Bayern Munich take on Al-Ahly on Monday in the semi-final of the FIFA Club World Cup at the Al Rayyan Stadium in Qatar.
Bayern Munich players will get an early glimpse of the new Al Rayyan Stadium as they visit Qatar to face Al Ahly in the semi-final of the FIFA Club World Cup. The stadium was inaugurated a couple of months ago and is set to play a pivotal part in the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup, giving some of the Bayern players the ideal opportunity to experience playing football in Qatar.
The club’s immediate focus, however, will be on the game as they look to seal a ticket for the final, which is going to be played at Education City, another key venue for the World Cup 2022. The Bavarians are the undisputed favourites, having found their rhythm with five back-to-back wins, after an unconvincing start to the campaign.
Their opponents Al-Ahly, meanwhile, are the defending champions in Egypt. They are one of the biggest clubs in Africa, notably securing the CAF Champions League last season. They have won the competition nine times overall, along with 42 Egyptian league titles – making them one of the most successful clubs in the continent.
However, they pale in comparison against Bayern, who are the reigning European champions and have been hugely successful in the Bundesliga. But given the pedigree of the two clubs in their respective continents, this promises to be a fascinating encounter in this FIFA Club World Cup semi-final on Monday.
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A potential win for Bayern Munich on Monday could see them play again on Friday, in the final of the competition. So, Hansi Flick will have to be careful regarding his team selection, with the German particularly having one eye on the important Bundesliga matchup against Arminia Bielefeld next Monday.
Bayern’s travelling contingent to Doha included a host of young players while the team is expected to have just one training session before the game. It appears Flick could fancy making some chops and changes to the side that faced Hertha Berlin on cold snow on Friday, with Marc Roca, for one, tipped to replace Joshua Kimmich in central midfield.
The Germans are still without Leon Goretzka or Javi Martinez, so Roca is set to operate in the holding midfield slot, looking to provide some assurance in possession. A game against the African champions Al Ahly could give him an ideal opportunity to showcase his quality after a rusty start to his career in the Bundesliga.
Other changes in the side should see Bouna Sarr, Jerome Boateng and Alphonso Davies making their way back into the starting eleven, as far as the defensive unit is concerned. It will be interesting to see how Sarr performs after falling down the pecking order in recent months.
There could also be a spot in the team for Jamal Musiala and Douglas Costa while Flick could use this opportunity to give Corentin Tolisso some game-time after the Frenchman was out for a few weeks. Serge Gnabry may operate as the number nine as well, with Bayern likely to hand Robert Lewandowski a breather on Monday.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Sarr, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Roca, Tolisso; Sane, Musiala, Costa; Gnabry
Despite being the defending champions of the CAF Champions League, Al Ahly are major underdogs heading into this game. There is a gulf of difference in quality between the two sides, and playing with possession will not be an option for Pitso Mosimane’s side in this fixture.
The South African head coach primarily favours a 4-2-3-1 but could adopt a more defensive approach on Monday. In fact, it won’t be surprising to see the likes of Mohamed Hany, Badr Benoun, Ayman Ashraf and Ali Maaloul to play deep and invite the pressure while providing cover for goalkeeper and club captain Mohamed El Shenawy.
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The deep defensive line should see Al Ahly primarily rely on counters, where the pace and trickery of Hussein El Shahat and Taher Mohamed could be crucial. They will look to take advantage of Bayern’s high line of press and make runs in behind the backline.
Hence, the midfielders like Hamdi Fathi, Amr Soleya and even playmaker Afsha could be equally important in providing those balls over the top as the Egyptians look to make use of Boateng’s lack of pace. Their attack, meanwhile, will be spearhead by Walter Bwalya, though Mohamed Sherif is also an option.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): El Shenawy; Hany, Benoun, Ashraf, Maaloul; Fathi, Soleya; El Shahat, Afsha, Mohamed; Bwalya
- In Friday’s narrow win over Hertha Berlin, Bayern Munich’s star striker Robert Lewandowski failed to score in a Bundesliga match for the first time in 2021.
- Al Ahly are unbeaten in the Egyptian top flight this season but are still trailing Zamalek by two points at the top of the league table, though they do have a game in hand.
- Including this match, five of Al Ahly’s seven next games come in cup competitions – shared between FIFA Club World Cup, CAF Supercup and CAF Champions League.
- Manuel Neuer is in top form for Bayern Munich heading into this game, having kept a clean sheet in three of the last five matches. He has recently beaten the legendary Oliver Kahn’s record of registering more clean sheets in the Bundesliga.
- Bayern are playing in their second Club World Cup. The tournament did not take place in the year they won the 2000/01 Champions League.
Player to Watch
Jamal Musiala's stats this season so far!
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Jamal Musiala is definitely the one to keep an eye on this weekend as the youngster looks to impress Hansi Flick with yet another solid display in the final third.
It will be interesting to see where Musiala gets deployed, with Flick facing a number of selection dilemmas heading into this game. He is mainly tipped to feature in the number ten position, alongside either Thomas Muller or Corentin Tolisso.
The young playmaker, who is already on the radars of some of England’s top clubs, has already raised a lot of eyebrows, notably becoming the club’s youngest scorer earlier in the campaign. His versatility, ball progression and link-up play in the final third could thus be useful for FC Bayern as they look to settle the tie early.
Bayern Munich 2-1 Al Ahly
Bayern Munich have done extremely well in recent weeks and are the undisputed favourites in the FIFA Club World Cup tie. However, things won’t be easy against an Al Ahly side, who have nothing to lose and could thus throw everything at them, in an attempt to seal one of the famous victories in the club’s history. We are predicting a narrow 2-1 win for FC Bayern.