Deprived of Karim Benzema and Thibaut Courtois, Real Madrid, which is eight points behind FC Barcelona in La Liga, will start the Club World Cup this Wednesday against the Egyptian club Al-Ahly. Can the Merengue win the title at the end of the week ?
With its cohort of injured and its current poor form, Real Madrid have no choice: to avoid a crisis, they must win the Club World Cup played this week in Morocco, starting with the semi-final against the Egyptians.
Doubt sets in: Real Madrid, the record holder for the number of crowns in the competition (four titles in 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018) flew to Rabat with the aim of winning a new trophy, disregarding the glitches that plague the daily life of the merengue club, relegated to eight points from FC Barcelona in the league.
The biggest of them concerns Karim Benzema. Hit in the back of the right knee Thursday against Valencia in La Liga (2-0), the Ballon d’Or 2022 is not in the group of 22 players selected for the Club World Cup. Ditto for Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, also hit in the leg during the pre-match warm-up on Sunday in Mallorca, where Real Madrid lost (1-0).
“This defeat concerns La Liga, now our eyes are on the Club World Cup. We will go there with great enthusiasm, with difficulties too, but we will try to manage them in the best possible way”, tried to sweep away Carlo Ancelotti in a post-match press conference on Sunday.
And these “difficulties” are not limited to the absences of Karim Benzema and Thibaut Courtois. Real Madrid, author of a mixed start to the year 2023 (defeat in the Spanish Super Cup in mid-January in Saudi Arabia, poor performance in La Liga, etc.), must deal with a mess of injuries which are hampering the plan to game of the Italian technician.
The last to relapse was Eden Hazard this week. The Belgian, who has been used very little since the start of the season, is suffering from tendinitis in his left knee and will be out for another week or so.
Lucas Vazquez (ankle sprain) and Ferland Mendy (left thigh injury), injured for many weeks, will not resume anytime soon. Eder Militao, released like Karim Benzema against Valencia on Thursday, may be available for the World Cup final, if qualified. And that’s not to mention David Alaba, Aurélien Tchouaméni and Dani Carvajal, who are also coming back from injury.
A strong opponent at the club world cup
On the other hand, the Egyptian giant Al-Ahly qualified for the semi-finals after a victory (1-0) against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday, thanks to a goal from Mohamed Afsha late in the game (88th).
They started with a victory net against the New Zealand’s Auckland City (3-0). The Cairo team in the 10 African Champions Leagues is present in this 2023 edition even if it lost the last continental C1 final against Wydad Casablanca, the “host” club this year
Third in the 2020 and 2021 editions, Al-Ahly remains unbeaten since last August and a defeat in the league against El Gaish.