Chelsea lost to Corinthians in the Club World Cup final in a performance that was every bit as poor as the UEFA Super Cup or the 3-0 loss away to Juventus. I'm not going to write a lengthy match report on this one, as frankly, it just wasn't a very good game from either side and I'm having an awfully hard time finding the motivation to watch any of the game again.
Rafa Benitez made a trio of changes from the semifinal lineup, replacing Victor Moses with Oscar, Cesar Azpilicueta with Frank Lampard, And John Obi Mikel with Ramires. I'm sure many fans will criticize him for these changes, but frankly, I'm not too upset with them. Corinthians played their usual deep and tight cup style, so there was very little need for a holder. Bran was probably the right choice over Azpilicueta at RB, as his aerial threat on set pieces was worth far more than Azpilicueta's contributions from open play.
The one questionable decision for me was the decision to start Moses over Oscar. I think it was clear from the comments in the build up that this match meant a lot to the Brazilians, and from the performance on the pitch it seems it didn't mean all that much to most of the rest of the squad. Not only that, but the width provided by Moses was basically worthless against a team defending like Corinthians, at least it was worthless with Fernando Torres as the target in the box*.
*He's just never been a real threat against this type of defending.
I wasn't the only one surprised that Oscar didn't start, as the player himself thought it was 'crazy':
Don’t know if this has got through to the English media, but Oscar told a Brazilian reporter that Rafa ‘must be crazy’ for not starting him— Euan Marshall (@euanmarshall) December 16, 2012
The first half was largely what we'd expect from a tie with Corinthians, with the Brazilian side sitting deep and defending well, and Chelsea largely dominating possession. The European champs passed the ball around fairly well, but chances were hard to find.
The few good chances that either team had came when Corinthians decided to push forward after a turnover. David Luiz did a pretty fantastic job dealing with virtually every Corinthians attack, with Eden Hazard also showing real effort on the defensive end to shut down the only one he couldn't deal with. Frank Lampard was laying some nice balls over the top to Torres, and Victor Moses forced a great save from Cassio.
The second half came with no changes, and it was much of the same for the first several minutes. Corinthians slowly started to push out more as the half wore on, and Paulinho just missed putting them ahead when he missed just wide. 69 minutes in, Corinthians would take the lead when Paulo Guerrero put his head on a deflected shot after getting behind Petr Cech.
From that point on, Chelsea would have to press hard to try to equalize. They actually created a fair number of chances, with Fernando Torres missing a point blank chance and Corinthians players blocking several other shots. Gary Cahill was sent off for something that was never shown on TV (and will now miss the Leeds game), and Torres had a goal correctly waved off for being offside.
The final whistle blew, and Chelsea suffered yet another defeat. It's hard to argue that it was anything but fair, as Chelsea played pretty poorly throughout. Full credit to Corinthians, they were very organized and made the most of their chance. It's exactly how we should have expected them to play, and we just weren't good enough.
Next up will be the League Cup quarterfinal against Leeds. It will be interesting to see how Rafa approaches that game, as he's now seen his first attempt at silverware with Chelsea come up short. I suppose he better be in fear of being sacked now, and I'm sure the boo-birds will be out when the club next plays at the bridge.