The FIFA Club World Cup is now under way and Chelsea's first match is fast approaching. Here we bring you all the vital information on the tournament itself, our opponents, plus where and when we will be playing.
The Blues are taking a break from domestic action for a while as we join the teams vying to be crowned world champions in the 18th edition of FIFA’s only club tournament.
You can find out everything you need to know about Chelsea’s involvement in the FIFA Club World Cup below…
What is the Club World Cup?
The Club World Cup is an annual FIFA competition to officially determine the world champions at club level. It was introduced in 2000, eventually replacing the now-defunct Intercontinental Cup, a one-off match between the European Champions League holders and the winners of the South American Copa Libertadores. The current seven-team format of the Club World Cup has been used since 2007.
Is the Club World Cup a knock-out competition?
This year’s FIFA Club World Cup features four rounds of knock-out matches, with Chelsea’s involvement beginning in the last four. The tournament started with a single match in the first round between the local team and the representatives from Oceania.
The winner progressed to the second round, alongside the three teams from Africa, Asia and North America, Central America and the Caribbean. The two clubs to make it through that stage joined Chelsea and the South American champions in the semi-finals which decided who competes for the trophy in the final.
There are also two play-offs to decide which teams finish fifth and third. Matches in the main draw are decided by extra time and a penalty shoot-out if they finish level, but the two play-off games go straight to penalties after 90 minutes.
Where is the Club World Cup?
This season’s FIFA Club World Cup is being held in the United Arab Emirates, specifically Abu Dhabi, with Chelsea’s first match and the final scheduled to take place at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, a 37,500-capacity venue which is currently the home of the tournament’s local representatives.
The third-place play-off and some other games in the earlier rounds will be played nearby at the smaller Al Nahyan Stadium, which can hold 15,000 supporters.
Are Chelsea seeded at the Club World Cup?
There are two seeded teams at the Club World Cup, who both get a bye through the early rounds and begin their campaigns on opposite sides of the semi-final draw. Chelsea are one of these, as Champions League winners, along with the holders of the South American equivalent, the Copa Libertadores.
When are Chelsea's games at the Club World Cup?
Although it is still officially titled as the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup, the tournament began on 3 February 2022, when local side Al Jazira beat Oceania’s Pirae 4-1 in the solitary first-round tie.
However, as a seeded team, Chelsea’s involvement did not get started until our semi-final on Wednesday 9 February. In that match we beat Saudi side Al-Hilal 1-0 with Romelu Lukaku scoring the goal. Al Hilal are the Asian champions.Our second match and the tournament’s conclusion is on Saturday 12 February, the final at 4.30pm (UK time).
Chelsea travelled to the UAE for the Club World Cup after our FA Cup fourth-round tie against Plymouth Argyle at Stamford Bridge arriving on Sunday 6 February.
Which teams qualified for the Club World Cup?
Seven teams competing for the trophy in the UAE, one from each of the six continental football federations, plus one local team from the host nation:
Chelsea (England) – Representing Europe as the current Champions League holders.
Palmeiras (Brazil) – The other seeded team qualified by beating Flamengo in extra time in an all-Brazilian Copa Libertadores final. They finished a disappointing fourth at the last Club World Cup after being eliminated in the semis and losing the third-place play-off on penalties.
Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia) – The most successful club in the history of Saudi football booked their place in Abu Dhabi by winning a record fourth Asian Champions League title in November, with former Swansea striker Bafetimbi Gomis their top scorer in that tournament.
Al Ahly (Egypt) – The most experienced team in the competition, Al Ahly are taking part in their seventh Club World Cup after winning a second-consecutive African Champions League title, becoming the first team to win that competition 10 times. They finished third at the last Club World Cup, beating Palmeiras on penalties in the play-off.
Monterrey (Mexico) – Representing North America, Central America and the Caribbean for a fifth time after beating fellow Mexicans Club America in a delayed CONCACAF Champions League final. Their best performance in the Club World Cup was in 2012, when they were knocked out in the semis by Chelsea, but defeated Al Ahly to finish third.
Pirae (Tahiti) – A late addition to the roster in Abu Dhabi, Pirae have won the last two league titles in Tahiti but were nominated to represent Oceania by their continental federation after original qualifiers Auckland City had to withdraw from a second Club World Cup in a row, due to Covid travel restrictions in New Zealand.
Al Jazira (UAE) – The local representatives from Abu Dhabi secured their third UAE Pro League title last season, topping the table by three points. It is their second appearance at a Club World Cup, having also entered as national champions when the UAE hosted the tournament in 2017.
Who will Chelsea play at the Club World Cup?
Chelsea’s first match was in the semi-finals, where we beat Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal 1-0 after they beat UAE's domestic champions Al Jazira 6-1 in the quarter-finals.
Palmeiras defeated Al Ahly 2-0 in the other semi-final, so we meet the Brazilians, not the African Champions League winners.
Are Chelsea’s Club World Cup games on TV?
Chelsea's Club World Cup semi-final was shown on E4 in the UK, with the final on Channel 4. Programming is due to start at 4pm. A highlights programme covering the final will be shown later that day.
Who is in Chelsea’s Club World Cup squad?
Each team can name a squad of 23 players to take part in the tournament, of which three must be goalkeepers. Injury replacements can be made up to 24 hours before kick-off for each team’s first game, meaning Chelsea’s squad must be finalised on Tuesday 8 February.
The travelling group of Chelsea players who arrived in Abu Dhabi on 6 February are:
Have Chelsea played in the Club World Cup before?
This is Chelsea’s second participation in the FIFA Club World Cup, the first coming in 2012 after beating Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. Cesar Azpilicueta, in his first season at the club in 2012/13, is the only member of our squad from that tournament who is still playing for the Blues, although our current technical and performance advisor Petr Cech also featured in both our matches in Japan.
We are attempting to win the Club World Cup for the first time, though. In 2012 we beat Mexican side Monterrey 3-1 in the 2012 semi-finals, with Spaniards Juan Mata and Fernando Torres finding the net for us, alongside an own goal by Darvin Chavez, but Rafa Benitez’s Blues succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Brazilian team Corinthians in the final.
Wasn’t this year’s Club World Cup supposed to be different?
FIFA originally planned the 2021 Club World Cup as the first of a new format featuring 24 teams, including the Champions League winners, runners-up and Europa League winners from the previous four seasons representing Europe, to be played in China in June.
However, the Covid pandemic and subsequent rescheduling of Euro 2020, Copa America and Olympic Games international tournaments to the summer of 2021 meant that plan had to be abandoned, resulting in FIFA reverting back to the previous seven-team format for the next Club World Cup.
That would have seen it take place in Japan in December 2021, but a surge in Covid cases in that country resulted in them being forced to withdraw as host nation, causing another delay and move to the eventual February tournament in the UAE.