The story of Chelsea's first meeting with Club World Cup final opponents Corinthians

Ahead of the final in Yokohama on Sunday, looks back at the first encounter between the two clubs in 1929 and how it was received by the Brazilian media
By Fernando Ahuvia

Corinthians and Chelsea will meet for just the second time in their history when they battle it out in the Club World Cup final in Yokohama on Sunday.

The Copa Libertadores and Champions League winners' first and only encounter to date came 83 years ago in a friendly match at the home of Corinthians' fierce rivals Palmeiras.

In 1929, the London club prepared for their fifth straight season in the second tier of English football with a three-week trip to South America, which was usual practice for British clubs at the time.

Despite arriving in Santos, Chelsea actually began their pre-season tour with matches in Argentina and Uruguay, where they saw off the likes of Penarol, before travelling back to Brazil.

The Blues went to Rio de Janeiro, where they played two matches against a group of Rio players - losing one game and drawing the other - and then headed to Palmeiras.


While criticism of Chelsea and their manager ahead of their second-ever meeting with Corinthians has come largely from their own supporters, the first match between the two teams drew a scathing attack from the local press.

Chelsea raced into a three-goal lead through Willie Jackson, Andy Wilson and Sidney Elliot before a double from Gambinha and another goal from Grane levelled the scores at the break. De Maria made it 4-3 to complete the comeback but Elliot then scored again to seal a 4-4 draw and bring an eight-goal thriller to an end.

Not even the game's eight goals could silence the critics, though, as Sao Paulo's main newspapers slammed the Blues' playing style, with Folha da Manha particularly critical.

"There were no dribbles from Chelsea at all, and they suffered when they were passing the ball," read a report in the paper. "The midfielders are obscure, and can perform only what is expected of them. The defence has a strong guardian, who has to be highlighted. The centre-backs use way too many clearances, aiming to buy time, and have a bad habit of running forward and forcing the opponents to get offside.

"If I had to praise one of their front men, it would be this Elliot, a hard-working fellow who runs the attack. The only other player who deserves such praise is the goalkeeper. Another curious fact is the manner in which the professionals kick the ball: with the tip of their toes, not the best advice for anything other than special cases, like when the goal is near."

Chelsea ended their trip to South America with five wins, three draws and eight defeats.


Venue: Palestra Italia
Date: 04/07/1929
Referee: Angelo Benjamin Bevilacqua

Goals: Willie Jackson (0-1, 1st Half), Andy Wilson (0-2, 1H), Sidney Elliot (0-3, 1H), Gambinha (1-3, 1H), Grane (2-3, 1H), Gambinha (3-3, 1H), De Maria (4-3, 2H), e Sidney Elliot (4-4, 2H).

CORINTHIANS: Tuffy; Grane (c), Del Debbio; Nerino, Guimaraes, Leone; Apparicio, Peres, Gambinha, Rato, De Maria. Coach: Virgílio Montarini.

CHELSEA: Sam Millington; George Smith, Tommy Law (c); William Russell, George Rodger, Sid Bishop; John Meredith, Jackie Crawford, Sidney Elliot, Andy Wilson, Willie Jackson.
Coach: David Calderhead.

There is a rather curious fact about the date when the friendly was played: 4 July, 1929. The same date in 2012 when Corinthians beat Boca Juniors 2-0 at São Paulo and claimed their first Libertadores trophy.