MX23RW : Monday, February 18 13:23:32

The Club World Cup hangs in doubt

FIFA's showpiece global tournament the Club World Cup starts in less than a week and is still without a team from one of the biggest footballing continents in the world.

Boca Juniors fans fill the entire stadium for a training session ahead of the Copa Libertadores final against River Plate© Reuters
FIFA's showpiece global tournament the Club World Cup starts in less than a week and is still without a team from one of the biggest footballing continents in the world - South America. The Copa Libertadores, South America's equivalent of the Champions League is yet to be decided after the second leg of the tie was called off just under two weeks ago.

It was due to be played on November 24 between bitter rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate, both hailing from Buenos Aires. The game was marred by hooligan violence which saw the Boca Juniors bus bombarded with missiles on the way to the game, leading to the injury of a number of Boca players.

Immediately rescheduled to take place the day after to the extent that thousands of fans were allowed entry to River's El Monumental stadium, it was eventually called off at the last minute. South America's football governing body CONMEBOL scheduled a meeting to decide when and where the game would be played.

Suggestions were thrown around, with the likes of Paraguay's capital Asuncion being named as a potential host and also Miami. The choice was hastily finalised last week, with Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu decided as the destination for the final tie.

CONMEBOL has cited a number of reasons as to why the game will be played in Madrid. The decision has sparked widespread outcry and heated debate among football fans and officials alike. Regardless of what your opinion is, the final will take place on Sunday, December 9 at 7.30pm UK time. Madrid will provide a safe and encouraging atmosphere to determine who will become the outright champions of South America.

The Iberian peninsula is also the perfect pit stop for the eventual victor as they make their way to the UAE. The Emirates will host this year's Club World Cup which kicks off only three days after the Copa Libertadores final is due to take place.

The lack of a South American competitor has sent the bookies into disarray. Although regardless of the outcome the European Champions League winners Real Madrid are likely to be considered favourites, with both Boca or River going down as second in line. To compare the best football betting sites ahead of the Club World Cup, BookiesBonuses.com is without a doubt your best bet.

It's no surprise that the Argentinian sides are considered second favourites to become world champions, as European football is generally thought to be stronger than its South American counterpart. European sides have won 10 of the last 14 iterations of the Club World Cup, since the competition's inauguration at the dawn of the new millennium.

In fact an Argentine team has never won world football's highest honour, with Brazilian sides laying claim to all four victories, although both Boca and River have contested a final apiece. River most recently went down to Barcelona 3-0 in 2015, while Boca were beaten by Milan 4-2 back in 2007.

The remaining competitors have all since been decided over the previous months. Nevertheless, it wouldn't be a true representation of world football if there wasn't a team present from every continent of world football.

CONCACAF Champions League winners, Mexican outfit CD Guadalajara were the first team to book their place in the finals. They overcame three successive MLS sides to become champions of North America back in April, having seen off Toronto FC in a two-legged tie.

The competition's minnows, New Zealanders Team Wellington qualified not long after back in May. Wellington overcame bitter rivals, Auckland City to end the latter's seven year stranglehold on the Oceania Champions League. It was especially sweet as Auckland had thwarted them in the final of the competition no less than three times previously.

More recently this autumn both Asia and Africa determined their representatives to the Club World Cup. Japanese side Kashima Antlers defeated Iran's Persepolis over two legs to book their spot. It will be Kashima's second appearance in the competition, having participated as hosts in 2016 where they managed to make it to the final, taking Real Madrid to extra time in the process.

Similarly this November CAF Champions League winners, Tunisian side Esperance Tunis overcame their Egyptian rivals Al Ahly in a stunning comeback. The Tunisians came from 3-1 down to win on 3-0 on home soil in Tunis to become champions of the African continent.

The final side to make up the numbers is local Emirates outfit Abu Dhabi's Al Ain, who will face off in the first round of the competition on December 12. Whoever South America end up sending, whether it's Boca or River, it promises to be an action-packed and intense competition. For all your Club World Cup and football betting tips, betting previews and up to date info throughout the football season make sure to visit BetBlazers.com.


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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City27212474205465
2Liverpool26205159154465
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs26200654252960
4Manchester UnitedMan Utd26156552351751
5Arsenal26155653371650
6Chelsea26155645291650
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2611693433139
8Watford2610793434037
9Everton2796123639-333
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham2696113239-733
11Bournemouth26103133747-1033
12Leicester CityLeicester2695123134-332
13Crystal Palace2676132734-727
14Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2676132839-1127
15Burnley2676132947-1827
16Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2667132234-1225
17Cardiff CityCardiff2674152447-2325
18Southampton2659122844-1624
19Fulham2645172558-3317
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2625191448-3411

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