Chelsea will bid to add a first FIFA Club World Cup to their trophy cabinet on Sunday 16 December. The Champions League winners have had a chequered year so far, with the highs of wins against Barcelona and Bayern Munich balanced by the unceremonious sackings of Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo. Now, with ex-Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez at the helm, Roman Abramovich's expensively assembled first team will face Brazilian outfit Corinthians at the International Stadium in Yokohama, Japan.
Where to Watch Live
Kick-off is set for 10.30am GMT. Live coverage is available on BBC Two and BBC HD.
Corinthians finished sixth in the Brasileirao 2012 table, with 57 points from their 38 games. Tite's men will not be happy with that result. Brazil's richest club, in terms of revenue, were the defending champions at the start of the football season in Brazil (in May) but a slow start to the season - four defeats in the first six games - meant they conceded too much ground to the likes of Fluminense, Atletico Mineiro, Gremio and Sao Paulo.
The good news for fans, however, is that the club finished the season strongly, with a run of four wins between the end of October and early November, and come into this game with five wins in their last seven fixtures. More importantly, except for a 3-1 defeat to Sao Paulo, the club conceded only three times in the final stretch of the 2012 domestic campaign, meaning Benitez's Blues may have to work harder to find the back of the net than they did against Mexicans CF Monterrey in the semi-final.
Corinthians beat Egyptians Al Ahly 1-0 in their semi-final, with Peruvian striker Paolo Guerrero scoring on the half-hour mark. The match itself was largely a cagey affair, with possession split down the middle and chances on goal a rarity.
Meanwhile, Chelsea come into this game as the undoubted favourites and the glamour team that the underdog Brazilians would love to beat. The Blues dispatched Monterrey with a stylish 3-1 win in their semi-final, with Spanish international Fernando Torres scoring one goal and making another.
The £50m signing from Liverpool has struggled to reproduce any kind of goal scoring form since his 2011 transfer but suddenly, with the arrival of his manager from his Anfield days, El Nino is once again a goal threat. The 28-year-old has scored five times in his last three games and will be a key man in this final.
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): W L D W W
- Last Match: Al Ahly 0 - 1 Corinthians
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): W W W L D
- Last Match: CF Monterrey 1 - 3 Chelsea
Tite is likely to retain the same side that saw off the threat from Al Alhy, with a very un-Brazilian 4-2-2-2 formation in play. The side will line up rather more conventionally though, with Paulo Andre, Fabio Santos, Chiaco and Alessandro the back line in front of goalkeeper Cassio.
Defensive midfielders Ralf and Paulinho will anchor the side and, like Chelsea, are unlikely to offer too much space in the final third, between themselves and the defensive lines. This means the Blues' attacking quartet will have to work hard to find room to manoeuvre, which could provide a tough test for Torres. The Spaniard was particularly dangerous during his time at Anfield and in Spain because of his ability to drift into space - his first goal in the 1-3 defeat of Sunderland at the Stadium of Light is an example. If he can reproduce that same movement, Corinthians could have a hard match.
Paulinho will be particularly closely watched by Benitez, amid reports the Premier League club could make a January bid for his services.
Going forward, Corinthians' Douglas, Emerson, Guerrero and Danilo work well together, with the first and last of the quartet likely to man the wings and provide ammunition for the other two. However, because Ralf and Paulinho may well sit deeper than they did in the semi-final (to counter, at least initially, the threats from Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and compatriot Oscar), expect the wide men to drift into the centre and try to pull Chelsea's defenders out of position.
Probable Line-Up: Cassio; Alessandro, Andre, Chicao, Santos; Ralf, Paulinho; Danilo, Douglas; Emerson, Guerrero
Chelsea came through the semi-final with no added injury worries, meaning that Benitez is likely to name the same starting line-up. What will be interesting though, is to see if Benitez continues with the David Luiz experiment in midfield.
The Brazilian was named as one of a two-man defensive midfield pivot (with Nigerian John Obi Mikel) and he performed reasonably well. Of course, Benitez had little choice, given the lack of options available to him at the moment. Nevertheless, Luiz did well enough to suggest he will retain that position for this game and even offer a long-term alternative in the position, should Benitez (or whoever takes on the Chelsea job next season) need cover.
The Blues will name a standard side otherwise, with Petr Cech defended by Cesar Azpilicueta, Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole. Up front, expect Mata, Oscar and Hazard to support Torres well... Benitez seems to have put the club's first choice attackers on the same wavelength, and the movement in the final third over the last two or three games, bodes well for Chelsea's future.
Probable Line-Up: Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole; Luiz, Obi Mikel; Hazard, Mata, Oscar; Torres