FIFA president Gianni Infantino has ambitious
plans to expand the tournament from 2021 onwards, staging it
every four years rather than annually and increasing the number
of teams from seven to 24.
Those plans have yet to be approved by the FIFA Council and in
the meantime, it is uncertain if the tournament -- which this
year will be staged in the United Arab Emirates in December --
will continue its current form in 2019 and 2020.
Only four of this year's participants were known on Tuesday with
the Asian, African and South American club championships all at
the quarter-final stage.
Real, winners for the last two years, and the eventual South
American champions received byes to the last four.
Oceania champions Team Wellington will meet Al Ain, champions of
the host nation, in a preliminary match for the right to play
the African champions in the second round.
The winners of that game will face South America's Libertadores
Guadalajara, the champions of CONCACAF, were drawn against the
Asian champions in the other of the two second-round ties with a
match against Real Madrid as the prize.
The competition has been dominated by European teams since it
was re-launched in its current form in 2005, reflecting the fact
the best South American and African players are based in Europe
rather than their own continents.
Although it is often felt that European sides regard the cup as
little more than an exotic mid-season diversion, it creates huge
interest in South America where fans long for the chance for
their team to appear on the world stage.
Real Madrid director Emilio Butragueno dismissed any suggestion
it would be a walkover for his team.
"It's never win easy to win any tournament, that's the truth,"
he told Reuters.
"Obviously, we have every confidence in our players but last
year, the final was very even and the semi-finals were very
difficult," he said, remembering a 2-1 win over Al-Jazira in the
semi-final and 1-0 win over Gremio in the final.
"Our opponents are always very highly motivated. They are young
players who see this tournament as a chance to get themselves
known around the world."
Former Argentina midfielder Esteban Cambiasso, who took part in
the draw, said that South America could benefit after moving the
Libertadores final from June to November.
"It means it will be the same team which won the Libertadores,"
he told Reuters. "In the past, with a longer gap, and with a
transfer window in the middle, players left and the team which
played in the Club World Cup was not the same one which won the
"Now this has changed and, for the South Americans, this is
(Reporting by Brian Homewood, Editing by Nick Mulvenney and Ed
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