Chelsea F.C. wins Club World Cup



Jose Pacheco

The FIFA Club World Cup is an annual tournament consisting of seven teams, the champions of their confederation and the league champion of the host country that play to be crowned the World Cup champion.

The English Premier League club Chelsea F.C. won their first Club World Cup against Brazil’s Palmeiras 2-1 this past Saturday at the 2022 Final.

For  almost the past 10 years, the Champ of Champions was a European club. Since its inception in 2000, across  18 iterations, only four  teams outside Europe have won the cup.

The latest was Corinthians, a Brazilian team that won nine years ago in 2012 against the same team playing in the 2022 final, Chelsea, attempting to win the only trophy they have not managed to win.

The 2022 final was Chelsea’s second attempt to win every trophy possible in European soccer. By doing so, they would become only the fifth team, joining an elite class of soccer teams.

Going into the match, Chelsea was  undeniably a fan-favorite, but the Palmeiras couldn’t be counted off.

The Palmeiras  was not just the Copa Libertadores de América champions, but back-to-back champions, an impressive feat in arguably the hardest tournament of the world where many of the greatest players such as Pele and Neymar got their start.

They were also fresh off a good performance in the semifinal,  compared  to Chelsea struggling against Asian representative Al Hilal SFC, hinting at a possible upset.

Before the whistle to start the final, the scenes suggest a turning point in the tournament’s history.

The game was fast paced from the start on both sides, but staunching defenses from the two teams led to only two shots on target for the first half, one for each team.

The first goal came at the 54th minute after a fierce header from Romelu Lukaku that sent the ball to the back of the net. But Palmerias had their chance to level the scoreboard in the form of a penalty due to an accidental hand from Thiago Silva in the 64th minute. Raphael Veiga would score and equalize the game 1-1, dragging the game into extra time.

There were 30 more minutes to play in an already dramatic final that many presumed the European team would win easily. It ultimately came for Chelsea in the 117th minute of extra time.

The goal would come in the form of a penalty after a foul from Brazilian defender Luan Garcia, with Kai Havertz sealing Palmerias fate by sending it to the back at the net, securing the game 21 for Chelsea.

With the win Chelsea continues the dominance of European teams in the Club World Cup and becomes the fifth club in history to win every trophy there is to win in European club football. They join other historic teams such as Ajax, Juventus, Manchester United and Bayern Munich.

The win also demonstrates the level of Premier League teams, arguably taking over Spain’s La Liga dominance in international tournaments as English teams have excelled in international tournaments in recent years.

The 2022 tournament marks the end of an era as future FIFA Club World Cup contests will be played under a new and expanded format featuring 24 teams instead of the seven champions from the six soccer confederation and the host country league champion. .

The new format has been met with both criticism and support. On one hand, the tournament to decide the greatest club in the world will feature more top teams from around the world, not just the champions of each confederation.

South America will have the second highest number of participating teams with six.  North America will only have three teams participating.

This should bring more attention to a tournament not considered that important to soccer clubs. On the other hand, it seems to favor European teams with the highest number of qualified teams, eight.

It is uncertain when this iteration of the tournament, taking place in China, will occur as it was postponed to either 2022 or 2023 due to COVID-19. .

Until the next tournament, Chelsea and European clubs maintain their soccer dominance.