Al-Jazira 1-2 Real Madrid FIFA Club World Cup: match report
Levante - Real Madrid live: LaLiga Santander 2019
Al-Jazira 1-2 Real Madrid: match report
Despite dominating throughout, Madrid trailed at half-time to Romarinho's opener in a match also marred by use of the video assistant referee (VAR) that ruled out a goal for both sides.
Madrid's pressure finally paid off 10 minutes into the second half when Cristiano Ronaldo levelled before Bale broke Al Jazira's resistence with his first touch eight minutes from time.
"It's great to get the goal," Bale told Real Madrid TV. "When you come on you want to make an impact, but the most important thing is to win and be in the final."
Real will go for their fifth trophy of the year when they face Brazilian side Gremio on Saturday.
Bale was making only his second substitute appearance since September due to a series of muscle injuries.
But he showed what Madrid have been missing for most of the season with a calm finish after replacing the profligate Karim Benzema.
Enjoy all the Al Jazira - Real Madrid memes
Al-Jazira vs Real Madrid live stream online: as it happened
Al-Jazira vs Real Madrid live stream online: match preview
Real Madrid start the defence of their Club World Cup title against UAE Pro-League champions Al-Jazira at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi as the firm favourites to go through to Sunday’s final against Grêmio, who saw off Pachuca in Tuesday's first semifinal.
Even Al-Jazira’s coach, Henk ten Cate, does not give his side much hope of causing what would be a major upset but pointed to the sheer dedication and hard work of his players, which saw the local team through games against Auckland City and Urawa Red Diamonds to reach the last four.
Ten Cate spoke of his surprise that Al-Jazira had got this far at the Club World Cup in an interview with AS’ Marco Ruiz: “With this team, no [I didn't expect to be in the semifinals],” the forthright Dutchman said. “There are sides with a lot more quality than us. But what has surprised me is the mentality of my team. They have worked like crazy and the result has been very positive.”
Al-Jazira scored just a single goal in both their previous games and Ten Cate said they will have to take whatever chances come their way against Real Madrid. “We will defend, let Madrid have the ball and wait. A corner, a free-kick, a counter-attack. We’ll have maybe two chances. And if one goes in? Let’s hope so…”
Ten Cate’s squad is made up mostly of national players but Brazilian forward Romarinho provides some flair and in tandem with UAE international Ali Mabkhout forms a forward line that can cause Madrid problems, especially if Zinedine Zidane’s side defend as they did against Málaga. Mabkhout, a one-club man, has bagged 40 international goals and 116 in 196 games for Al-Jazira and if one or both of those chances falls to the 27-year-old Keylor Navas (or Kiko Casilla) will have some work to do.
Ten Cate also had a final word to say about Real Madrid: “They are such a big side… but I think they could play better football.”
With the Clásico on the horizon Zidane may elect to treat the Club World Cup semifinal as more of a Copa del Rey affair and give his fringe players another chance to stake a claim for more playing time.
Gareth Bale is feeling his way back from injury and trained with the squad after their arrival in Abu Dhabi and the Real boss may give him a leg-stretch against Al-Jazira to test the water. Raphael Varane is also back with the squad after a muscle problem but given the proximity of the match against Barcelona he will certainly not be taking any risks with the France international.
It is likely Zidane will elect to field a mixture of regular first-teamers and less-used players in the semifinal at least but Cristiano Ronaldo will definitely be among them as he seeks to move to the top of the all-time Club World Cup scorer’s chart ahead of Luis Suárez, Leo Messi and César Delgado, who are all on five along with the Portuguese.
Ronaldo is also on the cusp, along with Toni Kroos, of becoming the first players to win the competition on four occasions while overall, a victory in Abu Dhabiu will draw Real Madrid level with Barcelona on three Club World Cup triumphs. Motivation will not be lacking, even if it will be necessarily tempered to preserve Zidane’s side for a Liga-defining Clásico encounter on December 23.
Al-Jazira vs Real Madrid live stream online: selected betting odds
Al-Jazira are rank outsiders to do a number on the European champions at 33/1, with Real priced at 1/20 for victory. A 0-0 draw is chalked up at 25/1 and if you fancy Al-Jazira to nick it as they have in the two previous rounds, 1-0 to the home side is priced at 66/1. Ali Mabkhout is 11/1 to open the scoring while Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick is short at 19/5.
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