Real Madrid lifted the Club World Cup in Morocco on Saturday, less than a fortnight before their trip to Liverpool, but there were flaws on show.
After overcoming Al Ahly in the semi-finals, Real set up a Club World Cup final against Al-Hilal on Saturday night, 10 days before they take on Liverpool in the Champions League.
A busy tournament in Morocco, coming after a mid-season World Cup, may not be the ideal preparation for a side who still have two more LaLiga games before the last-16 opener.
But Real will have been boosted by a 5-3 victory over their Saudi opponents to clinch a fifth Club World Cup trophy.
Vinicius Jr was the star, shining from the left flank with a brace, while Federico Valverde also struck twice and Karim Benzema scored on his return from injury.
However, concerns were rightly raised by Real fans as goalkeeper Andriy Lunin – standing in for the injured Thibaut Courtois – struggled.
Three Shots on Target , All entered, Courtois should heal quick, This Lunin kid can't be trusted
— Twilight (@the_marcoli_boy) February 11, 2023
— M•A•J (@Ultra_Suristic) February 11, 2023
Thibaut Courtois. should play the next match injured over Lunin ? pic.twitter.com/fNlrBGXcYU
— ??? (@Saweezyy) February 11, 2023
Al-Hilal only had three shots on target and scored with all three of them, with ex-Porto striker Moussa Marega firing once and one-time Fulham loanee Luciano Vietto beating Lunin twice.
There were also issues raised with the centre-back pairing of Antonio Rudiger and David Alaba – himself only recently returned from injury – along with makeshift left-back Eduardo Camavinga.
Still, there will be plenty for Jurgen Klopp and his analysts to worry about as they prepare for the first knockout game of this season’s Champions League.
Real are currently second in LaLiga, albeit eight points behind leaders Barcelona, and prior to a 1-0 loss to Real Mallorca ahead of the Club World Cup had won four of their last five in an unbeaten run.
Two victories in Morocco, along with another trophy, will have lifted spirits, too, however manager Carlo Ancelotti will be eager for the return of Courtois.
It remains to be seen whether the Belgian, who effectively decided the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real last May, will be fit for the trip to Anfield on February 21.