Real Madrid attackers Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio look set to miss Wednesday's Club World Cup semifinal against Kashima Antlers after neither was able to take a full part in training in Abu Dhabi on Monday evening.
Madrid's entire squad flew out Sunday to the UAE to begin preparation for a tournament they have won in three of the last four years, including Bale who missed Saturday's 1-0 La Liga win over Rayo Vallecano at the Bernabeu due to an ankle problem. Karim Benzema [ankle] and Asensio [thigh] also left that game with new injury issues.
Benzema was able to take part in training with his teammates at New York University's Abu Dhabi campus on Monday evening, but Asensio left the session quickly after testing his sensations in the affected muscle.
Holding midfielder Casemiro and left-back Sergio Reguilon both took a full part and could make their returns after recent injury absences in Wednesday's semi, but utility defender Nacho Fernandez and back-up centre-forward Mariano Diaz are unavailable despite making the trip to the UAE.
Wednesday's game at the Zayed Sports City Stadium is a repeat of the 2016 CWC final, when the Japanese team were 2-1 up with an hour played, but a Cristiano Ronaldo hat trick helped Los Blancos to lift the trophy after extra-time.
"Any trophy we play for we want to win, so this is an important competition for us," Bale told RMTV ahead of this year's trip.
The Welsh galactico was also less than 100 percent fit in the run-up to the 2017 tournament, but entered off the bench to score a dramatic late winner as Madrid completed a come from behind 2-1 victory against hosts Al Jazira.