After beating Al Jazira 2-1 on Wednesday, Real Madrid are back in action against Brazilian side Gremio on Saturday. Real absolutely dominated Al Jazira in possession in shots, but were kept goalless in the first half thanks to their keeper Ali Khasif. A stunner in the late minutes of the first half found Real trailing for the first time in the Club World Cup. 2 goals in the second half of action, including one from a returning Gareth Bale, were the difference in the match.
Gremio, in their match against Pachuca, just barely won. A 95th minute goal from substitute Everton (not the English club) was what put Gremio over the opposing Mexican side. On paper, just like against Al Jazira, Real should be the favorite in this match. But, as we know, things haven’t exactly panned out this way all season.
Gremio play a 4-2-3-1 style, which means they will be looking to catch Real on the counter-attack. Real struggled with Al Jazira’s counter-attack on Wednesday, which is how they scored their lone goal. The defense can’t afford to let Gremio intimidate them on the counter, they have to be on their A game.
Should Real prevail in this match, it will leave them tied with Barcelona with 3 Club World Cup championships. It will also see them defend their title with a relatively similar squad. As always, don’t underestimate the opposing side.
Neither club has released their official rosters for this match at the time of writing, but they should be fairly similar to both of their semi-final squads.
Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema
There’s a few possibilities here for Zidane to try in this match. After Achraf Hakimi started in Wednesday’s semi-final, Carvajal could slot back in for the Final. Ramos also may re-join the lineup after Nacho replaced him in the semis. Asensio or Kovacic could also be in the starting XI, but Casemiro will probably start again.
The big one here is whether or not Zidane starts Bale. If Zidane doesn’t want to risk Bale re-injuring himself again, Isco will start. If Bale is indeed 100% for sure this time, the BBC could be reunited once more. Besides the possibility of an injury to Bale, Isco played really well on Wednesday. He had two great cross-pass assists on both waved off goals in the first half. Another reason to sit Bale could be that he’s worked well coming off the bench, that’s when he seems to score most now.
Expect Isco, Kovacic, and Asensio to come off the bench if this is indeed the starting lineup that Zidane rolls with.
Gremio will still be without their 21-year-old star midfielder Arthur, who is now being linked with Real and Barcelona by some outlets. They will most likely have the same starting lineup for the Final.
Marcelo Grohe; Edilson, Geromel. Kannemann, Bruno Cortez; Jailson, Michel; Ramiro, Luan, Fernandinho; Barrios
2-0 Real Madrid-Gremio
Real struggled to get goals on Al Jazira with all the shots they had, but that was in large part to Ali Khasif’s first half wizardry. Real could struggle yet again to get goals on the Brazilian side in the Final. While I wouldn’t expect Marcelo Grohe to put up a similar performance, you never quite know with this Madrid club. The score could be much bigger than 2 goals if Real can find their scoring touch.
HOW TO WATCH, STREAM CLUB WORLD CUP
Time: 18:00 CET, 12:00pm EST, 9:00am Pacific.
Venue: Zayed Sport City Stadium, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates