Chelsea are already the reigning European champions, and next week they’ll try to conquer the world when they make their return to the FIFA Club World Cup.
[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]
This year’s Club World Cup comes immediately on the heels of the recent international window for players from CONCACAF, South American and Asian nations — a newly created window to accommodate 2022 World Cup qualifying — forcing most leagues across Europe to pause their fixtures last weekend, thus creating further fixture congestion for players at a time when Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is explicitly
calling pleading for fewer games.
Thomas Tuchel has tested positive for COVID-19, as he missed Chelsea’s FA Cup game against Plymouth and will not travel with the team for the tournament.
It remains to be seen if he will actually be heading to Abu Dhabi for the tournament next week, as he will now have to follow self-isolation and testing protocols in the UK.
“The Chelsea head coach will now follow necessary self-isolation protocols and hopes to join up with the team in Abu Dhabi later next week. The team fly out for the Club World Cup following this afternoon’s [Saturday] FA Cup clash with Plymouth Argyle.”
[ LIVE: Club World Cup scores, updates ]
Back on the pitch, Tuchel had this to say about the Club World Cup ahead of this weekend.
“In this one year now at Chelsea, we’ve had 67 matches or something like this,” Tuchel said. “And then if you add European competitions, qualifiers for the national team players, and more, it’s immense and the effort is huge. Now, it’s about quantity and not about quality. The people want to see quality football and the quality players, and for this they need rest — not be injured and healthy. We need a leaner schedule.”
[ MORE: Premier League January transfer window grades | Transfer list ]
Alas, Chelsea will begin their Club World Cup campaign next Wednesday (Feb. 9), when they face the winner of Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia) vs Al Jazira (United Arab Emirates) in the semifinal round.
Brazilian giants and Copa Libertadores winners Palmeiras headline the other half of the bracket, which also features CONCACAF Champions League winners Monterrey from Mexico and Egyptian giants Al Ahly.
How to watch Club World Cup (in USA)
TV: FS2, Fox Deportes
Live updates on NBCSports.com
Chelsea injuries & team news
QUESTIONABLE: Andreas Christensen (COVID-19), Trevoh Chalobah (thigh) | OUT: Edouard Mendy (international duty), Reece James (thigh), Ben Chilwell (knee)
[ MORE: Full Premier League injury report ]
Club World Cup schedule & results
Thursday, Feb. 3
Match 1 (first round): Al Jazira (United Arab Emirates) 4-1 AS Pirae (Tahiti)
Saturday, Feb. 5
Match 2 (second round): Al Ahly (Egypt) 1-0 Monterrey (Mexico)
Sunday, Feb. 6
Match 3 (second round): Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia) vs Al Jazira (United Arab Emirates)
Tuesday, Feb. 8
Match 4 (semifinals): Palmeiras (Brazil) vs Al Ahly (Egypt)
Wednesday, Feb. 9
Match 5 (semifinals): Match 3 winners vs Chelsea (England)
Match 6 (fifth-place): Match 2 losers vs Match 3 losers
Saturday, Feb. 12
Match 7 (third place): Match 4 losers vs Match 5 losers
Match 8 (final): Match 4 winners vs Match 5 winners