World Cup UAE: Chelsea eye glory after missing out in 2012


Either South America’s Palmeiras or European side Chelsea will lift their maiden Fifa Club World Cup trophy in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

In 2012, making their tournament debut, Chelsea lost by a lone goal to Brazilian club Corinthians in the final. And after nine years, Palmeiras, yet another Sao Paulo-based outfit, are promising to deny the Uefa champions the only trophy missing from their cabinet.

For the Copa Libertadores champions too, this is their first Cup final after finishing fourth in their only other appearance during the 2020 edition.

In the semis, London-based Chelsea prevailed over Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal and Palmeiras overcame a spirited fight from Egypt’s Al Ahly. And now, the teams are itching to lock horns at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

Chelsea’s assistant coach Zsolt Low pointed out that the squad have improved a lot since the loss suffered in 2012 and were firm favourites to win the final.

“We are aware that the Brazilian teams are very good in the Club World Cup. That game (Corinthians) against Chelsea was a lot of years before. Now we have a different team, coaching team, and I think it is a different game. We want to enter the game with the feeling as the favourite – the champions from Europe,” Low told reporters ahead of the showpiece encounter.

Low noted that the team have made comprehensive video analysis to study as much as possible about their Brazilian opponents.

“We know a lot about Palmeiras. We expect a very difficult game. We expect a lot of Palmeiras fans. This can be again a small away game for us.”

Low pointed out that Palmeiras are a strong squad but Chelsea were well-prepared too.

“Palmeiras are a very emotional team. We see a lot of energy. They have very good technical quality. They are in good shape and form. But we are also strong.”

Separately, in a major boost to ‘The Blues,’ Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel, who missed the earlier match after testing positive for Covid-19, is understood to have landed in the Capital.

Meanwhile, their Brazilian-born Italian midfielder Jorginho said that anything can happen in this close fight.

“We will give everything in trying to get the Cup back home. Chelsea can win this trophy. We need to be focused, humble and prepared to work hard.”

Palmeiras head coach Abel Ferreira said that his players will showcase high-quality performance, right spirit, hard work, bonding, respect and discipline ­— factors that will help the side prevail over Chelsea.

“We are here because of a lot of hard work and dedication. Our goal for this season was to come here and win the final. We have courage, bravery, and combine the players’ talent and hard work to impose our game. We are confident and well-prepared. If we want to be the best, we should beat the best,” Ferreira said and underlined that he wished to see Tuchel on the touchline.

The Portuguese manager said that Chelsea were a versatile team with several different technicalities but not invincible. “Whenever we believe that we really want something, we can achieve it.”

Paraguayan defender and skipper Gustavo Gomez felt that the players were charged up for one of the biggest matches in their lives. “We have prepared as we have too. We will give everything on the pitch.”

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