Chelsea fail to live up to their pre-tournament expectations as their season goes from bad to worse after losing 1-0 to Corinthians in the Club World Cup final.
Trophies seem to be slipping through the fingers of the European Champions. The defeat in the Club World Cup continued Chelsea's miserable run in cup competitions that has seen them exit the Champions League and defeats in the Community Shield and UEFA Super Cup. "It's a matter of trying to put them in the best mood possible," said Rafael Benítez whose side now travel back 6000 miles to face their fierce rivals Leeds United in the Capital One Cup.
This was one of those moments for Benitez to try to win over the Chelsea fans who have booed him ever since he stepped foot at Stamford Bridge. This was Benitez's second defeat in his three Club World Cup finals having previously failed with Liverpool in 2005. Chelsea became the first Champions League holders to fail to win the Club World Cup after the last six editions.
|Paolo Guerrero's header won it for Corinthians|
Benitez made quite a few changes to the side that beat FC Monterrey in the semi-finals. Victor Moses, Frank Lampard, Ramires all came in as Oscar, Cesar Azpilicueta and John Obi Mikel were dropped to the bench. Benitez changed the tactics from the last game by shifting David Luiz into his more natural position at the back. Corinthians on the other hand made just one change as they dropped Douglas for Jorge Enrique in order to neutralise Chelsea's midfield pivot.
Chelsea were a shadow of themselves on the big night. There was a change in mood and tempo in this Chelsea performance. Corinthians, who were touted by many as the underdogs, slowly and steadily started to take control of the game and it was no surprise when former Bayern Munich player Paolo Guerrero headed them in front.
Luiz, Ashley Cole and Ramires all were on the goal line but none reacted quickly enough to stop Guerrero's looping header. Their defense looked out of sorts with Cahill arguably having his worst game in a Chelsea shirt often dominated by Emerson. His night never looked like improving as his controversial red card late on deepened Chelsea's woes. Luiz on the other hand continued his impressive display in the tournament as he was up against the club he supported as a boy and was the only Chelsea defender who looked capable of stopping the pacey Brazilians.
It must be noted that one of the reasons for Benitez's appointment was to revive Fernando Torres's career at Chelsea and although the striker looked in good form going into this game, his performance on the night hardly showed signs of his revival. Torres looked frustrated as he failed to continue his goal scoring form.
|Fernando Torres failed again|
Torres got Chelsea's best chance of the game when his shot from 4 yards out was saved by Cassio. Torres had all the time in the world to have easily placed that ball past Cassio, but instead he went with power and saw his shot drop straight into Cassio's hands. It was a moment for the Spaniard to show the fans that he is their talisman in the absence of Didier Drogba and force the game into extra time. Torres's woes deepened late on when his late stoppage time header found the back of the net but he was adjudged offside by the linesman. Chelsea's lack of striking options left them with no choice but to stick with Torres who never looked like scoring.
It has been said before that Chelsea's pivot has been one of the key reason's for their downfall and it was made even more clear by the Brazilian side. Benitez decided to hand Frank Lampard a start for the first time since his return from injury against Shakhtar Donetsk alongside Ramires. The two central midfielders failed to match the pace and power of the Brazilians during the counter-attacks similar to what happened when they faced Atletico Madrid in the Super Cup.
Paulinho, a player wanted by Chelsea and many other European clubs outclassed the two Chelsea central midfielders with his pace and muscular presence in midfield. It was a questionable move by Benitez to change his tactics all of a sudden by shifting Luiz from the midfield. Luiz made use of his pace and strength to dominate Monterrey's midfield in the last game, the same attributes Chelsea lacked against their Brazilian opposition in the final.
One of the key reasons for Chelsea's poor display was the way Brazilians managed to stop the trio behind Fernando Torres. Juan Mata and Eden Hazard have been key to Chelsea's goal scoring success this season and it was clear Chelsea failed to create clear opportunities when they failed to click. Victor Moses shifted his wings midway into the first half after being frustrated by the Brazilian full back Fabio Santos. This shift showed positive signs as Moses' curling effort brought the "moment of the game" as Cassio went full stretch to fingertip the ball past the post. Cassio stamped his authority in the contest keeping the European champions out on numerous occasions.
It's hard to argue that the result was anything but fair. Corinthians were organized, disciplined and made most of their chances. They outclassed Chelsea on numerous occasions and the 20,000 travelling Brazilian supporters were not disappointed with their team's performance.
Benitez has now been left with a daunting task to rejuvenate this Chelsea side as they travel to Leeds next. What many considered could be the turning point for Chelsea's season turned out to be a damaging experience for the London club.
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