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Club World Cup final preview: Real Madrid should prevent Al-Hilal entering bonus territory

The FIFA Club World Cup final pits aristocrats Real Madrid against Saudi side Al-Hilal Riyadh in Morocco on Sunday evening and, chances are, Los Blancos won't make any mistakes.

It took Madrid until 2014 to earn a maiden win in this revamped version of the competition, but they went on to win four times in five years after that. 

Now the Spanish giants are 2/7 clear favourites to end their latest wait for the title, with Al-Hilal Riyadh the outsiders at 10/1 in the Full Time Result market and the draw priced at 9/2.

WhatReal Madrid v Al-Hilal Riyadh
WherePrince Moulay Abdellah Stadium, Rabat, Morocco
When20.00, Sunday 12th February, 2023
How to watchLive streaming on FIFA+ and FIFA YouTube channel
OddsReal Madrid 2/7, Draw 9/2, Al-Hilal Riyadh 10/1

Al-Hilal in bonus territory 

The Al-Hilal players got the good news following their semi-final win that Prince Alwaleed bin Talal would be issuing a payout worth approximately £220,000 per player for the victory.

Doubtless, there could be more where that came from if they can upstage European aristocrats Real Madrid in the final but it seems a tall order for the 10/1 outsiders.

Saudi Arabian outfit Al Hilal stunned 10-man Flamengo to reach the final with a 3-2 victory over the South American champions on Tuesday thanks to two penalties from Salem Al Dawsari and a close-range strike from Luciano Vietto.

Al Dawsari opened the scoring from the spot after three minutes but the Brazilians were starting to find their feet when the game altered dramatically in first-half stoppage time when Gerson conceded a penalty and was sent off.

Al Hilal, the first Saudi side to reach the Club World Cup final, added a third via Vietto and even though Pedro notched for the ten men, it was not enough.

That win came on a tough night for football, with wind howling around the stadium, and was aided by the South America side losing their cool. 

Madrid cruise through despite absentees 

Egypt's Al Ahly proved no match for a Real Madrid side minus a host of big names in the second semi-final.

Vinicius Jr opened the scoring three minutes before half-time, with Federico Valverde doubling the lead just after the break.

A penalty from Tunisia's Ali Maaloul midway through the second half gave Al Ahly hope, but Real extinguished that with goals from Rodrygo and substitute Sergio Arribas late in the contest, both strikes well worth waiting for.

It leaves Madrid closing in on a record-extending fifth Club World Cup crown and, after some recent patchy form in La Liga, boss Carlo Ancelotti will be delighted to have this distraction and the chance to land some silverware.

Despite an absentee list that is set to include Karim Benzema, Thibaut Courtois, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy, Lucas Vasquez and Eden Hazard, Ancelotti's side should get the win.

Respect is one thing, losing quite another

In the aftermath of their semi-final win, the experienced Real boss stressed: "We are up against a team that won the semi-final by playing well and deserved to be in the final. We have to respect this team."

Perhaps the wily Italian let slip a bit more than he intended in conceding he was "surprised that Flamengo were eliminated" in the same interview. 

The Brazilians may well be in pre-season, but Ancelotti would have been expecting to face them. 

His side should boss things in the final and the 4/5 on offer for Madrid in Half-Time/Full Time makes more appeal than siding with the Spaniards to win in 90 minutes.

Al-Hilal were given a sizeable push in the right direction by Flamengo as they were awarded two penalties and Real are unlikely to be as accommodating. 

Rodrygo should continue to lead the line on Sunday, with Vinicius Jr and Valverde either side of him. All three were on the scoresheet in the semi-final and they will present a major threat again. 

Though they had to wait for goals in the second half in the semi-final, Madrid's quality told in the end and they could be comfortable winners again here, with the Handicap Result offering Real Madrid -2 at 7/4 for those of a mind to side with a comfortable success. 

Real's last appearance in this showpiece game was back in 2018, when they were convincing 4-1 winners over another Gulf-based side in Al-Ain of the UAE. With that front trio in form, Madrid should create plenty of chances and they are 1/1 in the Team Total Goals market to score over 2.5 goals. 

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