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Report: FIFA pushing for 24-team Club World Cup in 2021

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FIFA will try to push through a 24-team “test” Club World Cup at a meeting on Friday.

The AP’s Rob Harris reports that Gianni Infantino is about the stress the FIFA calendar by plugging a 2021 Club World Cup into the space reserved for the recently-canceled Confederations Cup.

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It would also present a sublime opportunity for the clubs of Major League Soccer, who’ve been serially foiled by Liga MX in the CONCACAF Champions League.

That means a June/July Club World Cup which would feature as many as eight European teams, six South American teams, three each from CONCACAF, Africa, and Asia, and one from Oceania.

It would run from June 17-July 4, 2021.

The tournament usually occurs with eight teams, one from each of seven confederations and an additional from a host. Recently, that’s been a Middle Eastern team.

The 2018 CWC included Real Madrid, Kashima Antlers, River Plate, Esperance de Tunis, Chivas Guadalajara, Team Wellington and Al-Ain.

So how could a 24-team look, based on how the Champions League-style competitions have played out recently? Consider what could’ve been the 2018 tourney:

Tottenham Hotspur
Manchester City
Manchester United
Juventus
Ajax
Porto
Barcelona
Bayern Munich
Palmeiras
Gremio
River Plate
Cruzeiro
Corinthians
Libertad
Kashima Antlers
Suwon Samsung Blues
Persepolis
Toronto FC
Chivas Guadalajara
Club America
Al-Ahly
Esperance de Tunis
1de Agosto
Team Wellington

VIDEO: Peru celebrates reaching World Cup

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Thursday was a national holiday in Peru. After Wednesday’s celebrations, it was only fair.

[ MORE: World Cup pots confirmed

The Peruvian national team qualified for their first World Cup since 1982 by beating New Zealand 2-0 in Lima to secure a 2-0 aggregate victory in their inter-confederation playoff.

That victory sparked while celebrations in the Peruvian capital as president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski declared a national holiday on Thursday, while Chile’s seismology center revealed readings via phone applications which showed similar activity to an earthquake after Jefferson Farfan’s opening goal on Wednesday.

“It is confirmed that there is no natural earthquake activity in Lima. It seems the Peruvians’ excitement made the application activate,” Sismologia Chile said via their Twitter account.

In the lead up to the second leg with New Zealand (the first leg finished 0-0 in Wellington last week) Peru’s fans had set off fireworks outside New Zealand’s team hotel at 3 a.m. while military jets were also reported to have flown over the team hotel. Every little helps…

Take a look at the scenes below as Peru is back in the big dance for the first time in over 35 years.


New Zealand 0-0 Peru: Goalless first-leg draw gives hosts slight advantage for World Cup spot

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New Zealand held Peru to a goalless draw in Wellington in the first leg of their World Cup qualifying playoff, a victory for the hosts as they now hit the road needing only a draw with goals to secure a spot in Russia 2018.

The Oceanic side is considered a heavy underdog against the 10th-ranked team in the world, but they locked down Peru, holding them to just three shots on target on 11 overall attempts. Peru was out of ideas missing striker Paolo Guerrero, who failed a doping test and given a 30-day suspension.

The two teams will now head to Lima to finish the tie on Wednesday. Guerrero is currently out of the return leg as well, unless Peru wins an appeal against the suspension.

Peru had a signature moment in each half, but failed to capitalize on either. New Zealand goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic was the star both times, making a goal-line clearance just seven minutes in and expertly tipping an Aldo Corzo header over the bar just past the hour mark.

Burnley striker Chris Wood was withdrawn from the New Zealand starting lineup after being dogged by a lingering hamstring issue, but he was brought on in the second half as a substitute and immediately brought Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese into action.

The 90 minutes on Wednesday will now decide each country’s fate. Peru has not qualified for the World Cup in 36 years, while New Zealand – ranked 122nd in the world – is looking to reach just its third World Cup finals.

Score predictions for 2018 World Cup playoffs

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Just nine places are up for grabs ahead of the 2018 World Cup and six of those spots will be decided by the winners of two-legged playoffs.

The other three spots will be sewn up in the final round of games in the African (CAF) qualifying region.

Four playoffs take place around the UEFA region this week, while Honduras do battle with Australia and Peru square off with New Zealand for a place in the tournament in Russia next summer.

Below is a look at the six playoffs over the new few days with a score prediction and winner selected for each series.


UEFA

Denmark vs. Republic of Ireland (First leg, Nov. 11; Second leg, Nov. 14)
Ireland are the slight favorites here, especially given the fact that they have vast experience in these playoff situations and also that they play the second leg at home in Dublin. That said, Denmark must not be underestimated with Christian Eriksen pulling the strings and Kasper Schmeichel organizing the defense. Ireland’s ability to grind out results is impressive and I think they’ll just get the job done to qualify for their first World Cup since 2002. 2-1 on aggregate to the Republic of Ireland.


Northern Ireland vs. Switzerland (First leg, Nov. 9; Second leg, Nov. 12)
The first leg is so key in this game. Northern Ireland’s supporters create one of the best atmosphere’s in world soccer on the international stage and Windsor Park will be rocking in Belfast. Scoring goals could be an issue for Michael O’Neill’s side but they have a solid defensive core and the experience of Jonny Evans and Steven Davis is key. That said, the Swiss won nine of their 10 qualifying games but lost out on automatic qualification on goal difference to Portugal. Xherdan Shaqiri, Breel Embolo and Haris Seferovic will be the danger men and Switzerland may have just too much firepower for Northern Ireland. 3-1 on aggregate to Switzerland.


Croatia vs. Greece (First leg, Nov. 9; Second leg, Nov. 12)
A huge clash as regional rivals do battle. Given the quality of their squad, Croatia should ease past Greece. But given their stubborn displays in recent major tournaments, we all know how tough this Greek side can be to break down. Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic will be the key men for Croatia and they’ll look to end Greece’s hopes in Zagreb in the first leg. Kostas Mitroglou is Greece’s main man up top and he will give Dejan Lovren a tough time over two games. 4-1 to Croatia on aggregate.


Sweden vs. Italy (First leg, Nov.10; Second leg, Nov. 13)
This will be a tight, tense series between two teams who love to defend. The first leg in Stockholm will be all about Italy defending and trying to hit the Swedes on the break with the likes of Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne. Marcus Berg and Ola Toivonen aren’t the most prolific of strikers on the international stage (any chance of a comeback, Zlatan!?) but Sweden finished above the Netherlands in qualifying for a good reason and impressed in their recent home win against France. This is not a vintage Italy side and Gianluigi Buffon will be a little concerned that his international career may finish on a low. The upset is on. 2-1 to Sweden on aggregate. 


ASIA-CONCACAF

Honduras vs. Australia (First leg, Nov.10; Second leg, Nov. 15)
The first leg in San Pedro Sula will be an eye-opener for the Socceroos who edged past Syria in extra time over two legs to set up this clash with CONCACAF’s fourth-place team, Honduras. Tim Cahill is struggling with an injury for Australia with Aaron Mooy and Mile Jedinak set to play in central midfield and scrap it out ahead of the second leg in Sydney. Honduras will be hoping to take a lead to Australia with them for the second leg and with the vast experience of Maynor Figueroa and Boniek Garcia, they will stay calm and look to feed off the incredible home crowd. 3-2 to Honduras on aggregate.


CONMEBOL-OCEANIA

New Zealand vs. Peru (First leg, Nov.11; Second leg, Nov. 15)
There’s no doubt that Peru are the heavy favorites for this game but the All Whites, led by a talented young coach in Anthony Hudson, will look to keep it tight and play direct to Burnley’s Chris Wood up top. Winston Reid will skipper New Zealand and lead the defense by example in Wellington during the first leg. As for Peru, well, they impressed mightily in CONMEBOL qualifying and came agonizingly close to sealing World Cup qualification (for this first time since 1982, no less) automatically. Jefferson Farfan and Andre Carrillo will be the danger men in attack as Ricardo Gareca’s men will relish taking New Zealand back to Lima for the second leg. 3-1 to Peru on aggregate.

World Cup playoff dates set for Honduras-Australia, Peru-New Zealand

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The interconfederation playoffs set to determine two more places in the 2018 World Cup have dates and locations.

While UEFA has to wait for Tuesday for its playoff draws, the schedule is in place for CONCACAF vs. AFC, and CONMEBOL versus Oceania.

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And, yes, each of these posts carries a reminder that the U.S. will not headed for Russia, and stings us just as much as you.

Honduras (CONCACAF) vs. Australia (AFC)

Nov. 10 at San Pedro Sula
Nov. 15 at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium

Peru (CONMEBOL) vs. New Zealand (OFC)

Nov. 11 in Wellington, NZ
Nov. 15 at Lima’s Estadio Nacional