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Soccer Africa's Alan Duncan
On Raja Casablanca
 real 28k

Football writer Tim Vickery
On Corinthians
 real 28k

Former Real Madrid coach John Toshack
On Real Madrid
 real 28k

The BBC's John Myers
On Al Nassr
 real 28k

Tuesday, 4 January, 2000, 20:12 GMT
World Clubs start for Real

Nicolas Anelka is hoping to end his goal drought

Real Madrid are favourites to draw first blood in the opening game of the inaugural World Club Championships when they take on Al-Nassr in Sao Paolo, Brazil, on Wednesday.

The Spanish giants are able to field a galaxy of talent, including former Arsenal star Nicolas Anelka, while most pundits would be hard pressed to name any of their Middle Eastern-minnow opponents.

Wednesday 5 January
2045 GMT - Real Madrid v Al-Nassr
2315 GMT - Corinthians v Raja Casablanca
For his part, Anelka will be hoping to open his account against the Saudi Arabians, having failed to score for Real since his record 23m transfer from the Gunners.

Coach Vicente del Bosque has kept faith with the Frenchman and is almost certain to start him on Wednesday.

Despite being hotly tipped to win, Real are unlikely to take the clash lightly.

Defender Fernando Hierro denied that the Al-Nassr players will be more interested in asking for autographs than playing competitive football.

"Such claims are dangerous. They can ask for anything after the match, but making such suggestions at this stage works in their favour," he said.

Al-Nassr Al-Nassr: Not just autograph hunters
"It gives them nothing to lose and it is a strategy whereby they wish to be seen as victims."

Real have had a difficult domestic season so far and will be hoping to put it behind them with a good start at the Morumbi stadium.

Brazilians Roberto Carlos and Savio are likely to start for the Spanish side, as is England's Steve McManaman, who is coming back from injury.

Al-Nassr qualified by winning the 1998 Asian Super Cup and can only call on the talents of one international, despite attempting to sign some world class superstars - including Romario - especially for the occasion.

Meanwhile, the other Group A sides, Corinthians and Moroccans Raja Casablanca, will face each other in the evening match.

Corinthians qualified as champions of the host country and are already well on their way to repeating that feat. They are the bookies choice to win Group A.

Raja Casablanca only qualified at the start of December by beating Tunisian side Esperance in the final of the African Champions League.

Manchester United open their tournament against Necaxa of Mexico on Thursday
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See also:
20 Dec 99 |  World Club Championship
World Club Championship schedule
05 Jan 00 |  Americas
World Championship's own goals
20 Dec 99 |  World Club Championship
Madrid: A Real sense of history
20 Dec 99 |  World Club Championship
Al-Nassr: Arabian adventurers

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