Austrian team Salzburg heading to the Club World Cup after Arsenal eliminated from Champions League

MUNICH (AP) — Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid — and Salzburg.

The Austrian team is going to next year’s Club World Cup in the United States. Salzburg secured the last of 12 spots for European clubs thanks to Bayern Munich completing a 3-2 aggregate win over Arsenal in the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Arsenal could have qualified for the revamped tournament, to be held every four years, only if it won this season’s Champions League. Teams can qualify for Club World Cup spots either by having won the Champions League since 2021 or via a ranking system of their Champions League performances over four seasons.

Salzburg profited from a rule that only two teams per country can qualify unless a country had three different Champions League winners in the last four years. It meant that Arsenal needed to win this year’s competition to join 2021 winner Chelsea and last year’s winner City, the other two qualified English clubs. Among other European teams which miss out are Liverpool, Manchester United, Barcelona and Milan. Also missing will be Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr.

Steady but unspectacular results were enough for Salzburg. It qualified for the Champions League group stage in each of the last four seasons but only reached the round of 16 once, losing 8-2 on aggregate to Bayern Munich in 2022. In total, Salzburg played 26 Champions League games over the last four seasons, winning only six of them.

“It’s wonderful that our Salzburg Way has led us all the way to the FIFA Club World Cup and that we will get the chance in summer 2025 to compete with the best club teams in the world from recent years,” Salzburg general manager Stephan Reiter said. “We don’t know any of the details of the tournament, but we know already that it will be a huge challenge.”

UEFA’s own ranking system for European competitions — different from the FIFA system used for the Club World Cup — lists Salzburg as the 40th-strongest team in Europe, between Croatian team Dinamo Zagreb and Dutch club AZ Alkmaar.

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

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.


AP soccer:

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