FIFA Club World Cup 2012 Team Intros: Chelsea

Having claimed a miraculous first Champions League crown back in May, the Blues are looking to create more history in Japan, with Rafa Benitez gunning for his second CWC triumph.
The 2012 FIFA Club World Cup is underway, and it 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 Japan.

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 has spent much of its history in the top -flight of English football. Success in the form of major trophies, however, eluded the Blues 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 honor, 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 UEFA Champions League, qualifying them for their first-ever Club World Cup campaign.
For much of the Abramovich era, Chelsea has boasted a strong, athletic and powerful spine consisting of the likes of Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, and favored a direct style of play designed to maximize 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 molded around the creative trio of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar.

The Blues now look to press the opposition high up the field when out of possession, and employ fast and imaginative combination play to unlock defenses when on the ball. The center backs are encouraged to play short passes out of the back, while the fullbacks are expected to double up as auxiliary wingers.

Interim coach Rafael Benitez is currently attempting to ally Abramovich’s attacking vision with the organized and compact style of defending he became known 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 favorite with the Chelsea faithful. The diminutive Spaniard needed no time to settle into life in West London following his 30 million-euro 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 pinpoint corner kick that enabled Drogba to head home the equalizer 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 SYMBOLS | John Terry and Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard signed for Chelsea for a fee of 11 million pounds from West Ham in 2001. John Terry had made the same move as a 14-year-old some six years earlier, but the pair established themselves as regular fixtures in the Blues' starting XI at the same time, during the 2001-02 season. They have been so ever since, playing pivotal roles in the most successful period in the club’s history.

Terry is club captain, Lampard his second-in-command. Together the pair have provided not only individual quality but also the stability of leadership, particularly in the Abramovich era, which has seen nine coaches hired in as many seasons.

Between them, the pair has racked up more than 1,000 appearances over the course of their Chelsea careers. In recent times, injuries have seen them feature less frequently than in previous years, and they will be itching to add a few more winners’ medals to their collections before finally hanging up their 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 he has four goals to his name in this year's Champions League, even as his new team floundered in the defense of its European crown. Throughout his first few months in England, he has consistently produced the kind of skill, vision and poise that 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 semifinal 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, was the first English club to wear numbers on the back of its  shirts in an official Football League match, for a game against Swansea City on Aug. 25, 1928.
  • This will be Rafa Benitez’s third Club World Cup campaign, having lost to Sao Paulo with Liverpool in 2005 and winning the crown with Inter over Estudiantes in 2010. If Chelseas win the trophy, he will draw level with fellow Spaniard Pep Guardiola, who has two CWC winners’ medals earned with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011.


Benitez will almost certainly stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation Chelsea has consistently employed this season, although the personnel is likely to change drastically between the semifinal 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 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 Terry and Lampard are both expected to be fit again and should also get their moments on the field.

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