in the lucrative monthlong tournament, comprising the title winners of the Champions League from the past four seasons and high-ranked teams based on their overall performance in the competition during this period.

Atletico Madrid’s qualification for the Club World Cup was confirmed despite their own elimination from the Champions League, having lost 4-2 to Borussia Dortmund. Their place in the prestigious tournament was secured by Barcelona’s defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the quarterfinals, with the Catalan side succumbing to a 6-4 aggregate loss.

The expanded format of the Club World Cup, to be held every four years instead of annually, will feature teams from across the globe competing in cities across the United States from June 15 to July 13 next year. FIFA anticipates substantial prize money for each participating team, although traditional European powerhouses like Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool, and AC Milan will be absent from the lineup.

Among the European representatives are the recent Champions League winners Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Manchester City, along with high-ranked clubs such as Bayern Munich, PSG, Inter Milan, Porto, Dortmund, Benfica, Juventus, and now Atletico Madrid. The final European entry will be determined by the outcome of this year’s Champions League, with Arsenal or Salzburg vying for the spot.

Despite being ranked below certain clubs, Salzburg could secure a place due to FIFA’s restriction of two entries per country unless they have multiple continental champions. The tournament will also feature top teams from other regions, including three Brazilian sides, two Argentine rivals, representatives from Asia, Africa, and Oceania, as well as teams from the Concacaf region.

Seattle Sounders and Mexican teams Leon and Monterrey will participate, with another U.S. team expected to qualify as the host nation’s champion. Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia, Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds, Al Ahly of Egypt, Wydad Casablanca of Morocco, and Auckland City of New Zealand complete the diverse lineup.

The anticipation for the Club World Cup is palpable, with the culmination of continental competitions set to determine the final participants. As the football world eagerly awaits the tournament, Atletico Madrid’s inclusion serves as a reminder of the global appeal and competitive nature of the sport on the international stage.