14:00 ET Canada-USA | 21:00 Cairo Local Time
Andres Matonte (Uruguay)
Prince Moulay Abdellah (Morocco)
Real Madrid begins their Club World Cup campaign with a semi-final encounter against Egyptian side Al Ahly at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Morocco tonight.
Los Blancos suffered a surprise 1-0 La Liga defeat to Mallorca on Sunday, while The Red Devils “Al Ahly” have won each of their last five matches in all competitions.
Coming to football, needless to say Real Madrid are the overwhelming favorite not just for this game but also to win an extending-record fifth Club World Cup title.
However, Ahly players believe in their chances – even if these are slim.
“Nothing is impossible in football, we have to give our best on the pitch to realise our dream of reaching the final and winning the title. Tomorrow it will be 11 against 11 and only the performance and effort deployed by those men count,” defender Mohamed Abdel-Moneim was quoted as saying on Ahly’s website.
The Egyptians’ hopes may be boosted by the injuries that hit their rivals who came to Rabat without seven of their key players, including keeper Thibaut Courtois and the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema.
Still, Ahly coach Marcel Koller believes these absences won’t impact Real Madrid and that the Merengues have a plethora of players to fill in for them.
The Swiss tactician, however, draws inspiration from Morocco’s unexpected win over Spain in the quarters in the last World Cup a few weeks ago.
“If they can do it I hope we can,” he told the club’s website.
The Reds fans are counting on their happy fortunes in a similar Egyptian-Spanish clash more than 20 years ago when Ahly beat Real Madrid’s Galacticos 1-0 in a friendly in Cairo in 2001.
Flashback 2001 Al Ahly 1-0 Real Madrid
A repeat Egyptian victory over the Spaniards tomorrow in the Club World Cup will send the match into football’s history books.
Teams injury list and predicted line-up:
Out: Mostafa Shobeir (ligament), Karim Fouad (knee), Akram Tawfik (knee)
Predicted XI: El Shenawy; Hany, Metwalli, Abdelmonem, Maaloul; Fathi, Dieng, El Solia; Tau, Sherif, Abdel Kader
Out: Thibaut Courtois (muscle), Karim Benzema (hamstring), Eder Militao (groin), Ferland Mendy (hamstring), Eden Hazard (knee), Lucas Vazquez (ankle)
Predicted XI: Lunin; Carvajal, Nacho, Rudiger, Alaba; Kroos, Tchouameni, Modric; Valverde, Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr.
FT Al Ahly 1-4 Real Madrid | Club World Cup 2023 semi-finals