Manchester United will need to win the UEFA Champions League this season if they are to have any hope of qualifying for the biggest club competition in history.
FIFA has revamped their Club World Cup, scrapping the current setup in which seven clubs that win their respective continental tournaments face off in a straight knockout tournament.
Instead, world football’s governing body is looking to emulate the format of the regular World Cup, whereby 32 clubs from across the globe will play against one another once every four years.
With an enormous prize fund of over £50 million per team, the first edition of the new-look Club World Cup is set to take place in the USA in 2025.
There are 12 available spots for European teams at the tournament, four of which go to the Champions League winners from 2021 until the current season, meaning that Chelsea, Manchester City, and Real Madrid have all secured qualification as well as this season’s champion.
An additional eight slots will be allocated according to UEFA’s four-year ‘coefficient’ list, based on each club’s performance in European competitions.
There is also a cap of two clubs per country that will be enforced, unless that country has more than two clubs that have won the Champions League from 2021 onwards.
Considering that both Chelsea and Manchester City have already qualified due to being Champions League winners, this means that Man United will not be able to secure progression on their UEFA coefficient ranking alone.
The only way that United will be able to qualify would be to lift the Champions League trophy themselves.
The path to Champions League glory this season will be a long and challenging one given United’s poor start to the season.
A tight 4-3 loss to Bayern Munich in their opening match was followed by a disappointing 3-2 defeat to Galatasaray at Old Trafford.
Fortunately, a Harry Maguire header and Andre Onana penalty save secured a 1-0 win for United against FC Copenhagen on Tuesday night, lifting them off the bottom of Group A and within touching distance of second place with three matches left to play.
United’s next Champions League clash will be on November 8, when they will play their away tie against Copenhagen.