And that’s a historic moment as Chelsea FC wins the club world cup making it their first time in the history of the club.
Given that the Blues are competing for the right to call themselves world champions, this is a game that requires little introduction. Rick Glanvill, a club historian, and Paul Dutton, a club statistician, provide their predictions for the major match in the Middle East…
The Club World Cup, which concludes on Saturday at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, will see either Chelsea or Palmeiras become the first team in history to win the coveted trophy. This important final does not appear on many players’ resumes because it is generally restricted to clubs that have already won the continental championship in their respective countries.
Defending champions Chelsea make their second appearance in the event a decade after their first, which ended in a painful final in which Corinthians were edged out by Corinthians in December 2012. The Blues have advanced to the finals of the FA Cup, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Carabao Cup, and now this continental extravaganza under current head coach Thomas Tuchel. Our opponents, known as ‘the Palm Trees’ in English, have won the Copa Libertadores for the past two seasons, defeating Flamengo (and Blues player Kenedy) in the final in November of last year. For the time being, the former home of Rivaldo, Cesar Sampaio, and Roberto Carlos has failed to win the global championship, unlike their colleague clubs Corinthians, Internacional, and Sao Paulo.
This will be the fourth time that England and Brazil have faced off in a Club World Cup final. FIFA has ranked Brazil’s national team as the world’s second best, three places ahead of the English national team. While Palmeiras has a greater number of current Selecao players, Chelsea, owing to Thiago Silva, has the same number. They have Weverton under their control.
If the Blues win, they will have won every trophy that has been available since Roman Abramovich purchased the club in July 2003, completing the set. Despite the fact that Chelsea have had one less day to rest than Palmeiras ahead of the tournament’s final match, their strength as a team and the ability to make five substitutions gives Thomas Tuchel the flexibility to make changes on Saturday if the situation demands it.
The Bavarians, who have reunited with their players in the warmth of Abu Dhabi, have a chance to become the third coach from their country to win this prestigious international award.
The Champions League winners dominated the first half of Wednesday’s semi-final against Al Hilal, who represented Asia in the competition. The Saudis produced a late comeback that necessitated a pair of superb stops from goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga in the process. Perhaps they were saving something for the championship game, but they have squandered their current momentum in a number of recent games. Assistant coach Zsolt Low expressed his optimism that the team will be able to play ‘a little bit freer in the final with a better rhythm.’
With Mateo Kovacic (a Real Madrid player who won the Club World Cup in 2016) dominating midfield, Hakim Ziyech’s play regained its swagger, Kai Havertz looked closer to his raiding best, and Romelu Lukaku was back among the goals with the game-winning score. With nine goals in all competitions, the Belgian is currently tied for the team’s top scorer with Jorginho.
Chelsea’s first goal, which propelled them to this point.
After this game, the Londoners will have a free week to rest ahead of their trip to Crystal Palace, so Tuchel is likely to stay with the same personnel and structure. However, fewer errors in possession will be critical against the Brazilians, who are dangerous on the counter.
Despite the fact that Edou Mendy has been training for a few days following his AFCON triumph, Kepa is likely to keep his place in goal, especially given his proficiency in penalty shoot-outs.
Chelsea will look to take advantage of the difference in average height between the two finalists. In the midweek matches, the Brazilians were two inches shorter than the Blues, with both full-backs, central midfielders, and four attackers being around 5ft 7in tall.