Real Madrid will square up against Al Hilal in the final of the Club World Cup in search of their fifth title.
European giants Real Madrid are all set to go up against Al Hilal in the Club World Cup final on Saturday at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Morocco. While Real Madrid will feature in the final for the sixth time, Al Hilal have created history and entered the final for the very first time.
Los Blancos have won the Club World Cup final on four occasions. And, Carlo Ancelotti’s men are hoping to make it five when they face the Saudi Arabian club. The last time Real Madrid won the tournament was four years back.
The Merengues made it into the final after a 4-1 win over Al Ahly in the semi-final. It was a game full of events as Vinicius Junior and Federico Valverde scored on either side of halftime to give the Spanish giants a 2 goal lead. But, shortly after they conceded one. Luka Modric missed a penalty as stoppage-time goals from Rodrygo and Sergio Arribas ensured their entry into the final.
Real Madrid have had a tough time of late, they have dropped quite a few points in the league. The La Liga defending champions are eight points behind league leader Barcelona. Before traveling to Morocco, they lost 1-0 against Mallorca. But, they managed to bounce back and seal a spot in the final.
Los Blancos lifted the Club World Cup for the first time in 2014 after defeating San Lorenzo in the final. Their first-ever triumph in the global event was under the leadership of Ancelotti and now 9 years later he is all set to guide them to their fifth title. They were a part of the inaugural edition of the tournament back in 2000 but failed to get it done that year.
The Spanish giants have won the most number of games (10) and scored the most goals (32) in the history of the tournament. Ancelotti is looking for his third Club World Cup title having won it with Los Blancos (2014) and AC Milan (2007).
As far as their opponents Al Hilal are concerned, they have already created history by making it this far in the tournament. They are the first Saudi Arabian team to feature in the final. The Saudi Arabian side defeated Flamengo in a thrilling game that saw five goals being scored.
Al Hilal qualified for the tournament as the holders of the AFC Champions League. They have featured in this tournament two times in the past and in their third attempt they have made it into the final.
In their previous two attempts they finished fourth but this time around they have already done a much better job by making it into the final. The Saudi Arabian team are in red-hot form, they have only lost two of their 19 matches in all competitions in the ongoing season.
The Blue Waves will believe that they can overcome a tough challenge in Real Madrid. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at this fixture between two big clubs from their respective leagues and analyses the team and their tactics.
Team News & Tactics
Los Blancos will be without the services of Ferland Mendy, Eden Hazard, Lucas Vazquez, and Thibaut Courtois who are out injured. While Dani Carvajal and Marco Asensio will return to the squad after being out of the semi-final.
Karim Benzema and Eder Militao did not make the trip to Morocco for the semi-final but they travelled for the final. The duo has been added to the squad but their participation is still in doubt.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) February 9, 2023
Andriy Lunin will continue in goal for Carlo Ancelotti. David Alaba might finally start as the left-back having featured in the semi-final as a center-back. Eduardo Camavinga will drop to the bench. The midfield and attack are expected to be unchanged.
Carlo Ancelotti will once again go ahead with his (4-3-3) formation. Lunin will start in goal, Alaba will move to the left-back role while Carvajal will slot in at right-back. Meanwhile, Nacho and Rudiger will be the centre-back pairing. Benzema might make an appearance off the bench if needed.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Lunin; Carvajal, Nacho, Rudiger, Alaba; Kroos, Tchouameni, Modric; Valverde, Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr.
Al Hilal have a major boost ahead of the final as Mohamed Kanno returns from suspension. He had an impressive outing for Saudi Arabia in the FIFA World Cup 2022 and is expected to feature in the final.
Andre Carrillo is doubtful for the fixture against Real Madrid after having picked up an injury in the second round. He did feature in the semi-final but has revealed that it was with the help of painkillers he managed to play through the pain.
Los Blancos will have to be wary of the threat that Saudi World Cup hero Salem Al-Dawsari will bring. He helped his nation script history and beat the eventual Champions Argentina in the group stage of the global event.
— AlHilal Saudi Club (@Alhilal_EN) February 10, 2023
Odion Ighalo and Moussa Marega are two of their star players who will start against Real Madrid. Vietto who came on as a sub in the semi-final will hope to have a place in the starting XI.
Ramón Díaz is likely to go ahead with the 4-2-3-1 formation. He will aware of the threat that Real possesses and as result, a five-man midfield is what he will prefer. Because they can drop deep and help out the defense when needed.
Abdullah Al-Mayouf will start in goal. Saud Abdulhamid, Jang Hyun-soo, Ali Albulayhi, and Khalifah Al-Dawsari will make the back four. Kanno and Gustavo Cuéllar will form the pivot in front of the defense.
Luciano Vietto will play as the attacking midfielder behind striker Ighalo. Salem Aldawsari and Moussa Marega will play out wide.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Al-Mayouf; Abdulhamid, Jang, Albulayhi, K.Al-Dawsari; Kanno, Cuellar; Marega, Vietto, Aldawsari; Ighalo
- The Spanish giants have won the most number of games (10) and scored the most goals (32) in the tournament.
- Carlo Ancelotti has won the CWC twice. He has lifted the silverware with Real Madrid and AC Milan. He is hoping to go level with Pep Guardiola who has won the cup thrice.
- Real Madrid have won the Club World Cup a record four times and are on the verge of making it five.
- This is going to be the first meeting between Al Hilal and Real Madrid when they square up against each other in the Club World Cup final.
- Al Hilal are the first Saudi Arabian team to make it into the final of the Club World Cup after having failed to do so on two previous occasions.
Player to Watch
The rise of Federico Valverde is one of the best things to have happened to Real Madrid in the past few seasons. His versatility allows Los Blancos different options. Ancelotti has used him as a winger, central midfielder, and even as a defensive midfielder when needed. So it is hardly surprising that his performances have attracted clubs like Manchester United.
Valverde is a man for the finals, he has the Real Madrid DNA in him and gives his heart out on the field. He played an important role in helping the Merengues win the Champions League last season and is expected to deliver another standout performance.
Real Madrid 2-0 Al Hilal
Al Hilal have already created history by making it this far in the competition but adding to it in the final seems a next-to-impossible task. They do have quite a few big players in their team but there is a huge gap in terms of quality between the two sides.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid have enough big players in their team to get the job done and the Saudi Arabian club might not stand a chance in the Club World Cup final. The Hard Tackle predicts an easy 2-0 win for the Los Blancos.