The Champions of Europe square off against the champions of South America in this years Club World Cup Final. Chelsea look to become the second English side to win the competition when they come up against Brazilian side Corinthians this Sunday.
Rafael Benitez will become the second manager to win the prestigious award twice, after former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. Meanwhile, Corinthians were champions of this competition in 2000, and look to become the second team to win the tournament, behind FC Barcelona.
Both teams have experienced an indifferent season to last. Chelsea became the first club to fail to reach the knock-out stages of the Champions League after winning the tournament. Whilst Corininthians finished a staggering 20 points behind the eventual winners of the Brazilian league, and ended up finishing sixth.
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This competition has been ideal in Chelsea's season. In the space of two games the Blues have the oppurtunity to win their first piece of silverware this season, whilst being able to avoid the English press after a turbulent Autumn. The Club World Cup has seen Fernando Torres continue his impressive form. The Spaniard has 5 goals in his last 3 games – and although Rafa Benitez is refusing to take any of the credit for his fellow countryman's rise to form – Torres is beginning to look a different player since Benitez's arrival.
Juan Mata has been Chelsea's star player so far this season. The Spaniard has 11 goals in all competitions this season, including the opener in the semi-final. Along with the likes of Oscar and Eden Hazard, Chelsea's attacking trio are finally getting the best out of this current Blues XI, as well as Fernando Torres.
David Luiz was deployed in a defensive midfield role for Chelsea and put it a commanding display, he should be partnered with the impressive John Obi Mikel.
Probable Line Up: Chelsea -
Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole; Luiz, Mikel; Oscar, Mata, Hazard; Torres.
Probable Line Up: Corinthians -
Cassio; Alessandor, Chicao, Andre, Santos; Ralf, Paulinho; Danilo, Douglas; Emerson, Guerrero.
I expect Chelsea to field the same starting eleven as they did against Monterrery. Although leaving Victor Moses on the bench would have been difficult for Benitez. The Nigerian has been a big player for Chelsea in recent weeks, and offers a different style of play than Oscar. His strong, attacking direct runs can put any side on the back foot in a burst of explosive pace. Frank Lampard could be given a run out in the Chelsea midfield – however with David Luiz's immence display along with John Obi Mikel, the Blues look strong enough in the midifeld department. Branislav Ivanovic and Gary Cahill looked impressive throughout the semi-final in the absence of John Terry, whilst Azpilicueta is beginning to look a better player each game.
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
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
Predicted Score: Corinthians 0 – 2 Chelsea
I think Rafael Benitez and Chelsea will be succesful this Sunday against the Brazilian side. Chelsea looked strong and threatening in the first half with Luiz in the midfield, and I think Benitez will give the Brazilian the full 90 minutes this Sunday. The Brazilian maintain's the velocity of Chelsea's attacking tempo at a constant level, and Fernando Torres thrives off quick, attacking play. With Luiz in the side we will see the revival of Fernando Torres continue.