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Real Madrid Leave For Club World Cup

Real Madrid’s squad set off for the Club World Cup as they gear up for Wednesday’s semi-final against Japanese side Kashima Antlers.

Santiago Solari’s side quickly put Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano behind them as they boarded their private plane to the United Arab Emirates.

Madrid face Antlers for the second time in three seasons, having beaten them 4-2 after extra time in the 2016 Club World Cup final.

Tournament hosts Al Ain and Copa Libertadores champions River Plate are the other sides left in the competition.

After a difficult season so far, Madrid will be well aware that they often find their rhythm in the second half of the season when trophies are on the line.

The mood in the squad appeared jovial on Sunday as Sergio Ramos, Gareth Bale and Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric posed for selfies with Emirates’ air hostesses.

Victory at home on Saturday saw Madrid rise to third in La Liga, closing the gap on city rivals Atletico Madrid to two points.

League leaders Barcelona travel to Levante on Sunday evening knowing a win can take them five clear of both Real.

Solari has not looked to take the opportunity to leave his biggest stars at home as Ramos, Bale, Modric, Marcelo, Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Marco Asensio all made the trip.

Madrid are huge favourites to win the entire tournament with many expecting a final clash between themselves and River Plate.

After the debacle of the Copa Libertadores second leg, River Plate eventually took the title inside Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu home.