This season has not been going as well as the previous campaign for title-holders Al-Jazira, who are fourth in the UAE Pro-League and six points behind leaders Al Wasl with just four wins from 10 games.
Al-Jazira are coached by Dutchman Henk ten Cate, who was Frank Rijkaard’s assistant at Barcelona from 2003 to 2006 and first-team boss at Ajax and Panathinaikos subsequently. Unusually for a Pro-League club the squad is made up mostly of national players but they do possess some Brazilian flair in the shape of Romarinho and also have a familiar face for Madrid on the books, former Real midfielder Lassana Diarra.
Since its formation in 1974 as the result of a merger between Khalidiyah and Al Bateen, Al-Jazira have won two league titles, one UAE League Cup, one UAE Federation Cup, three UAE President’s Cups and the GCC Champions League.
The coach: Ten Cate
After his spells at Barcelona and Ajax, the 63-year-old tactician has coached in China, Qatar and the UAE, among others, where he has always remained faithful to the Dutch school of football, which he employed to lead Al-Jazira to the title last season. Previously, Ten Cate won domestic cups with Ajax and MTK Budapest but the Club World Cup could be considered the pinnacle of his career as a first-team manager.
The star: Romarinho
The former Corinthians forward has scored in a Copa Libertadores final and had a prolific spell at El Jaish in Qatar before joining Al-Jazira this year. One of the undoubted stars of the side, Romarinho (no relation to Romário) is a skilful attacking player who likes to take defenders on. He has bagged three goals so far this season and provided three assists and will pose the chief creative threat to Real Madrid on Wednesday in support of out-and-out striker Ali Mabkhout, who arrives in excellent form having scored five in his last three Pro-League appearances.