Chelsea vs Palmeiras predicted line-up as Tuchel returns; Mendy and Lukaku start, and Kante’s brave decision.
Chelsea will attempt to win the Club World Cup this afternoon, claiming the one trophy the club has failed to win during the Roman Abramovich era.
Thomas Tuchel and his players have the chance to change that this afternoon by delivering the one piece of silverware lacking from Stamford Bridge’s trophy cabinet.
That, however, will not be simple. Palmeiras, the Brazilian club that won the Copa Libertadores in November, is keen to win the Club World Cup and become the first South American team to accomplish it since 2012.
“Tomorrow’s match is one I am thankful to be involved in, our players as well,” Palmeiras head coach Abel Ferreira stated yesterday.
“We will be confident on the pitch and our goal is to win. There is no other way to look at this match. One thing I have with me, and I’ve had with me for a long time, if I want to be the best, I have to beat the best.”
The arrival of Thomas Tuchel in Abu Dhabi ahead of the game gave Chelsea a boost in the build-up to the final.
After testing positive for Covid on February 4, the Blues’ head coach was placed in self-isolation.
He has since returned negative PCR testing and is expected to be on the sidelines for today’s match at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium.
Tuchel and the Chelsea coaching staff will not find it easy to select their Chelsea vs Palmeiras starting XI.
All 23 members of the squad who have registered for the competition are in good shape, and there are some tough decisions to be made on the field.
One of the most important is who begins in goal. In the absence of Edouard Mendy, Kepa Arrizabalaga has shown increased confidence and was instrumental in Chelsea’s semi-final victory over Al Hilal.
Mendy, on the other hand, returned to training on Wednesday morning after winning the African Cup of Nations with Senegal.
Given his importance and status as the club’s number one, the 29-year-old will almost certainly be selected for the final.
“He arrives in a very good mood and always has a big smile on his face,” Low said at Chelsea’s pre-match press conference yesterday.
“He’s very important to the group. He gives a lot of energy.
The other big call Tuchel and his coaching team have to make is whether Chelsea set up in their favoured 3-4-2-1 system or go with a back four, something that was experimented with in January.
The other major decision Tuchel and his coaching staff must make is whether to play in Chelsea’s preferred 3-4-2-1 formation or a back four, which was tried out in January.
Tuchel is likely to stick with his best players, which would almost surely be Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva, and Antonio Rudiger in the back three.
Cesar Azpilicueta should start at right-wing-back. With Ben Chilwell ruled out, Marcos Alonso is the obvious pick on the opposing flank, despite his poor form in recent months.
Hakim Ziyech has been in excellent form recently and should continue to play on the right side of the front three.
The number nine position will be filled by Romelu Lukaku, and the left back position will be decided by a coin flip between Mason Mount and Kai Havertz.
Predicted Chelsea vs Palmeiras XI: Mendy; Christensen, Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Ziyech, Lukaku, Havertz.