Chelsea won their first-ever FIFA Club World Cup title, defeating Palmeiras in the final. However, the Blues had to fight for 120 minutes to lift the club world cup trophy. Kai Havertz, who scored the winning goal in the Champions League final against Manchester City, once struck the winner against Palmeiras. Chelsea took the lead with Lukaku, but Raphael Veiga’s penalty for Palmeiras took the game to the extra-time. Another penalty from Havertz in the 117th minute finally brought home the trophy which eluded Chelsea in 2012. However, Peter Cech has now explained why Chelsea dropped Kepa Arrizabalaga in the final which raised eyebrows
One surprise in Chelsea’s triumph was Kepa Arrizabalaga’s omission from the starting eleven. In Edouard Mendy’s absence, Kepa was again trusted between the sticks. But as soon as Mendy returned, Kepa was dropped to the bench for the club world cup final. It was quite unjust to Kepa, but the club’s technical and performance advisor Peter Cech had something else to say.
Chelsea performance advisor Cech on dropping Kepa
Kepa covered for first-choice keeper Edouard Mendy after he left for the African Cup of Nations. Since his €80 million moves to Chelsea, Kepa had failed to live up to the expectations, and Mendy was brought to replace him in the goal. Mendy excelled for Chelsea, keeping 37 clean sheets and conceding a mere 48 goals in 71 appearances. However, recently in his absence, Kepa showed some mettle while keeping the goal. The Spaniard kept a massive 4 clean sheets in his 7 games.
Kepa played the club word cup semi-final too, keeping a clean sheet that helped Chelsea reach the final. Kepa was once again demoted to the bench with Mendy’s arrival as the Senegalese started the final. On asked about the decision.
Peter Cech has explained,
“We chose to go with Edou (Mendy) because he’s our number one goalkeeper, he came over here, trained, and is fit. I think it’s a hard decision to make but he’s our number one, he plays.”
Being the Chelsea performance advisor, Cech clearly emphasized Mendy being the club’s number one over Kepa and will play whenever available.
Club legend Drogba hails Chelsea players
Didier Drogba, who lost the 2012 club world cup with the Blues saw his beloved club lift the coveted trophy in UAE. Drogba later talked about being an inspiration to the current Chelsea team.
“The objective was to win the trophies, but also to inspire the next generations. Players like Callum Hudson-Odoi, Mason Mount, all the guys, to inspire them and, hopefully, winning another trophy,” said Drogba. “That’s exactly what they did. Another Champions League and then because they are competitors they remember they lost the FIFA Club World Cup, in 2012, so they knew how important this was for the club.”
Chelsea lost the club world cup to Corinthians in 2012, after they beat Bayern Munich in a dramatic Champions League final. Azpilicueta, who is the only member from that 2012 Chelsea team, also spoke about pretending to take the penalty instead of Havertz.
“It was a tactic because I knew how they are, I knew they were coming for the penalty taker, so I took the ball,” said the captain. Kai knew that he was going to shoot, so it was to release the pressure from him. It was a decisive moment and Kai is one of the best penalty takers.”
Since Chelsea lost it in 2012, owner Roman Abramovich only had one dream; to become the world champions by lifting the club world cup. Tuchel has now finally achieved Abramovich’s dream and completed the club’s trophy-set by winning the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, and the Club World Cup. Though Chelsea are out from the Premier League title race, they are still alive in three competitions. Chelsea plays Liverpool in the league cup final, and Luton Town in FA Cup 5th round. The Blues also face LOSC Lille in round 16 of the Champions League.
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