Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has a selection headache for the Club World Cup semifinal with Egypt’s Al Ahly on Wednesday as he will be missing several key players due to injury.
Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, forward Karim Benzema and defenders Eder Militao, Lucas Vazquez and Ferland Mendy will not make the trip to Morocco on Monday but the first three may be available for a possible final on Saturday if Madrid advance.
Vazquez and Mendy have been out for several games with long-term injuries but Benzema and Militao, who were substituted with leg injuries in Madrid’s LaLiga win against Valencia on Thursday, are not expected to be sidelined for too long.
Courtois, who suffered a groin injury during the warm-up for Sunday’s surprise defeat at Mallorca, does not have a long-term problem according to medical examinations on Monday.
Courtois, Benzema and Militao will stay in Madrid for treatment but could join their teammates in Rabat later in the week if their treatment goes as planned.
Los Blancos are struggling lately, having won only one of their last three LaLiga matches, allowing Barcelona to extend their lead at the top of the standings to eight points.
Despite all the injuries and a packed schedule over the next few weeks, with the Club World Cup quickly followed by a Champions League clash with Liverpool and Copa del Rey showdown against Barcelona as well as LaLiga matches, coach Carlo Ancelotti said they would go for glory on all fronts.
However, the Italian did urge the authorities to look at fixture scheduling in the future for the sake of player welfare.
“We will not throw any tournaments away, we are very close… In the [Spanish] Cup semifinals, last 16 in Europe, Club World Cup semis,” Ancelotti said last week.
“We don’t ever want to throw matches away… [but] the schedule is just remarkable, it doesn’t stop. LaLiga wants its share, FIFA wants its share, UEFA wants its share, Spanish FA wants its share… They won’t allow us to have a day to rest.
“I get bored when I get days to rest, but the players get tired… We’re always looking forward to fight for every title but we’re going beyond our limits with the schedule as it is. Between all of us we need to do something to avoid this situation.”
The winners of the Madrid-Al Ahly game will in the final face either Brazilian side Flamengo or Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal, who play the second semifinal in Tangier on Tuesday.