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Club World Cup semi-finals - Al Ahly v Real Madrid preview: Real may find it hard

A place in the Club World Cup final against Flamengo or Al-Hilal is up for grabs when Al Ahly and Real Madrid meet on Wednesday evening in Morocco.

Real Madrid have won the Club World Cup on four occasions, more than any other team, while Al Ahly have never reached the final before, so a victory for the Spanish giants would appear to be the most likely outcome.

However, Al Ahly are the most successful African team and have been Egyptian champions no fewer than 42 times. They are also a well-organised outfit and have kept eight clean sheets in their last 10 matches.

Al Ahly are currently six points clear at the top of the Egyptian Premier League table and are unbeaten in 23 matches in all competitions, including victories in each of their last five games.

WhatAl Ahly v Real Madrid, Club World Cup semi-final
WherePrince Moulay Abdallah Stadium, Rabat, Morocco
When19.00, 8th February 2023
OddsAl Ahly 9/1, Draw 17/4, Real Madrid 3/10

Real target fifth title

Real’s last success in the competition came in 2018 when they defeated Al-Ain from the United Arab Emirates 4-1 in the final.

One year earlier they edged past Gremio 1-0, while in 2016 they saw off Japanese side Kashima Antlers 4-2 after extra-time.

Their first triumph came in 2014 when they beat the Argentinian side San Lorenzo 2-0, with Real having never finished runners-up in the Club World Cup.

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Al Ahly seek massive shock

As well as being extremely successful in their domestic league, Al Ahly have lifted the Egypt Cup 37 times and have also won a record 10 CAF Champions League titles.

They have finished third at the Club World Cup on three occasions and are available at 20/1 to cause a seismic shock by beating Carlo Ancelotti’s star-studded side 1-0.

Al Ahly are taking part in their eighth Club World Cup and booked their place in this year’s competition by finishing as runners-up in the CAF Champions League. The Red Devils lost 2-0 to Morocco-based Wydad, but were granted a spot in the competition when Morocco were appointed as the host country.

Al Ahly are appearing in their third consecutive Club World Cup. Their tournament debut came in 2005 when they were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Saudi outfit Al-Ittihad.

The following year, under coach Manuel Jose, they beat Auckland City before losing to Sport Club Internacional. They then defeated Mexico's Club America in the match for third place.

After another quarter-final exit in 2008, the Cairo club reached the semi-finals in 2012 only to lose the last-four game and the third-place play-off. Former coach Pitso Mosimane then guided them to consecutive third-place finishes in 2020 and 2021.

Wily Ancelotti can outfox Koller

Former Switzerland international Marcel Koller is the current coach of Al Ahly, having replaced Ricardo Soares last October.

He will be pitting his wits against one of the most respected and experienced coaches in world football on Wednesday when he comes up against Carlo Ancelotti, who guided teams to success in the Club World Cup in 2007 and 2014.

The Italian, who has won league titles in Spain, Italy, Germany, England and France, returned to Real Madrid in June 2021 when he succeeded Zinedine Zidane.

Real have been handed a bye to the semi-finals, but suffered a shock 1-0 loss to Mallorca at the weekend, a result that left them eight points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona after 20 matches of the campaign.

In contrast Al Ahly have had to win two matches to reach this stage of the Club World Cup. After a relatively straightforward 3-0 victory against Auckland City they had to dig deep before edging past Seattle Sounders 1-0.

Substitute Mohamed Afsha scored the winning goal in Tangier just when the game appeared to be heading for extra-time. He forced the ball home after his initial shot had come back into play off the crossbar. He is 13/2 To Score At Any Time against Real.

Both teams have injury worries

Al Ahly will be without Mostafa Shobeir, Karim Fouad and Akram Tawfik for the semi-final clash as they continue to recover from long-term injuries.

As for Real, Ferland Mendy (hamstring), Eden Hazard (knee) and Lucas Vazquez (ankle) are all sidelined with injuries, while former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is also expected to miss out after picking up a muscle problem in the warm-up shortly before the defeat against Mallorca.

Karim Benzema (hamstring) and Eder Militao (groin) are both considered major doubts after missing the defeat against Mallorca.

A narrow 1-0 victory for Real can be backed at 6/1.

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