A galaxy of football stars are set to descend on Abu Dhabi to battle it out to be crowned the best in the world.
The FIFA Club World Cup 2018 is just around the corner, with the likes of Real Madrid, Al Ain, Guadalajara and Team Wellington fighting for the title.
And the action will all play out in the capital’s Zayed Sports City Stadium and Al Ain’s Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.
It’s the latest major sporting spectacle to come to Abu Dhabi and fans are in for a treat as their heroes come to town. Here’s our essential guide to the FIFA Club World Cup 2018 action.
What exactly is it?
The concept is pretty simple – the champions of each continent’s club showpiece gather to play each other for the bragging rights of being champions of the planet.
The line-up includes the winners of Europe’s UEFA Champions League, South America’s Copa Libertadores and Asia’s AFC Champions League. Joining them in Abu Dhabi will be the kingpins of Oceania’s OFC Champions League, Africa’s CAF Champions League and the CONCACAF Champions League – the premier club cup in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Who can we expect to see?
So far, we know Spain’s Real Madrid, Mexico’s Guadalajara, Japan’s Kashima Antlers, New Zealand’s Team Wellington, Tunisian side Espérance Sportive de Tunis and host side Al Ain will take to the field next week.
We’re still waiting on one final spot, which will go to the winners of a clash between fierce Argentinian rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate.
The second and decisive leg was due to be played on November 25 but crowd troubles forced it to be abandoned and it will now take place sometime in December instead.
Player-wise, the likes of Spanish ace Sergio Ramos, Croatian maestro Luka Modric and Swedish frontman Marcus Berg are set to thrill the crowds.
Meanwhile, Tunisian playmaker Anice Badri, Japanese goalscorer Kuma Suzuki and Mexican hero Carlos Salcido are also among the biggest names.
How does it work?
The tournament takes a knockout format with teams facing off against each other in one-off games to win a place in the final.
Al Ain earned its place as host club, while Spanish giants Real Madrid will be hoping to regain their title after winning last year with a narrow 1-0 win over Brazilian side Gremio thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo strike.
The first play-off sees Al Ain and Team Wellington pitted against each other at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on December 12.
Two quarter finals will be played on December 15 in the UAE’s Garden City, with Espérance Sportive de Tunis, Kashima Antlers and Guadalajara entering the competition at that stage.
Real Madrid and the South American representatives are already automatically in the semi-finals, with the winners of those two ties set to clash in the grand final.
The losers of the two semi-finals, meanwhile, will play each other for the honour of third place.
How can I get involved?
The first handful of games take place in Al Ain, before the tournament moves to Abu Dhabi for one of the semi-finals, the third place playoff and final, which takes place in the capital on December 22.
There are still plenty of tickets available for the games, with prices as low as Dhs25 for some of the clashes in the earlier rounds.
You can book tickets via the official website at www.fifacwc.ae. Come on Al Ain!
From Dhs25. Dec 12-15. Various locations. www.fifacwc.ae.