The last major trophy to have evaded Chelsea’s capture in the Roman Abramovich era is up for grabs this week with the European champions beginning their pursuit of the Club World Cup title against Asian champions Al Hilal. The Saudi side crushed hosts Al Jazira to reach the semi finals, where representatives from Europe and South America enter the competition.
A European representative has made the Club World Cup final on every occasion in its current format and Chelsea will be expected to go further than just reaching the final even if they are awaiting the arrival of their head coach Thomas Tuchel, who tested positive for COVID-19 prior to Saturday’s FA Cup fourth round win over Plymouth. Here is how you can watch the match and what you need to know:
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 9 | Time: 11:30 a.m. ET
Location: Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium — Abu Dhabi
TV: Fox Sports | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Odds: Al Hilal +1100; Draw +450; Chelsea -450 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
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Al Hilal: If the Saudi champions are to pull off a major upset in this tournament it will surely be by overwhelming the Chelsea defense by sheer weight of talent in attack, where Leonardo Jardim is not short of talented options even after the January departure of Bafetimbi Gomis. He was replaced by former Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo and Michael from Flamengo, adding to an attack that includes Peruvian Andre Carillo, Matheus Pereira and Moussa Marega, once a wanted man in Europe when in a Porto shirt.
Ighalo scored on his debut for his new side in what proved to be an impressive 6-1 win over Al Jazira, the biggest victory in the history of the tournament.
Chelsea: Assistant manager Arno Michels is expected to be in charge for the semifinal and will be expecting a greatly improved performance from any of those who retain their place from Saturday’s XI, who labored to victory over League One Plymouth. Chief among those who will be drawing focus is Romelu Lukaku, yet to catch fire since returning to the side late last year.
The 28 year old’s only goal of 2022 so far came in the FA Cup third round win over Chesterfield and Lukaku found himself muscled off the ball all too frequently on Saturday. A change of scenery might be what the Belgian needs to get back among the goals again.
Al Hilal’s firepower up top may give Chelsea a few nervy moments but the Blues should reach the final in comfortable enough fashion. PICK: Al Hilal 1 Chelsea 3