Chelsea 2 vs. 1 Palmeiras Club World Cup Final Review

CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD!!!

Chelsea took on Brazilian team Palmeiras at the Club World Cup final in Abu Dhabi on Saturday night. It was Chelsea’s 2nd appearance in the competition’s final after losing in 2012 while Palmeiras were making their first appearance. A win for either team would have been their first. Palmeiras had the same team as predicted with Dudu, Rony, Scarpa, and Veiga all starting up front. The majority of the fans in the stadium were Palmeiras fans mostly because Brazilian teams really cherish the Club World Cup. There was decent Chelsea support as well and the Blues knew the importance of winning this trophy because it would complete the set. Tuchel selected Mendy in goal with a back three of Christensen, Silva, and Rudiger. Azpilicueta and Hudson-Odoi started as the wing backs with Havertz, Mount and Lukaku playing up top. A strong lineup. 

The first half was pretty straight forward. Chelsea had two thirds of the possession but Palmeiras’s low block meant that very few chances were created. Palmeiras on the other hand had some very good chances on the counter attack. Mount had to come off in the first half after hurting his ankle and was replaced by Pulisic. Pulisic’s addition did add some flair to the forward line but there was no breakthrough. 

The first goal came in the 54th minute as Hudson-Odoi put a brilliant cross into the box and Lukaku rose highest to head the ball into the net. A goal in a big final and Lukaku earned back respect last night. Chelsea though could not find that finishing goal though and Veiga scored a penalty to equalise in the 64th minute. Thiago Silva had tried to head a ball away but it his hand and obstructed play. Neither team could find a winner in regular time as the game went to extra time.

In extra time Palmeiras just sat back and defended while Chelsea tried to throw the kitchen sink at their defence. The breakthrough came late with Azpilicueta volleying a shot towards goal and it hit defender Luan on the hand. After a short VAR check the penalty was given. Azpilicueta took the ball and cleverly took all the intimidation given to him by the Palmeiras players following which he handed the ball to Havertz to take the actual penalty. Kai Havertz stepped up and just like he did to win Chelsea the Champions League he scored the winner to win the club the World Cup. Havertz was then brought down late in the game after being through on goal and Luan was sent off with a straight red card. Full time and Chelsea were champions of the world. 

Chelsea Team Review

Goalkeeper

Mendy returned to goal in this game. There were a few saves he had to make and the penalty is always a 50/50. Apart form that it was a good outing and he adds another trophy to his cabinet. Both Kepa and Mendy got game time and did brilliantly.

Defenders

The whole defence was very good. Azpilicueta became the first Chelsea player to win every single trophy at the club. An absolute legendary captain for the club and one of the legends of the game for sure. Christensen, Silva, and Rudiger were also solid at the back. Sarr came on in extra time when Chelsa switched to a back four. 

Midfielders

Kovacic and Kante started as the midfield two. Kovacic was very good for much of the game. Kante played the whole game but for me had a mixed performance. In patches he was great but sometimes he was caught out. Mount looked good until he had to come off and hopefully the injury isn’t serious. Saul came on late in the game to liven up the midfield. 

Forwards

Havertz was very good and played the whole game. He scored the winning penalty and exhibted great nerves in such a pressure situation. It should be the boost needed for him to kick on in the 2nd half of the season. Lukaku also made it two goals in two games and scored a powerful header. His first trophy with Chelsea and it again should help him kick on and score more goals. Hudson-Odoi played as a wing back and got an assist but overall had an ok performance. Pulisic was impactful when he came on and showed real hunger. Hopefully the American can get a run of games. Ziyech and Werner also came on and did well to create chances and stretch the Palmeiras defence. 

Manager

Tuchel finally made it for the game and was in the dugout for the final. It was great to see. I think the most clever thing Tuchel did over the two games was give most of the squad game time. He made everyone feel involved and like they contributed to the trophy. A third trophy at the club in a year and hopefully many more to come. 

Chelsea completed football last night and Abramovich was on hand to witness the missing piece of the puzzle. Again, this is the beginning of a new era and if Tuchel continues to get the backing Chelsea will only get better. Next up is a visit to Selhurst Park to play Crystal Palace.

CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD, COME ON CHELSEA!!!

Chelsea vs. Palmeiras Club World Cup Final Preview

Massive final for Chelsea!

Chelsea will take on Brazilian team Palmeiras in Abu Dhabi for the Club World Cup final on Saturday. Palmeiras beat Al Ahly 2-0 in their semi-final and will have several thousands of fans in the stadium supporting them. Chelsea seem to have the rest of Brazil supporting them so I guess it’s not that bad for the Blues. This is the teams first outing in the Club World Cup and their first appearance in the final. 

Chelsea go into this game having beaten Al-Hilal 0-1 on Wednesday. It was a close game but Chelsea pulled through thanks to a goal from Lukaku in the 1st half. Chelsea will be playing their 2nd Club World Cup final having lost the first one to Brazilian side Corinthians in 2012. It is is the only trophy that is missing from the cabinet at Chelsea and if the Blues win it they would have completed the set of all available trophies to an English Premier League club. 

Chelsea Team Preview

Chelsea have the full squad available with the only exceptions beind Reece James and Ben Chilwell. Mendy is back in training and was on the bench against Al-Hilal. Kepa has been outstanding while Mendy has been at AFCON. Some would say that the Spaniard deserves to start in the final but I would say start Mendy. Fans are fickle and if a long range effort went in that Kepa could not save then everyone would blame him. Chelsea are blessed with two goalkeepers that are high on confidence so start Mendy and bring Kepa on if the game goes to penalties which hopefully it does not.

Chalobah, Silva, and Rudiger should start in defence while I would start Azpiicueta and Sarr as the wing backs. Christensen and Alonso could start but I would be worried with Alonso and his lack of pace against Brazilians. Jorginho and Kovacic should start in midfield with a front three of Havertz, Lukaku and Ziyech. I personally would start Havertz ahead of Lukaku and bring in Mount but I doubt the Belgian will get dropped. The front three did well against Al-Hilal and I think the wingers should keep their place. Again Chelsea could go with a back four as well in which case we could see Mount come in for one of the centre backs. It should be a strong lineup regardless.

Palmeiras Team Preview

Palmeiras just began their new season this year. Last season their top scorer was Veiga while Rony and Willian also finished with 10+ goals. Scarpa was their highest creator with 20 assists last season. This season having played five games Dudu is their highest goal scorer with three goals. Veiga has the most assists with three. I wouldn’t say I know much about Palmeiras but they are a strong and pacy team that love attacking. Weverton should be their goalkeeper with a back four of Rocha, Gomez, Luan, and Piquerez. Danilo and Ze Rafael should make up their midfield with Dudu, Veiga, and Scarpa starting up front behind Rony who is their striker. The front four by all means look lethal and that is where the danger lies with Palmeiras. Abel Fereira is their manager. 

Starting XI Prediction

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This trophy means a lot for Chelsea fans. These players would be making history if they won it for the first time for the club. There seems to be welcome news that Thomas Tuchel might make it for the final which will be great for the whole team. Palmeiras won’t be an easy team by any means and their fans will be as vocal as ever, but Chelsea know what they need to do. The most important thing is to be clinical in front of goal. COME ON CHELSEA!!!

Al-Hilal 0 vs. 1 Chelsea Club World Cup Semi-Final Review

Onto the final!

Chelsea took on Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal on Wednesday night in Abu Dhabi for the Club World Cup semi-final. The winner of the game would seal place in the final alongside Brazilian team Palmeiras. Al-Hilal picked a strong team with Marega, Pereira, and Ighalo all starting. Chelsea selected Kepa in goal with a back three of Christensen, Silva, and Rudiger. Azpilicueta and Alonso started as the wing backs with a midfield of Kovacic, and Jorginho. Havertz, Ziyech and Lukaku started up front. A strong lineup by both teams as they looked to reach the final.

Al-Hilal started well but Chelsea grew into the game in the first half. Chelsea had several good chances in the first half but the final finish was missing as usual. Al-Hilal didn’t have a shot on target for much of the first 45. The only goal of the game came in the 32nd minute as Havertz did well to dribble and put in a cross which fell into the path of Lukaku who smashed it into goal. The Belgian improved as the half went on but Chelsea failed to double the lead.

Al-Hilal came out to play for the 2nd half and grew back into the game. They got several corners and began to test Kepa. Kepa made a particularly brilliant save late on that kept Chelsea in the lead. Chelsea did hold on for the win though and will now play the final on Saturday.

Chelsea Team Review

Goalkeeper

A cleansheet for Kepa as his redemption season continues to go well. It was a brilliant save late in the game and it is a testament to his quality that Chelsea have not missed Mendy. Another very good game for him.

Defenders

All the defenders did pretty well. Christensen made a particularly good challenge in the 2nd half to deny a counter. Rudiger handled Ighalo well. Silva was his calm self while Azpilicueta and Alonso were decent as the wing backs. Sarr came on in the 2nd half for Alonso to see out the game.

Midfielders

Jorginho and Kovacic did really well in the 1st half. Jorginho had to come off at half time and that did impact the fluidity with which Chelsea passed in the midfield. Kante came on in his place but didn’t have his usual impact. Mount came on in the 2nd half as well to add some bite and threat. Kovacic had a very good all round game and played some brilliant passes as well. 

Forwards

The forwards all did relatively well in this game. Havertz was a constant threat and his movement seemed to allow Lukaku to play better. Havertz should have scored but he hit the post. Ziyech again and had an influential game as he continues to enjoy game time at the moment. Lukaku began the game poorly and missed a chance from point blank range. His goal was a poachers one and he was more involved following the lead. Some good linkup play and a constant threat. 

Manager

Zsolt Low was taking care of the management side while Tuchel contnues to isolate in London. Tuchel though delievered the half time team talk and would have liked that the team kept a clean sheet. We should have been more clinical in front of goal though. Final no 5 for the German at Chelsea though.

Chelsea will play the final against Palmeiras on Saturday night. It is bound to be a big game for the club. COME ON CHELSEA!!!

Al-Hilal vs. Chelsea Club World Cup Semi-Final Preview

Another trophy to win!

Chelsea will take part in the semi-final of the Club World Cup on Wednesday as they take on Saudi Arabian team Al-Hilal. The londoners have been in Abu Dhabi for the last few days and have had a mid season camp of sorts with warm weather training. The Club World Cup is no friendly tournament though and Chelsea have lost the final once before in 2013. Al-Hilal are the opposition and are managed by former Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim. 

Al-Hilal have won four of their last five games and beat Al Jazira 6-1 to get into the semi-final. They are in no way a team to take lightly for Chelsea and it seems that Tuchel and the players know that. Tuchel himself won’t be present for this game as he continues to isolate in London. Chelsea are hoping that he might make it for the final or 3rd placed game. 

Chelsea go into this game having beaten Plymouth Argyle at the weekend. It wasn’t the greatest of games and it took 120 minutes for Chelsea to get past the Championship team. The Blues were not poor but it was another game where there was no cutting edge up front. The only attacking player that seemed to play the whole game at a good level was Hakim Ziyech. The winger continues to thrive in Chelsea’s formation switch. 

Chelsea Team Preview

Chelsea will have Edouard Mendy back in the fold after he was crowned an Africa Cup of Nations champions with Senegal on Sunday. It is yet to be seen whether he will start the game though. For safety I will say Kepa will probably start. Mount was also touch and go but has returned to training recently. Chelsea should revert to a back three of Chalobah, Silva, and Rudiger for this game. Hudson-Odoi, and Sarr should start as the wing backs with Kovacic, and Kante in midfield. Mount, Ziyech, and Havertz should start up front. 

Tuchel could of course start with a back four with Sarr probably starting on the left but Al-Hilal are a pacy team with plenty of attacking talent. I wouldn’t start Lukaku either because he was far from decent at the weekend. There are several options and I think the lineup above could easily transition to a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 with Chalobah and Sarr playing as full backs. It’s a solid team either way. 

Al-Hilal Team Preview

Al-Maiouf is the goalkeeper with a back four of Abdulhamid, Jang, Al Bulahi, and Al-Shahrani. Kanno, and Cuellar serve as their two sitting midfielders. Up front is where the talent lies in the team. Marega the former FC Porto striker plays as a winger while Pereira who Chelsea fans know all to well from his West Brom days plays as the playmaker. Al-Dawsari plays on the left wing with Ighalo their striker. Ighalo the former Watford and Man United striker has been in fine form this season while all the front four scored against Al Jazira. They have Carrillo on the bench as well. A talented team with a talented manager. 

Starting XI Prediction

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The Club World Cup is the missing link for Chelsea as a club. It is the only trophy we have not one and the hunger for all the players should be real. It won’t be an easy game but if Chelsea play at their best level then we should book a place in the final. COME ON CHELSEA!!!

Euro 2020 Final Review

It’s coming Rome!!!

Italy 1 (3) vs. (2) 1 England

Italy took on England at Wembley for the final of Euro 2020 on Sunday. It was an amazing atmosphere inside the stadium although there had been some chaos. Fans had broken in and occupied seats in the stadium while unruliness ruled in certain areas of London, but the football carried on. England got the first goal in the 2nd minute after Shaw volleyed in a Trippier cross. It was the perfect start for England and a wake up call for Italy. From then on only one team looked likely winning and it was Italy. The Italians grew back into the game and ended the half with more control. The 2nd half was all Italy as England barely had a sniff of the ball. The equaliser came in the 67th minute via Bonucci after he fumbled the ball past the net. The game then went into extra time where England had some chances but Italy stayed strong and once again took control of the game. No winner could be found as the game headed to penalties. Berardi stepped up and finished past Pickford. Kane did the same to make it 1-1. Belotti then saw his shot saved by Pickford as Maguire put his past Donnarumma to give England a 1-2 lead. Bonucci converted his penalty and then Rashford who had been brought on to take a penalty along with Sancho missed his. Bernardeschi then made it 3-2 and Sancho also missed his penalty. Jorginho then had the chance to finish the deal but he surprisingly missed his penalty as well. Saka then stepped up and had to finish to keep England in the game but he missed which crowned Italy the European Champions. Italy were deserved winner over 90 minutes and the whole tournament. It was entertaining football from game one and they should fight throughout. England from game one were boring. They scraped by in games with a solid defence but other than that there was no control. Southgate’s substitutions in this game were a joke as well. Rashford and Sancho both missed their penalties and why is 19 year old Saka taking a penalty ahead of the likes of Shaw, Grealish, and Sterling. Southgate will be given a new contract though because what people see are the results and losing in penalties will be the result. What a journey Italy have been on since 2018 and Mancini has done a great job with them. Mancini will now have his eyes set on the World Cup next year. Jorginho and Emerson became the 10th and 11th players to win both the Champions League and Euro in the same season which is incredible. An exciting Euro’s comes to an end as we head back into pre-season and get ready for the new 21/22 season. 

Euro 2020 Final Preview

It’s the big one!

Italy vs. England

Italy take on England for the Euro 2020 final at Wembley on Sunday night. Italy finished top of their group then went on to beat Austria, Belgium, and Spain. England finished top of their group going on to beat Germany, Ukraine, and Denmark. Neither team has lost a game yet although England have drawn one. Italy have scored 12 goals conceding 3 while England have scored 10 and conceded 1. This should be a firecracker of a game because England have found a scoring touch recently while both teams have solid defences. For me the game will be won in the midfield and it will be interesting to see whether Barella, Verrati, and Jorginho win out or Phillips, Rice, and Mount. England have the home advantage and Wembley will be roaring but there will be a fair few Italians who would have made it to London for the game. Neither team were favourites to reach the final but these are the two best teams in the tournament. I expect a game of counter attacks and both teams are great at it. I believe Italy have the experience and fight though and should edge England for the win. 

Euro 2020 Semi-Finals Day 2 Review

England reach their first final in 55 years!

England 2 vs. 1 Denmark

This was an open and intense game over 90 minutes. Denmark gained the lead in the 30th minute at Wembley with Damsgaard scoring an amazing free kick. Kjaer then scored an own goal to bring England back into the game in the 39th minute. The game kept going as both Pickford and Schmeichel made some massive saves but Schmeichel was for sure the busiest. The game then entered extra time where Sterling dived in the 104th minute and got England a penalty. Kane scored the penalty and gave England the lead. Denmark tried to get back into the game but England held on for the win and their first appearance in a final. Denmark played really well throughout the tournament and the journey they have been through has won many hearts. They can be proud of themselves and have a talented squad to build on. England aren’t the most appealing or entertaining and their fans and media are slightly annoying but they are through. They set up a big final with Italy on Sunday. 

Euro 2020 Semi-Finals Day 2 Preview

The neutrals against England!

England vs. Denmark

England are still the only team to have not conceded a goal at these Euros and are a step away from the final that will be played at Wembley. Its been a home tournament for England and the chants of “its coming home” are back in full swing. Denmark have been on a rollercoaster ride of a journey and at the moment the rollercoaster is climbing. On paper England would be the favourites and even otherwise the way England have won games even when not playing well they are the favourites. Denmark have been the more entertaining team though and have plenty of quality at their disposal as well. England will feel they are already through at least most fans will and Denmark can really break those hopes if they perform well. I don’t expect much goals but I expect it to be one hell of a fight. What a story it would be for Denmark if they reach the final. 

Euro 2020 Semi-Finals Day 1 Review

Penalties are a lottery.

Italy 1 (4) vs. (2) 1 Spain

For large parts of the first half and the game in general Spain were the better team. Their play was good and fluid while Pedri and Busquets ran the midfield. Italy defended well and sprang some counters but neither team could score in the 1st half. The 2nd half so Italy take the lead in the 60th minute thanks to a brilliant curling effort from Chiesa. As the clock ticked on Italy grew tighter at the back. Morata finally equalised for Spain coming off the bench and a one two led to a strikers finish in the 80th minute to make it 1-1. The two teams could not be separated in the 2nd half and the game went to extra time. In extra time the two teams looked tired and neither really risked it all for the win and so the game went to penalties. Locatelli stepped up and missed while Olmo also missed for Spain. Belotti and Moreno both scored followed by Bonucci and Thiago. Bernardeschi scored but Morata missed his penalty. Up stepped Jorginho who in trade mark finish hop skipped and passed the ball into the net. Italy won and go to the finals. Spain were underdogs and they did really well to reach the quarter’s but just fell short. Italy were not great and will know that with one game left they will have to be better.  

Euro 2020 Semi-Finals Day 1 Preview

The tougher semi-final!

Italy vs. Spain

The final 3 games of the tournament are being played at Wembley and the first semi-final is Italy vs. Spain. Two teams that no one would have selected as the favourites to go all the way. Italy were dark horses, but no one had an eye on Spain. Italy have been consistent throughout and many believe that they deserve to win the Euros. Spain started slowly but really got going in the final group game and have since kept going. We all know Italy have a strong defence and Spain have problems finishing their chances. Both the teams like playing football and keeping possession, pressing high etc so it’s going to be an interesting tactical game. Two top goalkeepers as well means that the finishing will have to be on point. A place in the final on Sunday awaits for the winner. I think it’s going to be a close game but Italy should edge it.