Club World Cup Finals: Corinthians v Chelsea - Match Preview
European champions Chelsea face off against the South American champions Corinthians in the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan on Sunday. Chelsea’s interim boss Rafa Benitez has already been in the finals of this competition twice before with Liverpool in 2005 and with Inter Milan in 2010 having won once and lost once. He would be hoping to become the second manager after Pep to win this elite trophy for the second time.
Meanwhile, Corinthians have already tasted success in this competition by winning the inaugural Club World Cup in 2000 and would be looking to match up with Barcelona as the only other club to win it for the second time.
Chelsea have cruised their way through to the finals by convincingly beating Mexican side Monterrey 3-1 in the second semifinal on Thursday whereas Corinthians just managed to secure a narrow 1-0 win over African champions Al-Ahly on Wednesday to reach the finals.
Both teams have had a bumpy season this year with Chelsea becoming the first holders to crash out of the UEFA Champions League group stages and are also 10 points behind league leaders Manchester United in the English Premier League. Chelsea’s indifferent form has also been marred by the sacking of their manager Roberto Di Matteo which gives a chance to Benitez to win a silverware within a month after being appointed as the new interim manager. While Corinthians, who won the league last season, have finished 6th this season, 20 points behind the eventual league winners Fluminense.
Corinthians – The Brazilian side, under the leadership of their manager Tite, would be hoping to win this one and make their country proud after the defeats of other clubs in the last two editions (Santos last year and Internacional the year before that). The Corinthians team is tactically sharp and defensively sound, with a high energy pressing game which makes it difficult for their opponents. Tite may go with the same starting XI which won against Al Ahly with a 4-2-2-2 formation.
Predicted Line Up: Cassio; Alessandor, Chicao, Andre, Santos; Ralf, Paulinho; Danilo, Douglas; Emerson, Guerrero.
Current Form: Corininthians – W W D L W
12/12/12 – Al-Alhy 0 – 1 Corinthians
03/12/12 – Sao Paolo 3 – 1 Corinthians
25/11/12 – Corinthians 1 – 1 Santos
19/11/12 – Internacional 0 – 2 Corinthians
11/11/12 – Corinthians 5 – 1 Coritiba Football Club
Chelsea – The Blues finally seem to have found their flow under Benitez with 3 wins in a row and 12 goals in those 3 games. The talking point has been Torres, who has found the net 5 times in the last 3 matches and seems to be rejuvenated under his Spanish compatriot Rafa. It would be interesting to see if the Spaniard gives a start to Lampard or continue with Luiz who impressed with his new role in the midfield alongside Mikel. Another important decision would be whether he starts with the technically gifted Oscar who knows quite a bit about the Brazilian opponents. Or would he decide to play Victor Moses who has impressed with his ability to go past any defense with his burst of explosive pace and his amazing work rate.
Predicted Line Up: Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole; Luiz, Mikel; Oscar, Mata, Hazard; Torres.
Current Form: Chelsea FC – D L W W W
13/12/12 – Monterrey 1 – 3 Chelsea
08/12/12 – Sunderland 1 – 3 Chelsea
05/12/12 – Chelsea 6 – 1 FC Nordsjaelland
01/12/12 – West Ham 3 – 1 Chelsea
28/11/12 – Chelsea 0 – 0 Fulham
Prediction: It’s all about being named the best club in the world and both teams would give it their all. This would be an interesting encounter to watch. Chelsea are clear favorites to become the 2nd English team to win this competition after Manchester United, although Benitez and the team would not like to take the Brazilian side lightly as they are capable of causing an upset.