February 7, 2023

Real Madrid vs Al Ahly: Benzema ruled out of the Club World Cup semis

By Biodun Busari

Champions League winners, Real Madrid will face the Egyptian club, Al Ahly, without their captain and striker, Karim Benzema in the Club World Cup semi-final match which comes up at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium on Wednesday night.

The 35-year-old did not play in their weekend’s defeat at Mallorca and he was not on the plane with the squad that flew to Morocco on Monday.

It was, however, reported that Benzema may join the Madrid squad in the North African country if they make the final, according to Evening Standard.

Another Madrid player, that is not travelling to the Club World Cup, at least in the first half of the week, is Thibaut Courtois.

Courtois picked up an injury in the warm-up at Mallorca and will be replaced again by Andriy Lunin in Carlo Ancelotti’s XI.

The Ukrainian started the La Liga defeat which saw Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and David Alaba named on the bench ahead of likely returning versus Al Ahly.

Real are dealing with a sizeable injury list already featuring Eder Militao and Ferland Mendy, the left-back set to spend over a month out as he recovers from a thigh issue.

A knee injury will keep Eden Hazard out of the Club World Cup and Lucas Vazquez is also unavailable.

Eduardo Camavinga is set to continue to deputise at left-back unless Nacho Fernandez is picked ahead of the Frenchman, with Rodrygo the preferred candidate to start up front in Benzema’s absence.

Chelsea are the current champions who won 2-1 against Palmeiras in the 2021 final held at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.