The two top-seeded teams at the 2022 FIFA Club World Cup are set to clash in the final as Chelsea looks for revenge against Brazilian side Palmeiras on Saturday in Abu Dhabi.
Chelsea last reached the final of the Club World Cup in 2012 and fell to another Brazilian side, Corinthians, leaving the Blues without this particular trophy in its case.
In fact, the Club World Cup is the only major trophy that Chelsea has not won since Roman Abramovich purchased the club in 2003.
“It was my first season [with Chelsea],” said captain Cesar Azpilicueta in his pre-match press conference. Azpilicueta, now in his 10th year with the club and playing on a contract expiring in the summer, would love to make amends for that match, which Chelsea lost 1-0 on a goal by Peruvian international Paolo Guerrero.
“We were in every competition, maybe it looked like it was easier than it is,” said Azpilicueta. “And then with time you realize how difficult it is, first of all to qualify in the Premier League for the Champions League, and then go all the way to win that, and then to be here.”
That 2012 defeat represents the last time the European representative did not take home the Club World Cup title.
Palmeiras overview & team news
Palmeiras is not a club to be taken lightly. The club, hailing from Sao Paulo, has won the Copa Libertadores two years in a row and is vying this year for a three-peat which only two other clubs in history have accomplished.
It finished third in last season’s Brazilian Serie A table, a highly competitive league, and it’s clearly in the upper echelon of domestic clubs eight points ahead of the fourth-placed team behind it.
The Brazilian club is also quite healthy at the moment, with the team currently prepping for the 2022 Serie A season. Only 19-year-old Henri is missing, having suffered a gruesome tibia and fibula fracture.
The rest of the squad is fit and ready to go, highlighted by goalkeeper Weverton who has appeared seven times for the Brazilian senior national team, now at 34 years old entering his fourth season with the club.
Palmeiras is captained by Paraguay international Gustavo Gomez who spent two years at AC Milan before a 2018 move to Brazil. His center-back partner is Brazilian international Luan who logged over 3,300 minutes across all competitions last season as a fixture in the lineup.
Semifinal scorer, 26-year-old Raphael Veiga, leads the attacking line and is a player who finished last season strong in front of net. He is supported by prolific winger Dudu who bagged the other semifinal goal for his club.
Dudu with this BEAUTIFUL strike to give Palmeiras a 2-0 lead in the opening minutes of the second half 🚀🙌 pic.twitter.com/RrRwGuH1NL
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 8, 2022
Palmeiras deployed a 4-2-3-1 formation against Al Ahly, as they have become accustomed to under Portuguese manager Abel Ferreira, who was in charge of Sporting, Braga, and PAOK before moving to Palmeiras two years ago.
They held just 42 percent possession in the semifinal win, and fouled Al Ahly often, playing forward with long balls (attempting a whopping 81 of them) and hitting on 49 percent of them. Expect more of the same against the Blues
Chelsea overview & team news
Chelsea has sputtered over the past two months, battling on multiple competitive fronts, which has appeared to sap the team of its best form. The Blues have won just twice in its past eight Premier League matches as its title chase has all but evaporated.
Still, Chelsea sits in a good position for securing a Champions League place next season, and remains alive in all other competitions this season both domestic and abroad. The Blues are set for a Wembley outing at the end of the month in the EFL Cup final, they have progressed to the Round of 16 of the FA Cup, and they are looking ahead to a matchup against Lille in the Champions League Round of 16 in addition to the Club World Cup final.
UCL Final ✅
FA Cup Final ✅
EFL Cup FInal ✅
Super Cup Final ✅
Club World Cup Final ✅
It’s only taken Thomas Tuchel 379 days to reach the final of every competition. 😳 pic.twitter.com/eJ2naaEkNd
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) February 9, 2022
For a club with such fixture congestion, the squad health is surprisingly strong. Reece James is not yet back from his long-term hamstring injury, while Ben Chilwell remains sidelined with his torn ACL. Ruben Loftus-Cheek also did not travel to Abu Dhabi, but the rest of the group is available to compete.
Romelu Lukaku has struggled for recent form, but his clunky goal in the semifinal win over Al Hilal will have the Belgian’s confidence building anew.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 9, 2022
Kai Havertz has struggled for time in the crowded Chelsea attack, but his performances have provided significant contributions. American Christian Pulisic only saw the bench in the semifinal and continues to struggle to break into the starting lineup.
Manager Thomas Tuchel has flip-flopped recently between his usual three center back system and a more traditional four-defender lineup, but the team appears to be out of the recent valley and on its way back to its best in his preferred formation.
Original source here
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