The 2023 FIFA Club World Cup semi-finals will continue when Al Ahly and Real Madrid go head-to-head at the Stade Moulay Abdallah on Wednesday.
Following a 3-0 demolition of Auckland City in the tournament’s curtain-raiser, Al Ahly ousted Major League Soccer franchise Seattle Sounders 1-0 in the last round to set up this tie.
Ominously for the reigning CAF Champions League holders, this stage proved the end of the road in their last two appearances at the tournament.
They lost 2-0 to Bayern Munich and Palmeiras, respectively, and with the four-time Club World Cup winners waiting in the wings, they seem unlikely to break their semi-final course.
Seeking a record-extending fifth title in this annual competition, Los Merengues travel to Morocco on the back of a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Mallorca in La Liga.
An underwhelming result at the Visit Mallorca Estadi left Madrid eight points off league leaders Barcelona, so amends for a frustrating domestic campaign should drive them forward in Rabat.
However, Carlo Ancelotti’s side will take on Al Ahly without two talismanic figures, as Karim Benzema and Thibaut Courtois have missed the plane due to injuries.
Even without the two long-serving stalwarts, the Spaniards come into proceedings as overwhelming pre-match favourites, even though they’ve experienced a stuttering start to the new calendar year.
Afsha’s 88th-minute winner against Seattle gave Al Ahly hope that they could improve on their best previous achievement of finishing third in this competition.
Familiar with weather conditions in North Africa and inspired by an outrageous 23-game unbeaten streak in all competitions (W19, D4), the Red Devils will believe in a miracle.
Staying firm at the back could be crucial to Al Ahly’s bid to upset the odds and after going four straight matches without conceding (W4), they ought to take the field in high spirits.
After being beaten by fierce rivals Barcelona in the Supercopa de Espana showpiece in January, Los Blancos are reluctant to miss out on another piece of silverware this year.
Madrid have historically thrived at this tournament, suffering just one defeat in 12 Club World Cup outings (10, D1), though only one of their ten triumphs in the competition came against African opponents.
With four of their last five competitive matches seeing one or both sides fail to get on the scoresheet, breaking the deadlock could be critical to this fixture.
Al Ahly vs Real Madrid Potential Line-ups
Al Ahly (4-3-3): Mohamed El Shenawy; Mohamed Hany, Metwalli, Mohamed Abdelmonem, Ali Maaloul; Hamdy Fathy, Aliou Dieng, Amr El Solia; Percy Tau, Mohamed Sherif, Ahmed Abdel Kader.
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Andriy Lunin; Dani Carvajal, Nacho Fernandez, Antonio Rudiger, David Alaba; Toni Kroos, Aurelien Tchouameni, Luka Modric; Federico Valverde, Rodrygo, Vinicius Junior.
How to Watch?
Al Ahly vs Real Madrid, alongside all other Los Blancos’ fixtures, is available to watch online via live Real Madrid streaming.
Al Ahly vs Real Madrid Prediction
Despite Madrid’s rough patch at the start of the calendar year, Ancelotti’s men possess enough quality and experience in their ranks to navigate this semi-final tie.
But we still expect Al Ahly to frustrate their esteemed opponents with some stubborn defending, potentially leading to a slender 1-0 scoreline.
Al Ahly 0-1 Real Madrid
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