Why Club World Cup triumph can rejuvenate Real Madrid

Real Madrid endured a troubled Matchday 20, falling to a 1-0 defeat against Mallorca and losing ground in the title race.

Rivals Barcelona responded by sinking Sevilla 3-0 to extend their lead at the top of the table to eight points, putting them firmly in the driving seat for a 27th LaLiga title.

However, Ancelotti’s side must now turn their attentions to the Club World Cup and a semi-final clash against Egyptian Premier League side Al Ahly at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Morocco.

This match-up could be an opportunity for the Real Madrid boss to experiment mid-season and spring a storming resurgence.

We used the Twenty3 toolbox to analyse what has gone wrong in the Spanish capital – and how this competition could rejuvenate them.

Club World Cup launch pad

The Club World Cup gives Real Madrid an opportunity to revitalise their squad – lifting the trophy would certainly boost their confidence.

Opponents Al Ahly overcame MLS side Seattle Sounders by scoring an 88th-minute winner, with Mohamed Magdy’s volley deflecting into the bottom corner to book their spot in the semi-finals.

They will face a Los Blancos squad that excludes both Thibaut Courtois and Karim Benzema, with the club in no rush to bring either back as they recover from injury.

Despite these omissions, they remain the overwhelming favourites to win, last lifting the trophy in 2018 when they beat Al Ain 4-1 in the final.

Ancelotti will be hoping to use this competition as a launch pad for the remainder of the season.

Defensive doubts

Real Madrid have struggled defensively this term, with injuries to key players – such as Eder Militao – and a lack of individual form taking their toll. 

The heroics of Courtois have only been able to mask so much, and he is now battling to recover from an injury he sustained during the warm-up against Mallorca.

This season they have conceded 17 goals from an expected goals against tally of 19.94 – the sixth-lowest in LaLiga. 

That is by no means good enough for a side with title aspirations, particularly given the Blaugrana have shipped just seven goals and an xGA of 11.

Full-back failings

Full-back, in particular, has become a problem area. 

Dani Carvajal is suffering from a lack of form and Ferland Mendy has been ruled out for a minimum of two months with a thigh injury, while Lucas Vazquez joins him on the treatment table.

Joao Cancelo would have been a remarkable addition, considering his immediate impact at Bayern Munich. However, Real Madrid reportedly turned down the chance to secure his services as they were happy with the squad.

The success of Eduardo Camavinga as a makeshift left-back has been a pleasant surprise for Ancelotti, and continuing to develop him in that position against Al Ahly appears likely.

In his past three games at full-back, the France international has racked up more interceptions (13), defensive duels won (21) and ball recoveries (36) than any of his team-mates.

Moreover, during this spell, he has struck up a good relationship with Vinicius Junior, providing the Brazilian with added freedom in attack.

His talents are arguably wasted at left-back, but with options few and far between, Ancelotti looks to have stumbled upon an effective solution.

Benzema or bust

Real Madrid have scored 40 goals in LaLiga, second to Barcelona, although eight of those have come from the penalty spot, which is seven more than the league leaders.

Unsurprisingly, Los Blancos are heavily reliant on the talents of Ballon d’Or winner Benzema in attack.

In his 1,141 league minutes, he has scored nine goals, with three coming from the penalty spot. 

On top of his goalscoring threat, he has registered 12 key passes and assisted 25 shots, which ranks second among Real Madrid players.

Unfortunately for Los Blancos, the Frenchman has struggled for fitness, and the lack of adequate cover in his absence has been glaring.

Rodrygo has shown flashes of quality, although he is not a pure goalscorer, with just four goals in the league. Marco Asensio, meanwhile, has not kicked into gear at all, netting only twice.

Federico Valverde has been deployed on the right wing and started the season on fire, scoring six and assisting two, but he has not found the back of the net since October.

Finally, Mariano Díaz is out of favour, having played just 81 minutes across five LaLiga appearances, failing to contribute any goals or assists in that time.

Only Vinicius has provided genuine support for Benzema in the final third. 

This term, he has scored seven and assisted three, with no LaLiga player having taken more touches inside the opposition box than the Brazilian (105).

However, he has also become increasingly targeted by opponents, who are happy to resort to fouls in order to disrupt him.

Without the support of injured club captain Benzema, Los Blancos were unable to break a stubborn Mallorca side down.

The Frenchman will be absent against Al Ahly as well, meaning Vinicius will have to take up the mantle of main man once again.

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