Real Madrid have come off a tough January run and despite showing signs of vast improvement against Valencia, circumstances have swung against them too.
The Valencia match saw Karim Benzema and Eder Militao, two of their most important outfield players, fall to injury. Ahead of their clash with Real Mallorca on Sunday, Thibaut Courtois also picked up a knock, before Real Madrid lost 1-0 to the islanders. Barcelona duly extended the gap at the top of La Liga to eight points.
Next up for Real Madrid are Al Ahly, Egyptian champions and runners-up in the African Champions League. As Wydad Casablanca, champions of the ACL, are the representatives of Morocco, Al Ahly qualified.
So far they have beaten Auckland City 3-0 and Seattle Sounders 1-0 on their way to the semi-final stage, where they will face Real Madrid on Wednesday at 20:00 CEST for a spot in the final. On the opposite side of the draw, Al Hilal knocked out Wydad, and now face Flamengo in their own semi-final on Tuesday.
As Marca highlight, if Real Madrid struggled against a well-drilled, physical and motivated side in Mallorca, Al Ahly are unlikely to be pushovers for them on Wednesday. The Egyptians will have had extra rest having played on Saturday night and can count on a number of internationals amongst their ranks.
Al Ahly have also conceded just five goals in their 15 league games so far this season, and are yet to taste defeat. The chance to take the scalp of Real Madrid will no doubt inspire them to raise their level too.