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FIFA Club World Cup Threatens To Upend Chelsea’s Season

Club World Cup

European champions Chelsea will play Al Hilal, Al Jazira or Auckland City in the semi-final of the Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates in February.

UAE champions Al Jazira and Oceania representatives Auckland meet in the first round, with the winner of that tie facing Asian champions Al Hilal.

Recently crowed Copa Libertadores winners Palmeiras will face Al Ahly or Monterrey in the other semi-final

The tournament, which includes the champions of each continent (although Auckland were selected as there was no OFC Champions League) and the champions of the host country, will take place from 3 to 12 February 2022. The tournament was originally due to be held in Japan in December, but was moved to the UAE due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Liverpool (2019) and Manchester United (2008) are the only previous English winners, with Chelsea losing to Corinthians in the 2012 final.

Chelsea’s involvement in the Club World Cup will mean their Premier League games with Brighton and Arsenal have to be rearranged.

The Blues were due to travel to Brighton on Tuesday, February 8 and then host Arsenal on Saturday, February 12.

However, the Brighton game would have clashed with Chelsea’s semi-final in the Club World Cup and, with both the final and third-place play-off for that competition taking place on February 12, the Blues will be otherwise engaged for the original Arsenal date.

It is yet to be confirmed when those Brighton and Arsenal fixtures will be moved to, but February will be a busy month for Chelsea.

They also have the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on the midweek of either February 15-16 or February 22-23, and Premier League games with Crystal Palace (February 19) and Leicester (February 26).

They could also be in FA Cup fourth round action on the weekend of February 5, before heading to the United Arab Emirates.

The tournament clashes with the Africa Cup of Nations – which ends on 6 February – meaning Chelsea could be without keeper Edouard Mendy and winger Hakim Ziyech if Senegal and Morocco respectively have good runs.

African champions Al Ahly could be without half their first-choice team of Egypt internationals, with former Tottenham striker Mido calling it “disrespectful to Africa”.

The tournament was set to take place in December in Japan but they pulled out as hosts because of the Covid-19 pandemic.