RABAT, Jan 13 ― Real Madrid could face MLS side Seattle Sounders in the Club World Cup semi-finals next month after Friday’s draw for the tournament in Morocco.
Seattle booked their Club World Cup ticket by becoming the first MLS side for 23 years to lift the Concacaf Champions League title for teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
But to face European champions Real, Seattle must first overcome the winner of the first round tie between Al-Ahly of Egypt and New Zealanders Auckland City.
The second semi-final will pit Brazil’s Flamengo against the winner of the second-round clash between home hopes and African champions Wydad Casablanca and Saudi side Al-Hilal.
Al-Hilal’s line-up features Salem Al-Dawsari, who scored for Saudi Arabia in the 2-1 win against eventual champions Argentina in the group stage of last month’s World Cup in Qatar.
Fifa’s annual competition involving the champions of each continent kicks off on February 1 in Morocco.
Real, winners in 2014-2016 and 2018, are hot favourites to succeed last year’s winners Chelsea.
European teams have taken the spoils each year since 2012 when Corinthians of Brazil toppled Chelsea.
Morocco hosted the tournament in 2013 and again in 2014, while last year’s edition was held in the United Arab Emirates.
Last month Fifa chief Gianni Infantino announced plans to expand the event to 32 teams from 2025, despite reported opposition from Europe’s biggest clubs.
An expansion of the competition has long been a pet project of Infantino’s. A 24-team event, featuring eight sides from Europe, was planned for 2021 in China but was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The plans are for an expanded tournament to be held every four years instead of annually, as is the case for the current seven-team event. ― AFP