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FIFA Club World Cup 2025: Top teams not in the competition

The FIFA Club World Cup 2025 expands to 32 teams, but some big names miss out. Find out which European giants like Liverpool, Manchester United, and Barcelona won't be there, and how the slots are allocated for the new-look tournament.

Moinak Banerjee
Last updated: 28.04.2024
FIFA Club World Cup 2025: Top teams not in the competition

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The FIFA Club World Cup 2025 promises to be a club competition like no other with prominent teams around the globe set to take part. The tournament has adopted a new and expanded format with a group and knockout involving 32 clubs. The winners of the four previous continental championships of each federation and other best-ranked sides according to their coefficient will compete at the Club World Cup which will take place every four years. The USA will host the newest edition of the competition from June 15 to July 13, 2025. 

The clubs are selected based on their performance in their continental competition from 2021 to 2024. UEFA was awarded the most slots with 12, CONMEBOL with six while OFC received just one slot. AFC, CAF and CONCACAF got four slots each. The 32 teams qualified for the tournament will be divided into 8 groups of 4 teams with the top two sides from each group qualifying to the knockout stage. 


Although the slot allocation system opens up opportunities for many highly valued clubs to participate in the tournament, there is a limit on the number of teams allowed from each country's association. This means that some star teams might not be able to make the cut due to the restriction of only two teams per association. However, if there is an additional continental winner from the same region, then the country cap gets lifted. 

Here are some of those teams that will not be part of the 32-team FIFA Club World Cup 2025 group stage: 


Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester City and the 2023/24 Champions League winners will take part in the Club World Cup as the UEFA competition winners. Joining them are Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Milan, Porto, Benfica, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Atlético Madrid and RB Salzburg. Many miss out due to winning the Champions League in the four-year-cycle, inferior coefficient ranking or simply not making it into the competition.        


Liverpool is one of the teams that did not qualify for the Club World Cup even though they went far in the Champions League in the last years. The Reds finished as runners-up in the 2022 final of the competition but had a drastic fall in the following season finishing outside of the top-four in the Premier League. A season without Champions League football means they fell down the coefficient rankings dramatically and will miss the Club World Cup altogether.     


Current Premier League leaders Arsenal returned to the Champions League stage after six years so that itself ruled them out of the selection criteria. Only by winning the competition the Gunners would have secured a spot in the Club World Cup 2025. However, losing to Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the 2023/24 season ended all hopes. In their place, 12th and the final European spot went to Austrian giants FC Salzburg.         

Manchester United

Another English giant to not make the list is Manchester United. The Red Devils failed to make a steady mark in the Champions League to honour them a place, failing to get into the competition in the 2022-23 season as well. United managed to get out of the group stage only once in the last four seasons. They finished 21st in the coefficient rankings which is not sufficient to help them qualify for the Club World Cup.


Along with the three clubs from England, AC Milan is one of the top teams in Italy not traveling for the tournament in 2025. Despite being one of the most decorated clubs in the Champions League, Milan's exit from the group stage this season ended their chances. The Rossoneri needed to make at least the last 16 stages to secure a spot in the Club World Cup. Juventus have made it from Serie A at their expense alongside their city rivals Inter.    


Barcelona would have reached the Club World Cup if they progressed to the semi-final of the Champions League. The Catalan giants failed to do so by losing to PSG in the last-eight with Atletico Madrid, despite being eliminated in the same stage, progressed to the Club World Cup for ranking higher in the coefficient rankings. Both Madrid clubs will represent Spain while Barcelona will pay the price of failing to make it out of the group stages in the last two editions.       


Record AFC Champions League winners Al-Hilal, 2022 winners Urawa Red Diamonds and the next best-placed side in the AFC 4-year ranking, Ulsan HD FC have qualified for the Club World Cup. The winners of the present edition will take up the last slot from Asia.    

Al Nassr

The most significant name to miss out on will be Al Nassr and their footballing star Cristiano Ronaldo. The Saudi league giants crashed out of the AFC Champions League in the quarterfinal stage to UAE’s Al-Ain on penalties. Al Nassr had to win the tournament this season to make their place in the Club World Cup but they suffered elimination from the contest.

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