Copa Libertadores: River wins and is virtually qualified to the Club World Cup

Demichelis’s side beat Nacional 2-0 with an impressive goal by Echeverri

River Plate kept its unbeaten streak at the Copa Libertadores by beating Uruguay’s Nacional 2-0 at home on Thursday. The team coached by Martin Demichelis leads Group H with six points and after just two group stage games, has virtually secured its qualification for the FIFA Club World Cup in 2025.

River dominated affairs from the get go in the first half. After missing two good goal scoring chances in the first minutes, the Millonario took its dominance on the pitch to the scoreboard in the 14th minute. Pushing through a counter, Manchester City-bound midfielder Claudio Echeverri picked up the ball in the middle of the park, cut-in with his right foot and slotted a 30-meter low shot for the 1-0.

The goal forced Nacional to take the initiative and opened up the game. Both teams got chances to score, but the first half wrapped up with River in the lead.

The second half continued at a similar pace. Nacional was denied a potential penalty in the 72nd minute, when after an air duel in River’s box the ball hit the arm of both Paulo Díaz and Rodrigo Villagra. However, Chilean referee Cristian Garay judged it to be a rebound and VAR confirmed the decision.

With Nacional all-out on attack, River settled the game in the 92nd minute of added time, as a lightning-quick counter found striker Facundo Colidio in right under the goal, needing only to head the ball in for the final 2-0.

FIFA Club World Cup qualification

Despite being in the early stages of the Copa Libertadores, the win has set River on course for the FIFA Club World Cup to be held in 2025 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The tournament, which won’t be played in 2024 — with the reborn Intercontinental Cup taking its place — will debut its new format in the coming year.

The Club World Cup will see 32 teams compete every four years, with qualification spots given per continent resulting in places for four teams from Africa, four from Asia, twelve from Europe, four from North America, Central America and the Caribbean, one from Oceania and six from South America.

The winners of the top continental competitions — like the UEFA Champions League and the Conmebol Libertadores — from the previous four years will qualify, as well as a number of teams that will make it through via a points system based on results in said competitions.

With Palmeiras, Flamengo, and Fluminense already qualified as Libertadores winners, the three remaining spots will be granted to the 2024 cup winner, as well as two teams from the points system.

Thursday’s win saw River overtake Boca Juniors as point leader with 73 points. The Xeneize is out of the Libertadores and cannot gain any more points, meaning River can only lose it’s spot if two teams out of Nacional (46 points), Independiente del Valle (45), Cerro Porteño (43) or Barcelona de Ecuador (42) surpass its point tally and no other Argentine team (Talleres, Estudiantes, Rosario Central, or San Lorenzo) win the Copa Libertadores.


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