Our prediction for this FIFA Club World Cup match:
Real Madrid kick off their 2018 FIFA Club World Cup campaign with a match against Kashima Antlers. Los Blancos are on a quest to defend their trophy, but the J-League side should not be written off just yet. The good news for Real Madrid fans is that Tony Kroos and Marcelo have recovered from their respective injuries, but both Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale are rated doubtful for Wednesday’s football match. Kashima did well to beat Persepolis in the AFC Champions League final and they surely want to give fans yet another reason for celebration. Seeing that Real Madrid have been struggling to find their best form in the first half of the season, we predict that the winner will be decided after extra-time. When the two teams met at the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup Real Madrid defeated Kashima 4-2 in the extra-time.
Highlighted Player (Thibaut Courtois):
Born on 11 May 1992, Thibaut Courtois is a very talented Belgian goalkeeper who plays for Chelsea. Courtois began his senior football career at Genk, but after spending two seasons at Cristal Arena, he joined Chelsea in 2011.
The club chiefs decided to send him on loan to Atletico Madrid, but seeing that Courtois impressed during his spell with the La Liga team, Jose Mourinho confirmed in June, 2014 that the Belgian goalkeeper would return to Chelsea for the 2014/2015 campaign. Thibaut Courtois helped Chelsea win the Premier League trophy in 2015, but the general impression is that he had performed much better while at Atletico Madrid. He won the La Liga title in the 2013/2014 season, while lifting the UEFA Europa League trophy in 2012.
Two years later Courtois participated in the Champions League final, but Real Madrid proved to be a big catch for Atletico Madrid. Speaking of his individual awards, Thibaut Courtois was named the La Liga Goalkeeper of the Year (2013).
Highlighted Team (Kashima):
Kashima Antlers are regarded as the most successful Japanese football club. Kashima founded back in 1947, but they won their first J-League title in 1996. Ten years later they clinched their eight domestic trophy, with the team finishing the first stage of the 2016 season one point clear of Kawasaki Frontale.
As a result, the Antlers qualified for the 2016 FIFA World Cup. Kashima play their home matches at Kashima Soccer Stadium and the capacity of the venue is 40.728. The stadium was opened in May, 1993 and it 2002 the venue hosted three FIFA World Cup games (Argentina vs Nigeria, Germany vs Republic of Ireland and Italy vs Croatia). Kashima’s home colours are dark blue and red, while the team play their away games in white shirts and white shorts.
Famous Brazilian player and a coach Zico was in charge of the club in 1999 and former Schalke full-back Atsuto Uchida is one of the most notable footballers who played for Kashima in the past.