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Bayer Leverkusen
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 By Nick Ames

Club World Cup preview: Real Madrid and Club America head to Japan

The FC crew evaluate Gianni Infantino's proposal to expand the Club World Cup to 32 teams and hold the tournament in the summer.

The 2016 FIFA Club World Cup begins Thursday in Japan, with seven teams from around the globe vying for the title, which will be handed out Dec. 17. ESPN FC's Nick Ames profiles the competing clubs and what to watch for over the 10-day tournament.

Here's the match schedule, with Kashima Antlers facing Auckland City in the playoff round on Dec. 8.

Real Madrid

First game: vs. Jeonbuk Motors or Club America, Dec. 15

Who are they? Champions League holders, leaders of La Liga by six points and...

 By Mark Gleeson

Pitso Mosimane, Mamelodi Sundowns' African Champions League glory

Mamelodi Sundowns are the second South African team in history to win the African Champions League.

The vagaries of air travel on the continent mean Mamelodi Sundowns will only arrive home on Wednesday morning from Egypt, two days after clinching the African Champions League title following an extraordinary 3-1 aggregate win over Zamalek in Alexandria.

The rather unassuming trophy will be the prized possession in the baggage as Pitso Mosimane's men are expected to be greeted by a large crowd at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg at the end of a whirlwind five-month campaign that has...

 By Mark Gleeson

Mamelodi Sundowns on the brink of being deserved African champions

Players of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrate after winning the first leg of the African Champions League final vs. Zamalek 3-0.

Mamelodi Sundowns might have crept in the back door, but they are now close to blowing down the house after a performance on Saturday that puts them within touching distance of winning the African Champions League.

Much has been made of how the South African club were eliminated from the competition before the group phase and then granted a reprieve when their Congolese opponents were found to have used a defaulter.

Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane was only half joking when he compared his side to...

 By Mark Gleeson

Zesco United look to upset the odds in African Champions League semifinals

Zesco United have defied the odds to reach the semifinals of the African Champions League.

The only previous time two southern African clubs battled each other for a place in the African Champions League final, South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns edged Angola's Petro Atletico after a penalty shootout back in 2001.

The region might boast the continent's biggest economy but its clubs are some distance off the footballing achievements of their northern and western cousins.

It is the Arabic-speaking countries of the north that are the real powerhouse of the club game, and this is reflected again...

 By Mark Gleeson

South Africa's PSL season begins amid concern at the state of the game

Mamelodi Sundowns fans have had plenty to cheer recently but PSL attendances are low overall.

South Africa's Premier Soccer League boasts a place among the top television markets in world football, yet faces some real dilemmas as the new season gets underway on Tuesday.

Rapidly declining attendances go hand-in-hand with a general pessimism about the state of the domestic game, especially after a lack of success for the country's national team. The 2010 World Cup is now but a distant memory as clubs line up for a new campaign, albeit using all of the wondrous stadia infrastructure left in...