Club World Cup 2012 Team Intros: Chelsea

Having claimed a miraculous maiden Champions League crown back in May, the Blues are looking to create more history in Japan, with Rafael Benitez gunning for his second triumph
By Liam Twomey

The 2012 Club World Cup is underway, and is set to cap off the year in football as some of the world's most well-known clubs battle it out to be named the best.

In this series, presents to you each of the seven teams taking part in this highly-anticipated competition. Here, we profile Chelsea.

Founded by local businessman Gus Mears in 1905, Chelsea have spent much of their history in the top -flight of English football. Success in the form of major trophies, however, eluded them until 1955, when under the tutelage of former Arsenal striker Ted Drake they won the league title for the first time.

In the decades that followed, the Blues established themselves as a club with considerable pedigree in cup competitions, winning the League Cup in 1965, the FA Cup in 1970 and the Cup Winners’ Cup, the club’s first European honour, the following year.

Having suffered a decline in fortunes for much of the 1970s and 80s, Chelsea enjoyed a spectacular revival in the 1990s, as the arrival of foreign stars such as Gianfranco Zola, Ruud Gullit, Gianluca Vialli, Roberto Di Matteo and Gus Poyet propelled the club to two FA Cups, a League Cup, a second Cup Winners’ Cup triumph and a Uefa Super Cup victory in three years from 1997 to 2000.

In 2003 the financially-stricken Blues were taken over by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, and the new owner’s vast investment almost instantly transformed the club into a genuine powerhouse on the domestic and European stage.

In 2005 a second league title was won in the club’s centenary year, and two more have since followed, along with seven other trophies, making this the most successful era in Chelsea’s history. Last season the Blues became the first London club to win the Champions League, qualifying them for their first ever Club World Cup campaign.
For much of the Abramovich era, Chelsea have boasted a strong, athletic and powerful spine consisting of the likes of Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, and favoured a direct style of play designed to maximise the influence of the Ivory Coast frontman.

But with the Chelsea owner desiring a shift to a more expansive passing style, inspired by the great Barcelona side of Pep Guardiola, Drogba has departed, and the attacking half of the team has been moulded around the creative trio of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar.

The Blues now look to press the opposition high up the pitch when out of possession, and to employ fast and imaginative combination play to unlock defences when on the ball. The centre-backs are encouraged to play short passes out of defence, while the full-backs are expected to double up as auxiliary wingers.

Interim coach Rafael Benitez is currently attempting to ally Abramovich’s attacking vision with the organised and compact style of defending he became renowned for at Valencia and Liverpool – with decidedly mixed results so far.
THE STAR | Juan Mata

He may only have been at Stamford Bridge for around 18 months, but Juan Mata has already become a firm favourite with the Chelsea faithful. The diminutive Spaniard needed no time to settle into life in west London following his 30 million move from Valencia, scoring on his debut in a 3-1 home victory over Norwich.

Mata went on to sparkle in the midst of a season of great upheaval, scoring key goals on the Blues’ miraculous Champions League run, and delivering the pin-point corner-kick delivery which enabled Drogba to head home and send the Champions League final against Bayern Munich into extra-time.

The summer signings of Hazard and Oscar appear to have raised Mata’s game to another level this term, enabling him to add more goals and assists to his already impressive repertoire and emerge as one of the Premier League's biggest stars.

THE SYMBOL | Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard signed for Chelsea for a fee of £11 million from West Ham in 2001. He established himself as a regular in the blues' starting XI with John Terry during the 2001-02 season, playing a pivotal role in the most successful period in the club’s history.

As second-in-command to Terry, Lampard has helped to create a stability of leadership in the locker room, particularly in the Abramovich era, which has seen nine coaches hired in as many seasons.

Lampard has racked up nearly 600 appearances for Chelsea across all competitions; his time has declined in recent years due to injuries, and he'll surely be itching to add a few more winners’ medals to his collections before finally hanging up his boots.

Oscar took just 33 minutes of his full Chelsea debut against Juventus to capture the hearts and fire the imaginations of Blues fans and neutral observers alike, touching the ball around a bewildered Andrea Pirlo before curling an outrageous effort beyond the great Gianluigi Buffon from 25 yards out.

The fresh-faced Brazilian scored twice in that game, and has four goals to his name in this year's Champions League, even as his new team have floundered in the defence of their European crown. Throughout his first few months in England, he has consistently produced the kind of skill, vision and poise which hint at a genuine superstar in the making.

The Club World Cup will provide a further opportunity for the 21-year-old to hone his prodigious talent, but also a chance at redemption. Two years ago, a 19-year-old Oscar came on for the final 14 minutes of Brazilian giants Internacional’s shock semi-final defeat at the hands of Congolese champions TP Mazembe. He will want to get his hands on this year’s trophy more than most.
  • When he acquired Stamford Bridge athletics stadium in 1904 with the aim of turning it into a football ground, Gus Mears originally offered to lease it to Fulham. It was only when the Cottagers declined that Mears elected to found his own club to use the stadium, and Chelsea was born.
  • Chelsea, along with Arsenal, were the first English club to wear numbers on the back of their shirts in an official Football League match, for a game against Swansea City on August 25, 1928.
  • This will be Rafa Benitez’s third Club World Cup campaign, having lost to Sao Paulo with Liverpool in 2005 and triumphed with Inter over Estudiantes in 2010. If Chelsea win the trophy, he will draw level with fellow Spaniard Pep Guardiola, who has two winners’ medals earned with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011.


Benitez will almost certainly stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation Chelsea have consistently employed this season, although the personnel is likely to change drastically between the semi-final and any potential final, as the Blues boss looks to avoid fatigue in a squad clearly drained of energy and confidence by a packed domestic Christmas schedule.

Those on the fringes of the starting XI, such as the likes of Victor Moses, Oriol Romeu, Marko Marin, Ryan Bertrand, Lucas Piazon and Daniel Sturridge will all expect to be given some game time – most likely in the last-four clash with either Ulsan Hyundai or Monterrey. While captain John Terry will miss the tournament with a knee injury, Frank Lampard is expected to be healthy enough to take the pitch.

Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Bertrand
Lampard, Romeu
Moses, Mata, Marin