Real Madrid have shown they can score goals even without their star player Karim Benzema when they play Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal in the Club World Cup final on Saturday in Morocco.
After a rocky start to 2023, Carlo Ancelotti’s team, the current European and Spanish champions, hopes to win the competition for a sixth time and regain confidence.
The semi-final was missed by Madrid captain Karim Benzema due to a thigh injury, but he will train with the team on Friday before the final.
Los Blancos, who have already won four times, are the clear favorites to defeat Al-Hilal after defeating Al Ahly, an Egyptian team, 4-1 in the semifinals on Wednesday.
During Ancelotti’s first managerial tenure, Madrid won the competition in 2014, as well as in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
Along with youngster Sergio Arribas off the bench, Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo, and Fede Valverde lined up in attack and all scored in the victory.
Even if Madrid wasn’t at their best, the strikers’ cutting edge allowed them to overtake the 10-time champions of the African Champions League in the last minutes.
Benzema’s injury, according to Ancelotti, was not significant, but given his team’s dominant performance, the coach might decide to start the match with the Ballon d’Or winner on the bench even if he is well.
Madrid has dropped eight points behind their rivals in the fight for the La Liga championship since losing to Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup in January.
The Spanish capital’s spirits would be raised by winning their second trophy of the year after winning the European Super Cup in August.
Odion Ighalo, a former Manchester United striker, and Luciano Vietto, a former Atletico Madrid forward, are leading the line for Al-Hilal, who defeated Copa Libertadores champions Flamengo in the other semi-final.
After placing fourth in 2019 and 2021, the Asian Champions League champions are seeking to lift the title for the first time.
“We must respect this team; they have talented players and work effectively as a unit. They will be thrilled to play in the championship game, and we will be too,” Ancelotti remarked on Wednesday.
There are many teams throughout the world that can compete, fight, and win as well, thus football is changing.
Shaping a form
Madrid thought to have secured a spot in the championship game when they lead Al Ahly by two goals, but their opponents responded with a penalty and wasted a great opportunity to tie the score.
Rodrygo scored a fantastic goal to seal the victory after Luka Modric missed his own penalty attempt, and Arribas’ fourth goal put the icing on the cake.
Ancelotti was pleased to see Valverde back on the scoresheet because it was his first goal for the team since November.
In the wake of the World Cup and amid rumors of a family situation away from the field, Valverde hasn’t been at his best.
The midfielder was Madrid’s star performer during the first half of the season, helping them advance in the Champions League and maintain their lead over Barcelona in La Liga.
Ancelotti stated, “I’m glad because he had a good game.
“He delivered the goods, shown his talent, and earned a point. He is slowly making his way back.
Vinicius was able to ignore the problems he has recently encountered in Spain, including multiple incidents of racial abuse, and scored Madrid’s first goal with a deft chip.
With Benzema leading the line, Madrid are unquestionably more threatening, but the forward has been hindered this season by a string of minor injuries.
Other Madrid players who have been benched include Thibaut Courtois, Ferland Mendy, Lucas Vazquez, and Eden Hazard, who won’t be competing in the championship game. Eder Militao is also a question mark.
However, Ancelotti will be sure that his forwards can succeed and make history on Saturday after their goal-scoring spree against Al Ahly.