It was not a performance to enshrine or even remember beyond the 90 minutes itself, but Chelsea did enough to reach Saturday’s Club World Cup final, and avoid becoming the first UEFA Champions League entrant to fail to do so.
Thomas Tuchel teleconferenced in a strong lineup, but Chelsea often lacked the fluid movement we might have expected, and often lacked the requisite final passes or touches — though that part we’re more used to. So we made hard work of things against a team easily underrated, though also easily overrated in retrospect.
“We worked very hard. We missed a bit of freedom and rhythym. We started a litle nervous, it was not easy. We fought hard for it to find a solution. My opinion is the solution was there but we didn’t find it easily. We missed a bit of rhythm in this game but we fought hard to get the result and reach the final.
“This competition is very important for the club. The players felt the pressure and that’s why we failed to find the easy solution and score goals. The players did well. We didn’t concede and had a lot of opportunities to score a second.”
Of course, at the end of the day, as in any game but especially in knockout competitions, what matters is surviving and advancing.
And we don’t have much time to rest, with the final against Palmeiras coming up on Saturday. The Copa Libertadores champions will be up for it much more than we can probably imagine from our European perspective.
“They have amazing supporters for sure. In the final 10-15000 will be here maybe. I expect a big atmosphere but we are used to that from big Champions League games, big finals.”
“[And] we are well prepared for this tournament and final. The most important thing is we play a little bit more free in the final with better rhythm. The game today was good to play first time in this stadium, to acclimatise.
“We know they are a very big club in Brazil. They have a lot of good players. In the next days we’ll analyse their videos. We’ll be well prepared.”
Kepa (or Mendy?) will have to be at the ready!
“When we needed him [Kepa] was there and made one big save. He’s in very good shape. He plays and trains well. We’re lucky to have him.
“In the next days we have to decide who plays the final. We’re waiting for Thomas’ opinion and the goalkeeping coaches before we take the decision for the final.”
-Zsolt Lőw; source: Football.London
Onwards and upwards.