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Al-Hilal v CHELSEA: Club World Cup Preview

Date: Wednesday 8th February 2022

Venue: Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium

Kick-off: 16:30 GMT

No sooner had we finished playing Plymouth Argyle at the weekend, than our players were heading to Abu Dhabi for this afternoon’s semi-final of the Club World Cup – at least the quick turnaround meant less time to dwell on the fact we literally scraped past Plymouth in the fourth round of the FA Cup.  Anyway, enough said about that the better.

This afternoon’s game sees us face Al-Hilal, who qualified for the Club World Cup by winning the AFC Champions League. Al-Hilal are fourth in the Saudi league, 13 points behind league leaders Al- Ittihad. They seem to be in decent form too, with just one defeat in their last eight games in all competitions, and they beat Al Jazira 6-1 in the second round to reach the semi-finals, so their attack could cause up problems.

As for Chelsea, we sit 3rd in the Premier League, 10 points off the leaders, who also have a game in hand of us.  Ahead of the narrow win in the cup at the weekend, we had a more comfortable win in the league against Sp*rs. In fact, it’s a shame we can’t play them every week since they’re one of the few sides we’ve looked motivated against.

Obviously, we qualified for the Club World Cup by winning the Champions League last term and come into the tournament as favourites. The weekend should serve as somewhat of a warning for anyone assuming we’ll walk this though. Whether it’s about mentality, arrogance, or lack of commitment, we just aren’t at our best when we’re favourites. Start celebrating your success before you even play us though, and we’ll gladly accept that sort of challenge and watch Havertz score on repeat for the next 12 months. We missed out on this cup against Corinthians in the 2021 final, so hopefully that will provide some sort of motivation in the absence of Tuchel again, otherwise, the question of whether or not he’ll make it out for the final will be largely irrelevant.


Going into today’s game, Al-Hilal manager Leonardo Jardim, says “I’d like to give a warning to FIFA and I find it unfair some teams have to play four matches in eight days and other teams have to play two matches with their teams not rested. I’m sure that the European teams, in this case Chelsea and previously Liverpool, are always the favourites. No doubt about that but we have additional favouritism when Al Hilal has two days to recover and the 24 players are all the same, but one team comes out fresh. Our victory from the previous match mirrors that: Al Jazira had difficulties in the second half. If they were rested the match would have been different I think, especially in the second half.”

In the absence of Thomas Tuchel, assistant coach Zsolt Low, meanwhile, says We know Al Hilal, we watched the game on Sunday with the coaching staff. We saw two very good teams with a lot of quality. They came better into the game and in the end it was a big win for them. We know they won the Asia Cup a lot of times. It’s a very good team, we know a lot of players. They have players from different situations. Marega from Porto we know fro mthe Champions League. We know Ighalo from Watford in England. They have good quality up front, can score a lot of goals. We expected a difficult game tomorrow. Al Hilal is a very dangerorus team, a strong attacking force. Pereira, Marega. They have experience and normally try to be offensive. We have to be solid to try. The intensity of the Premier League we have to bring here. It’s a semi-final and of course we have to work hard to get into the final.

We have to take the role [of favourites] after winning the Champions League. We know we’re a good team and play a good game but Al Hilal are very good, with an experienced coach from some big clubs. He’s a very good coach, a very good team. We take the role as favourite but for sure it can be a difficult game.”


For Al-Hilal, there are no new injury concerns.

For Chelsea, Ben Chilwell (knee) remains out long term and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (knock) and Reece James (hamstring) also miss out. Mason Mount is a doubt after going off injured against Plymouth and Edouard Mendy is unlikely to take part in this one having only just finished celebrating Sadio Mane winning the Africa Cup of Nations.


AL-HILAL (Possible line-up): Al Maiouf; Abdul Hamid, Hyun-Soo, Ali Bulaihi, Al Shahrani; Kanno, Cuellar; Marega, Pereira, Al Dawsari; Ighalo

CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Kepa; Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Rudiger, Alonso; Kovacic, Kante, Hudson-Odoi; Werner, Havertz, Ziyech





  • Chelsea have never won the Club World Cup
  • Chelsea last played in the competition after winning the 2012 Champions League final (losing to Corinthians)
  • Al-Hilal are unbeaten in their last 6 games
  • Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 3 games competitions
  • Al-Hilal have lost once in their last 8 games in all competitions


Sportsmole: Al-Hilal 1-2 Chelsea



Blue is the colour is an honest insight to the World of Chelsea FC. Not always pretty, sometimes rather cynical, but always realistic.


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