Tokyo (AFP) – Real Madrid’s early birds swept into Tokyo at the crack of dawn Monday to contest the Club World Cup and were greeted by hundreds of bleary-eyed Japanese fans.
The European champions, led by talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, arrived a little after 5am local time and, despite the presence of around 300 supporters waiting for their idols to appear, were quickly ushered onto a team bus by security officials.
Sporting dapper dark suits, Real’s superstar players and French coach Zinedine Zidane smiled and waved as they passed fans — several in team jerseys and some sporting Ronaldo masks — before leaving for their hotel in Yokohama.
The Spanish giants, who beat Deportivo la Coruna at the weekend to set a new club record of 35 games unbeaten in all competitions, face Mexico’s Club America on Thursday for a place in the Club World Cup final.
Zidane was able to rest Ronaldo as the La Liga table-toppers battled to a 3-2 victory, thanks to a late winner from captain Segio Ramos.
Real, who are chasing a second world title in three years, are expected to hold a light training session in Yokohama later on Monday.
They will be without Gareth Bale as the Welsh wizard recovers from ankle surgery, but have been boosted by the return of German Toni Kroos after a metatarsal fracture.
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