UAE champions Al Jazira are facing an uphill battle when they take on back to back European Cup winners Real Madrid on Tuesday evening in the semi-finals of the World Club Cup. You can watch all of the action live and exclusive on beIN SPORTS CONNECT.
Sheikh Zayed Stadium is expected to be at close to full capacity for the game, which will see the Arabian Gulf League winners face off against Real in a dream match for local fans. Jazira registered a scrappy 1-0 victory against Auckland City and shocked AFC Champions League Urwa Red Diamonds by the same scoreline to set up a once in a lifetime semi-final tie against Los Blancos.
One injury concern for the hosts will be that of star striker Ali Mabkhout who scored the crucial goal in the win over Urwa, picking up a knock in the process. However, with the opportunity to play Real Madrid on the line last season’s 33 goal man will be doing all he can to be fit ahead of the Tuesday evening tie.
Whilst for boss Henk ten Cate, he has revealed his pride in the efforts of the squad ranking this achievement as one of the biggest in his own seasoned managerial career. “Being here with Al Jazira is probably my biggest thing I did, in the semi-finals of the Club World Cup with a team from the UAE? This is almost something that you cannot imagine. We are here, we are here. And we are proud to be here.”
As for Real Madrid, they are fresh from a 5-0 hammering of Sevilla in La Liga. Zinedine Zidane has brought a strong squad for the World Club Cup and is expected to field a strong side for the match against Jazira.
That could mean a start for club captain Sergio Ramos, who missed last Sunday's tie against his former club through suspension. Whilst Gareth Bale and Raphael Varane did train with the squad on Tuesday evening.
Having won the World Club Championship last season, Real did struggle in the final match against hosts Kashima Antlers before eventually winning 4-2. Heading into the match, Real boss Zinedine Zidane insisted that his side must be at full concentration for the tie against the UAE Champions.
“We have a semi-final against an opponent that everybody says is going to be an easy match for us. If we think so we will be wrong because we don’t think it’s going to be easy.”
“On the contrary, we think it will be hard. We have to be very well concentrated, very well prepared and that is what we’re trying to do lately.”
You can watch all the action from the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup live and exclusive on beIN SPORTS CONNECT.