The Champions of Europe will be taking on the Champions of Asia, Al Hilal on Wednesday in the Club World Cup semifinals, and while we will certainly be the favorites, you never really know in football. Proper effort will have to be given to ensure we don’t become the first UEFA participant in (the current format of) this event (since 2005) to fail to reach the final, to be held on Saturday.
A squad of 23 — including Thiago Silva and Christian Pulisic, but not Ruben Loftus-Cheek (or any current Academy youngsters) — traveled to Abu Dhabi, though Reece James remains limited to individual fitness drills and Mason Mount has only participated in half a training session thus far. Meanwhile, Édouard Mendy has yet to join up as he celebrates his country’s historic triumph at the Africa Cup of Nations.
There was brief concern about the fitness of Hakim Ziyech and César Azpilicueta as well, following Saturday’s 2-1 win in extra-time over Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup fourth round, but those look to have been mostly unfounded.