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Preview: Palmeiras vs. Al Ahly - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Palmeiras vs. Al Ahly - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Club World Cup clash between Palmeiras and Al Ahly, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Palmeiras begin their quest for Club World Cup glory with a semi-final clash against Egyptian giants Al Ahly at the Al Nahyan Stadium on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, Pitso Mosimane's side made it this far after seeing off Mexico's Monterrey in the first round, being rewarded with a tie against the Copa Libertadores champions as a result.

Match preview

Starting as they mean to go on in 2022, Palmeiras have made an expected solid start to domestic proceedings in the New Year and travel to the Middle East having taken 10 points from their opening four fixtures in this year's Campeonato Paulista A1.

Abel Ferreira's men welcomed Agua Santa to the Allianz Parque on February 1 and ran out 1-0 winners as Dudu's 26th-minute strike settled the contest, with Palmeiras seeking to avenge last season's defeat to Sao Paulo in the final before Serie A takes centre stage once more.

Palmeiras may have fallen to Atletico Mineiro's superiority in the Brasileiro last season, but by marching to their second successive Copa Libertadores title - seeing off Flamengo 2-1 in the final of the 2021 edition after extra time - a shot at intercontinental glory awaits.

Making just their second appearance at the Club World Cup, Palmeiras need no added incentive to get one over Al Ahly after being beaten to a podium finish by their opponents last term, and conceding just one goal from their opening four games of the season is certainly a positive sign.

A six-game domestic winless streak did not exactly set up Al Ahly well before the first whistle blew at the Club World Cup, but Mosimane's men managed to upset the odds slightly by booking their spot in the semis courtesy of a 1-0 success.

A winner from an unlikely source in right-back Mohamed Hany ended the Egyptian giants' winless run as they bid to make the final of the Club World Cup for the very first time, and while they are hardly inexperienced at this tournament, a pair of bronze medals is all they have to show for their efforts thus far.

Seeing off the Copa Libertadores champions will be a tall order for the 42-time Egyptian title winners, who have not managed to score more than one goal in a game since November, but Palmeiras do not have fond memories of the two sides' most recent meeting.

Indeed, Al Ahly prevailed 3-2 on penalties over Palmeiras to clinch third place at the Club World Cup last year - with a familiar name in Felipe Melo missing the decisive spot kick - but the Brazilian powerhouses will be in no mood to demonstrate such a lack of ruthlessness here.

Palmeiras form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W

Al Ahly Club World Cup form:
  • W

Al Ahly form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • W

Team News

Nineteen-year-old centre-back Henri is the only injury concern for Palmeiras at this moment in time, with the Brazilian still recovering from his devastating tibia and fibula fracture.

Ferreira otherwise boasts a full complement of players for this battle, several of whom will endeavour to attract glances from clubs across Europe ahead of a potential meeting with Chelsea.

Midfielders Danilo and Patrick de Paula are sure to be watched with close intent during the tournament, although the latter was an unused substitute during the win over Agua Santa.

As for Al Ahly, Ali Lotfi continues to act as the last line of defence with Mohamed El Shenawy, while Mosimane also saw emergency defender Mohamed El Maghraby taken off injured in the win over Monterrey.

Karim Fouad may therefore be drafted into the back three this week, and Al Ahly remain without a raft of Egypt internationals due to the Africa Cup of Nations final, which is yet to take place at the time of writing.

It is highly unlikely that any of the internationals will be ready to return in time for Tuesday's game, while ex-Brighton & Hove Albion man Percy Tau will miss out through injury.

Palmeiras possible starting lineup:
Lomba; Rocha, Luan, Gomez, Jorge; Danilo, Ze Rafael; Dudu, Veiga, Scarpa; Rony

Al Ahly possible starting lineup:
Lotfi; Fouad, Ibrahim, Rabia; Heny, Dieng, Afsha, Maaloul; Abdelkader, Shahat; Mohamed

We say: Palmeiras 2-0 Al Ahly

Al Ahly are not to be underestimated by Palmeiras - especially considering what went down at last year's Club World Cup - but a depleted squad could very well work against them here.

Ferreira is working with a wealth of youthful talent who will be determined to make a name for themselves on the international stage, so we expect Palmeiras to march onto the final with relative ease.

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