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Three answers and three questions from Real Madrid’s Club World Cup win

With Real Madrid becoming world champs, there are many interesting talking points to discuss.

Real Madrid v Al Hilal: Final - FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2022 Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Real Madrid are champions of the world! They overcame Al Hilal 5-3, with both teams putting on a show for the fans watching the Club World Cup final in Morocco. With Los Blancos winning another trophy and with Vinícius and Fede Valverde both scoring braces, there’s so much for us to discuss and we do so below in the form of three pre-match questions that were answered and three post-match questions we now need answers to.

Three answers

1. Would Florentino Pérez match Bernabéu’s trophy record?

Ahead of any final, the only question that matters is who becomes champion. For Real Madrid, they usually lift the trophy in a final like this and that was indeed the case. This year’s title is extra significant for one man, though, as Florentino Pérez has equalled Santiago Bernabéu in terms of the number of trophies that Real Madrid have won during their presidencies. Both Pérez and Bernabéu have overseen 31 triumphs at the club, with the current president having celebrated up close six Club World Cups, six Champions Leagues, five UEFA Super Cups, six LaLiga titles, six Spanish Super Cups and two Copas del Rey.

2. Could Fede Valverde build on Wednesday’s goal?

On our live Zoom podcast following the Al Ahly semi-final win, Kiyan and I spoke about how Fede Valverde’s goal might be a turning point in his season, following a month of poor form following the World Cup. We even said that it wouldn’t at all be a surprise for the Uruguayan to go on and score in the final, hitting the 10-goal tally that Carlo Ancelotti had set for him at the start of the season. And, he did exactly that before also adding his 11th goal for good measure. Perhaps tonight’s brace was a result of his extra confidence following Wednesday’s goal. Or, perhaps it was actually because of the good news he’d just received in his personal life, with he and Mina Bonino finding out on Friday that everything is fine with the baby they’re expecting, following reports that they had lost the pregnancy. We have to remember that footballers are human too and that they have their own problems away from the pitch that can impact performance. Let’s keep that in mind the next time a player has a poor run of form. And, for now, let’s just all be delighted for Fede and his family.

3. Would it be a happy birthday for Lunin?

This was set to be an important day in Andriy Lunin’s life for a couple of reasons, firstly because today was his 24th birthday and secondly because he was starting this Club World Cup final. After making some very key saves in the semi-final, how would he do here? Well, not very good. Al Hilal only managed three shots on target in this game, but all three of them were goals, as Lunin couldn’t make a stop. He becomes a world champion on the day of his 24th birthday, but it might be a bittersweet birthday cake for the Ukrainian given the way he performed on an individual level. That’s a shame, considering he really was vital to the semi-final victory.

Three questions

1. Is Vinícius Real Madrid’s new Mr. Finals?

Vinícius was the Man of the Match of this final. Not only did he score two goals, but the Brazilian also produced a super assist for Benzema’s strike. This only adds to his legacy in finals, from his contribution off the bench in his first final back at the 2018 Club World Cup to his winning goal against Liverpool in last year’s Champions League final to this excellent display in Morocco. In total, Vinícius’ record in finals for Real Madrid is three goals and three assists in his seven finals with the club, averaging a direct goal contribution every 77 minutes.

2. How annoyed will Ancelotti be that Real Madrid kept letting Al Hilal back in it?

Although Real Madrid won this final and this tournament, Ancelotti cut a very frustrated figure on the sidelines throughout this match, even throwing his chewing gums on the ground in anger as Real Madrid kept letting Al Hilal back into the game. After the semi-final win, Ancelotti stated that “we thought the game was over at 2-0, we need to be better in that situation”. So, when Valverde smashed in the goal to make it 2-0 tonight, the Italian was seen on the sidelines urging his players to go for a third and to kill the game once and for all. But, they never did kill off Al Hilal, who kept hanging around. So, as much as Ancelotti will be delighted with the trophy and the attacking spectacle his team put together, he’ll surely also be pondering some of the problems of this final on the flight back to Spain.

3. Can Benzema go on to complete a goalscoring sextuple?

Karim Benzema was a doubt to play in this final, but he started and he even scored one and assisted one. The Frenchman’s goal means that he has the chance to do something that no Real Madrid player has ever done before, which is to score in six different competitions over the course of one season. He has now netted in the Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, Spanish Super Cup, LaLiga and Copa del Rey in 2022/23. It’s actually only the Champions League that he hasn’t scored in yet, which is partly explained by the fact he played just 236 minutes in the group stage. If the No.9 manages to score once in the knockout rounds, he’ll have competed his own personal goalscoring sextuple.

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