European champions Chelsea face Brazilian side Palmeiras on Saturday in the FIFA Club World Cup final out in Abu Dhabi.
Both sides will be aiming to lift the trophy for the first time in their respective club’s history after previously failing to do so.
The Blues overcame Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Hilal on Wednesday, with their opponents beating Al-Ahly to get to the final with goals from Raphael Veiga and Dudu.
Chelsea flew to the Middle East off the back of two important wins, beating London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the league and League One Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup fourth-round - where they were taken to extra-time by the Pilgrims.
Abel Fereira’s Palmeiras will be out for revenge too, as they suffered semi-final heartbreak in the same competition last season.
They did however, become the first side to retain the Copa Libertadores trophy since 2001 in the 2020/21 campaign, as they defeated Brazilian counterparts Flamengo in a thrilling final, ending 2-1 thanks to Deyverson’s extra-time winner.
The Alviverde finished third in the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A in the previous campaign and have kicked off the new term in fantastic form, winning three and drawing one of their opening four regional outings in the Campeonato Paulista. They are unbeaten in their previous six games in all competitions.
The biggest boost for Chelsea may possibly be Thomas Tuchel’s negative PCR test. The Blues’ boss was pictured joining up with his players earlier on Friday. The German returned a positive Covid test ahead of the game against Plymouth Argyle, with assistant Zsolt Low taking charge of first-team training and Chelsea’s previous outing.
First choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy could return to the starting line-up as he also joined up with the squad earlier this week after enjoying a triumphant Africa Cup of Nations. Kepa Arrizabalaga has impressed in the Senegalese international’s absence though, keeping a clean sheet in the semi-final.
Although full-backs Reece James and Ben Chilwell are with the squad in Abu Dhabi, both aren’t fit for selection.
Mason Mount could come back into the starting line-up after being used as a substitute against Al-Hilal.
Opponents Palmeiras put up an impressive display in the semi-final earlier this week, and an unchanged line-up would come as no surprise to anyone. All players part of the Brazilian contingent are fully fit.
Chelsea: Kepa; Christensen, Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Mount, Lukaku, Ziyech
Palmeiras: Weverton; Rocha, Gomez, Luan, Piquerez; Danila, Rafael; Dudu, Veiga, Scarpa; Rony
Ones to watch
For the Brazilian’s, keep a close eye on Tuesday’s goal-scorer Raphael Veiga. The attacking midfielder betted 18 times in 54 appearances last season and providing four assists. The 26-year-old is a local boy for Palmeiras, born and raised in São Paulo.
On his return to the Premier League, Lukaku has sparked an outrage from within, after holding an interview expressing his disinterest of being at Chelsea as well as his love for Inter Milan. With all the background noise, the Belgian international has netted five times in 16 league appearances, scoring the goal to bring Chelsea where they are.
How to watch
The first fixture between these two sides will be aired in the UK on Channel 4, with coverage starting at 4pm GMT. Kick-off is at 4:30pm.