Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel will try to lead Chelsea to more trophies and a first Club World Cup title when the seven-team competition kicks off in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. The European champions fly to the United Arab Emirates after Saturday’s FA Cup tie against third-tier Plymouth, and are bidding to become only the third English club to win the trophy after Manchester United and Liverpool. “I have to say that once you’re in, you’re very excited,” Tuchel told Chelsea’s website.
“Once you’re not in it, it’s a competition that doesn’t have the highest focus and the highest value. It seems that way in Europe, or just to me.”
“But once you’re in it and you start planning for it and you see it coming on the horizon, it’s pretty exciting.”
Tuchel guided Chelsea to a 1-0 win over Manchester City in last season’s Champions League final. The Blues then overcame Villarreal on penalties to claim the UEFA Super Cup in August.
Chelsea return to the Club World Cup for the second time after finishing as runners-up to Corinthians in 2012 in Japan, the last time a team from outside Europe won the trophy.
They will face Asian Champions League winner Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia, home team Al Jazira or AS Pirae of Tahiti in the semi-finals here on February 9.
“It is a great opportunity to win an extraordinary trophy that is far from the daily work and that is why we will do anything to take advantage of the opportunity to make it happen,” said Tuchel.
Can Palmeiras end the European race?
Palmeiras, one of nine Brazilian clubs to have appeared in the tournament, should represent the main threat to Chelsea after defending their Copa Libertadores crown in November.
Monterrey, winner of the CONCACAF Champions League, will participate for the fifth time. They face African giants Al Ahly in the second round, with Palmeiras awaiting the victors in the last four.
Al Ahly will make his seventh appearance after capturing a record-extending 10th CAF Champions League title, but the Cairo-based club are missing several key players who are still involved with Egypt in the African Cup of Nations. Nations.
The latest edition of the tournament, which features the champions of the six continental confederations along with the best team from the host nation, was due to be played in late 2021 in Japan before it withdrew as host due to Covid. -19 pandemic.
The Club World Cup is usually played in December, but this is the second year in a row that it has been delayed: the 2020 edition in Qatar was played in February last year.
Oceanian champions Auckland City withdrew for the second year in a row due to complications from the pandemic, leaving Pirae to step in and become the first Tahitian team to compete.
However, fans in French Polynesia were forced to delay their departure last week after seven players and two staff members tested positive for Covid-19.
Pirae must overcome the journey of more than 17,000 km and the time difference of 14 hours before the first match of the tournament against Al Jazeera, who finished fourth in 2017 and led Real Madrid in the semi-final before losing 2-1.
“First we want to beat Al Jazira and then we want to go all the way and win the trophy. Why not? It’s football, anything can happen,” Pirae captain Alvin Tehau told FIFA.com.
Bayern Munich won the most recent edition of the Club World Cup, which has been held in the United Arab Emirates on four previous occasions, most recently in 2018 when Real Madrid were the winners.
A lucrative revamped 24-team Club World Cup, including eight teams from Europe, was due to be played in China last year before the pandemic halted that project.
Latest winners of the Club World Cup
2020: Bayern Munich (GER)
2019: Liverpool (ESP)
2018: Real Madrid (ESP)
2017: Real Madrid (ESP)
2016: Real Madrid (ESP)
2015: Barcelona (ESP)
2014: Real Madrid (ESP)
2013: Bayern Munich (GER)
2012: Corinthians (BRA)
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2011: Barcelona (ESP)