Chelsea failed to perform against Corinthians in the Club World Cup final, despite claims of its importance
By Oliver Todd. Last Updated: December 17, 2012 4:59pm
Chelsea's players applaud their supporters after the Club World Cup final, but their failed to match up to expectations.
After all the pre-match hype, Chelsea's performance in Yokohama brought European attitudes on the Club World Cup back to the norm.
All of the pre-tournament talk from the Chelsea camp was about the importance of claiming the Club World Cup, and in doing so, becoming only the second British 'World Champions', but Sunday's defeat showed an entirely different side.
On Saturday, Branislav Ivanovic spoke to the press on the importance of the tournament: "It's going to be a key point for this generation because to be eliminated from the first stage of the Champions League is, for us, a little bit disappointing, Tomorrow is the one new chance to make history." Earlier, Fernando Torres had described it as "(like the real World Cup) for the clubs", whilst interim manager Rafael Benitez said that the competition was "massive" for his new side.
The performance showed a complete contrast to the public statements, Chelsea beaten by a side that worked, harried and took their chances.
The Brazilians successfully frustrated the European champions and in Benitez, Chelsea had a manager reluctant to make the necessary substitutions to change the flow of the contest. As the second-half dragged on, Chelsea drifted off and allowed Corinthians to take a hold of the game, losing the fluidity and tempo that saw them overpower Mexico's Monterrey earlier in the tournament. Guerrero's 69th minute winner had long been coming.
Frank Lampard and Ramires formed a previously untested and ultimately ineffective combination in the middle, whilst the majority of the Chelsea threat came through Victor Moses, selected ahead of Oscar, who was frequently wasteful or ineffective. Torres failed to continue his recent goalscoring form, and wasted a glorious chance five minutes from time.
David Luiz, later seen crying pitch-side, was Chelsea's outstanding performer by a long way, whilst young Brazilian forward Lucas Piazon publically stated his disappointment that Corinthians displayed more courage and passion, and his was far from an isolated view.
Chelsea, much like their European opponents Barcelona and Bayern Munich last year, were the better side defeated by a team with determination and passion in abundance. The Brazilians constantly put pressure on and displayed excellent defensive football through their clever positioning, cheered on by their 20,000-strong support inside the ground.
It has long been recognised that the South Americans value this tournament more than European sides, and that could have been no better reflected than here. The constantly working figure of Guerrero provided the perfect contrast to the performance from Torres, and whilst the majority of the Chelsea side found themselves lying disconsolate on the pitch at full-time, by that point it was too late, and the effects may only reveal themselves in due course.
A 12,000-mile round-trip is a long way to travel to come home with nothing but a suspension for Gary Cahill. The players and Benitez only have themselves to blame and Chelsea have now lost out on four of the seven competitions they entered into at the start of the season.
Chelsea could find themselves as low as seventh by the time they face Aston Villa in their next league game, and perhaps that is where we can recognise the true significance of the Club World Cup on the European champions. First up, they face Leeds United on Wednesday night, another game where they will have to be wary of opponents who place a huge value on the contest.