The FIFA Club World Cup is a competition usually dominated and won by the European Champions. However, the gap in quality between Europe and the rest of the world has been bridged to a large extent in recent years, and the recent World Cup is a testament to that.
Real Madrid’s second trophy of the season, the title of Club World Champions, and a €6 million prize money will be on the line when they step onto the field in Morocco on Saturday night.
To walk away with the accolade, the men in white must see off Al Hilal. The Saudi-based side stunned Flamengo in the semi-finals in a dominant performance where they scored three times in 70 minutes and are deserved finalists purely on merit.
It will be vital for the Real Madrid players to keep their heads down and work hard for ninety minutes to earn the result they deserve. Their recent run may not be promising, but they are the clear favourites heading into the tie.
Madrid Universal brings you the possible lineup Carlo Ancelotti could field on Saturday night.
Thibaut Courtois would be the natural choice to start the but given his recent fitness setback, it will be Andriy Lunin that guards the post for a third successive game.
Ancelotti’s problems with injured players extend to the next department as Eder Militao has only just returned to training after an injury layoff. Antonio Rudiger must thus hold the game by the scruff. He is expected to start alongside David Alaba who is completely fit.
At left-back, the Italian tactician finds himself without the services of Ferland Mendy. It has seen Eduardo Camavinga rise to prominence as a makeshift left-back. Needless to say, it is the Ancelotti way to not change a working system, giving the Frenchman good chances to start.
Dani Carvajal missed the semi-final against Al Ahly due to fever, but is expected to return at right-back.
In midfield, Luka Modric has been rotated frequently since the World Cup. The Croatian has started on the bench in two of Real Madrid’s last four games. Yet, he has always been one to step up on the big nights and should play right from the start.
Modric will undoubtedly be joined by Toni Kroos in the midfield. The German icon is one of Ancelotti’s most indispensable players and will look to control the tempo of the game as he usually does.
The final piece in the midfield unit will be Aurelien Tchouameni. Over the past year, the 23-year-old has shown the mentality and calmness to operate at the highest level for both club and country.
Real Madrid enjoyed a special night midweek, putting four goals past a helpless Al Ahly. All three starting forwards were on the scoresheet, giving the manager no reason to consider any changes.
Vinicius Jr will, thus, start on the left wing once more in the final. Federico Valverde tormented the Egypt-based side’s defence with his tenacious runs in the last game and will hold into his starting spot. The final name on the sheet will be Rodrygo who has silently been one of Real Madrid’s players of the season.
Karim Benzema may not be fit to start, but one cannot keep the Ballon d’Or winner away from a final for long. He could come on in the second half in place of Rodrygo.
Dani Ceballos has turned around his situation at Real Madrid with a good run of form and could replace Modric to improve the tempo of the game. Another valuable resource at Ancelotti’s disposal is Nacho Fernandez, especially given that Alaba may not be fit to complete the ninety minutes.
Two offbeat options for the manager are Sergio Arribas and Marco Asensio. The participation of the duo will entirely depend on the match situation and the demand for goals.
Bellingham, Brahim start in a 4-4-2: How Real Madrid could line up against Granada
Having reclaimed the top spot in the La Liga table last weekend, Real Madrid will be eager to consolidate their position when they host Granada at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
Real Madrid are currently on a four-game winning streak across all competitions, having beaten SC Braga, Valencia, Cadiz, and more recently Napoli.
Despite the spate of injuries affecting the squad, Carlo Ancelotti & co. have found a way to keep the winning momentum going and will be eager to bag another victory at home tomorrow.
Granada, meanwhile, find themselves at the opposite end of the table, but there could be a case of the new-manager bounce, for they recently replaced Paco Lopez with Alexander Medina as their head coach.
Real Madrid go into the game without Thibaut Courtois, Eder Militao, Arda Guler, Aurelien Tchouameni, Eduardo Camavinga, Luka Modric, and Vinicius Jr., all of whom are injured.
Here’s how Ancelotti could set his team up at the Santiago Bernabeu when they take on Granada tomorrow.
Kepa Arrizabalaga is fit again and has been included in the Real Madrid squad list to face Granada after missing the last four matches. However, Andriy Lunin will again be preferred in goal tomorrow, as was confirmed by manager Ancelotti during his presser.
Ancelotti has a decision to make his team selection as tomorrow’s game could be a good chance for him to rotate. At the same time, with no midweek fixture coming up, the Italian could be tempted to stick with his strongest XI.
As such, the Real Madrid manager could continue with the centre-back pairing of Antonio Rudiger and David Alaba, while Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy should take up the full-back positions on the right and left sides, respectively.
Since the injuries to Camavinga and Tchouameni, Toni Kroos has operated in the pivot midfield position, albeit with support from Federico Valverde. Meanwhile, Dani Ceballos will get another starting opportunity in the injury-enforced absence of Modric.
Jude Bellingham is fit and ready to play despite an injury scare during training earlier today. The 20-year-old Englishman will start in his usual role as the attacking midfielder and pose a threat to the opposition backline.
Ancelotti opted to partner Brahim Diaz with Rodrygo Goes in the attacking department against Napoli earlier this week. Given how the two performed, the manager is unlikely to tinker with the pairing.
Real Madrid Predicted Lineup: Lunin, Carvajal, Rudiger, Alaba, Mendy, Kroos, Valverde, Ceballos, Bellingham, Brahim, Rodrygo.
Carlo Ancelotti will turn to Joselu to reinforce the attacking department during the game, while young Nico Paz is likely to get more minutes again after scoring his first senior goal for Real Madrid against Napoli.
Captain Nacho Fernandez is likely to come onto the pitch to provide some relief to one of the two centre-backs during the latter stages of the contest. Fran Garcia could replace Ferland Mendy.
Young forward Gonzalo Garcia is another academy talent who could be in for some minutes on Saturday.