Real Madrid will take on J1 League club Kashima Antlers in the Club World Cup, a club Real defeated in this same tournament in 2016. Real have been rushed to the final four of this tournament after winning the Champions League last season. Kashima finished 3rd in J1, with the Japanese season already coming to a close. They advanced to this semi-final after defeating Liga MX club Chivas.
Real are chasing their third Club World Cup title in as many seasons, much like the Champions League last season. It was Kashima that Real defeated to win the first Club World Cup title in these series of victories.
This is the club’s first chance to purse and potentially win some gold this season, as the final takes place this Saturday. But first, Real must defeat Kashima on Wednesday at the ZSC Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Real should have some momentum coming in after defeating Vallecano over the weekend.
Real Madrid will still be without Nacho and likely Mariano for this match. Bale missed the Vallecano match due to an ankle injury, he’s still questionable for this match. Benzema also went off with an apparent injury, but both he and Bale are in training and should play, according to MARCA. Also according to MARCA, Asensio was also training before stepping out, so he is still questionable as well.
Kashima will be without Kento Misao and Yuma Suzuki, who were both out against Chivas. They also remain without Itsuki Oda, Atsutaka Nakamura, and Yukitoshi Ito, who all have long-term injuries.
Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Llorente, Kroos; Vazquez, Bale, Benzema
This could be a match Solari lets Navas start, but there’s no real indication Solari wants to make the switch from Courtois.
Since this is a tournament semi-final, Solari will likely go with most of the first-team squad. The obvious question is how he rotates Casemiro and Llorente, as Casemiro appears ready to be back in action fully. Llorente has played very well in Casemiro’s absence, so the decision is indeed a tough one.
If Benzema and Bale are set to start, them there’s no real question who starts up top. With Asensio likely out, the decision to start Vazquez is simple.
Kwon; Uchida, Jeong, Shoji, Yamamoto; Endo, Nagaki, Silva, Leandro; Doi, Serginho
Real Madrid-Kashima Antlers 3-1
It’s quite unpredictable how Real Madrid will match up against Kashima this time around. Antlers can score goals, they scored twice against back in the 2016 match as well. And Real have been rather shaky at certain points this season. If they do struggle with Kashima’s offense, Real will have to make sure they can find their offense, which has also been a struggle this season.
If most of the first team does start, Real are the favorites for this semi-final. They need to be able to contain Kashima and certainly not take them lightly because of their goalscoring abilities. Should be an interesting match and hopefully one where Real can advance to the final to capture an early trophy.