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Club World Cup: Can 20/1 outsiders trouble Chelsea?
Aaron Rogan
Aaron Rogan
February 7, 2022
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Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.

After their Champions League success back in May, Chelsea are Europe’s representatives at the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi this week.

This trophy is one of the few which continues to elude the Blues, with Rafa Benitez overseeing a final defeat back in 2012 during his short spell in charge. However, they’re heavy favourites to put that right this month given the gulf in class between them and the other contenders.

So, just who are Chelsea facing in the Club World Cup on Wednesday? And who awaits them in the next round? We have answers to those questions and more below.

Club World Cup outright odds

  • Chelsea – 1/3
  • Palmeiras – 11/4
  • Al Ahly – 20/1
  • Al-Hilal – 20/1

Club World Cup semi-final draw

  • Palmeiras vs Al Ahly
  • Al Hilal vs Chelsea

Who are Chelsea’s opponents Al Hilal?

Al Hilal are Saudi Arabia’s most successful club, having lifted their domestic title 17 times. They also won a record fourth AFC Champions League title, making them Asia’s representatives at the Club World Cup for the second time in three seasons.

They finished fourth in the 2019 edition of this competition, losing 3-1 to runners-up Flamengo. They return for the 2021 tournament with a decent attacking line-up including names which European football fans might recognise.

Two former Premier League stars lead the line, with ex-Manchester United forward Odion Ighalo partnered by former West Brom man Matheus Pereira. The Brazilian had a hand in five goals across two clashes with Chelsea last term which makes him one to watch. On top of that, Mali international Moussa Marega also joined from Porto, having scored 72 goals for the Portuguese giants.

Al-Hilal also got some revenge on Flamengo by poaching 14-goal striker Michael from the Brazilian side. He completes the front four which a Thomas Tuchel-less Chelsea can’t take for granted.

Best Bet for Al Hilal vs Chelsea

Al Hilal’s strikeforce saw them put six goals past Al Jazira at the weekend, so back them to trouble Chelsea in this clash. The Blues have conceded in seven of their last 10 games, while their strength should take them through to the final. Back the Blues to win and both teams to score.

Who are Chelsea likely to play in the final?

Chelsea are 1/7 favourites to win in 90 minutes against Al Hilal, so we’re not getting ahead of ourselves by looking towards the final. In fact, no European side has failed to make the final since the current format was introduced in 2005.

If they make it, the Blues will meet the winner of Palmeiras vs Al Ahly, with the South American champions the favourites in Tuesday’s clash. They were able to become back-to-back winners of the Copa Libertadores last year, their third title overall. Palmeiras made the 2020 Club World Cup, stumbling to a disappointing fourth-placed finish.

The Brazilian side have a crop of young talents who will be familiar to Football Manager players, while they’ll likely be much more high-profile in a few years. The likes of Renan, Gabriel Menino, Gabriel Veron, Danilo and Wesley are all right at the beginning of promising careers.

However, recent years have seen the South Americans shocked in the semi-final stage. That happened last year, with Al Ahly going on to beat Palmeiras in the third-place game.

The Egyptian side are the most decorated team in both Egypt and Africa, with an international trophy haul second only to Real Madrid. As 10-time winners of the CAF Champions League, they won’t be pushovers if they make the final.

Best Bet for Palmeiras vs Al Ahly

The Brazilian side haven’t conceded a goal in five of their last six matches, while they’ve won to nil in four of their last five starts. Al Ahly’s 1-0 win over Monterrey suggests they’ll look to make this a cagey affair, so I’m backing Palmeiras to edge it with another win to nil.

Club World Cup Best Bet Double

Club World Cup Correct Score Double

While both semis feature strong favourites I see both being pushed quite close. Chelsea struggled to overcome Plymouth at the weekend and they’ve not exactly been free-scoring of late. Meanwhile, given the tight game in prospect in the other semi I wouldn’t be surprised if that was settled by a single goal.

I’m backing Chelsea to grind out a 2-1 victory, with Palmeiras going through 1-0 as my two correct score predictions. Together that double can be backed at 45/1 with bet365.

How do European clubs tend to do in the Club World Cup?

Only five nations have ever had a club win this tournament, with four of them coming from Europe. Brazil – four time winners – are the only South American nation to see their team return with the trophy.

Spanish clubs have won this competition a record seven times thanks to their domination of the Champions League, with Real Madrid the last to accomplish it back in 2018. That was Real’s fourth win, making them the Club World Cup’s most successful side.

Only two English sides – Liverpool and Manchester United – have previously lifted the trophy. United crashed out of the first edition back in 2000, winning it eight years later. Liverpool also lost their first attempt in 2005 before winning it in 2019. That’s a positive for 2012 runners-up Chelsea, who are the last European team to fail to win the trophy.

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