A Real Madrid with its tongue hanging out, punished by the incessant chain of games and with a full infirmary, faces the semifinals of the Club World Cup, this Wednesday in Rabat against the Egyptian Al Ahly, who seeks to give the bell after adding two victories in Morocco.
The Champions League champion lives his lowest hours of the season, with up to six players injured and conceding defeats that have already cost him the Super Cup -a 3-1 defeat against Barcelona- and falling eight points behind his great rival in the League .
“The calendar is terrible, we have had injuries, but we are growing and we have the confidence to do well,” said the white coach Carlo Ancelotti on Tuesday at a press conference.
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Schedules to watch live Al Ahly vs. real Madrid
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Without Benzema or Courtois
The Italian had already predicted it, the load of matches that a European champion has plus the unusual World Cup dispute between November and December suppose an unprecedented requirement. And Real Madrid is paying dearly for it.
He will appear in Morocco without his great offensive weapon, Karim Benzema, who suffered an overload last week and who he will not risk before what his team has ahead of him in the coming weeks: Cup semifinals against Barcelona and Champions League round of 16 against Liverpool for a total of 16 games in eight weeks.
In addition to the Ballon d’Or, Eder Militao, Lucas Vázquez, Ferland Mendy, Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois stayed in Madrid, who injured his thigh on Sunday in the warm-up before his team lost 1-0 in Mallorca.
However Ancelotti pointed out that Benzema, Militao and Courtois could join the team. “They are on the list, they stayed recovering, if they are well they will come to the game on Saturday,” he said about the day the final will be played and the duel for third place.
The Italian coach cannot count on the best version of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, David Alaba, Dani Carvajal and Aurelien Tchouameni, all of whom have suffered from some discomfort in recent weeks.
And in attack Rodrygo and Fede Valverde, inspired by the first part of the season, lack regularity, while Vinicius has lost the effectiveness of last year, starring in some very difficult weeks, victim of several racist incidents with fans and constant clashes with rivals on the grass.
Even Marco Asensio missed a penalty on Sunday against Mallorca. Few other alternatives remain for Ancelotti, who takes homegrown players Mario Martín, Sergio Arribas, Marvel, Luis López and Lucas Cañizares to Morocco, the latter two being the goalkeepers who will accompany the Ukrainian Andriy Lunin, who will be the starter.
At the Príncipe Moulay Abdellah stadium in the Moroccan capital, Al Ahly will try to strike a blow against Real Madrid and surpass its all-time high, the three third places it has achieved in its eight appearances in the Mundialito.
The Egyptian team, king of Africa with its ten continental titles, has been led since 2022 by former Swiss international Marcel Koller.
The base of their squad is made up of Egyptian internationals, plus some foreigners such as Ali Maaloul from Tunisia, Percy Tau from South Africa or Aliou Dieng from Mali.
“Playing against the European champions is a dream match, if they had told us that we were going to play against Real Madrid I would have responded, ‘they’re crazy’, but it’s a reality. We are going without pressure and we will see what happens”, said the latter.
African runner-up and invited to the tournament, he already has two wins with four goals scored and none conceded (3-0 against Auckland City and 1-0 against Seattle Sounders).
“It is a great achievement to face Real Madrid in the semifinals, we will prepare theoretically and technically for the game, it is a challenge,” Koller said on Sunday about the big event. (D)
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