CHELSEA have become even stronger favourites to become Club World Champions for the first time after the tournament draw in Zurich.
Thomas Tuchel’s Blues will face a semi-final against Asian champions Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia or the winners of the preliminary tie between Auckland City and Al Jazeera of the UAE.
They are then on course for a showdown with Copa Libertadores winners Palmeiras of Brazil in the Final, although the South Americans first have to get past Mexico’s Monterrey or Egypt’s African champs Al Ahly.
It represents the easiest possible route for the Stamford Bridge outfit after months of uncertainty.
Chelsea had been due to travel to Japan for the tournament this month.
But Covid issues forced the planned hosts to give up the tournament and it was only in October that Fifa confirmed the matches will now be played in the UAE in February.
It means that Chelsea’s scheduled Prem game at Brighton on February 8 and the London derby against Arsenal due for February 12 will be postponed and rescheduled.
Chelsea are aiming to become the third Prem side to win the title since it was launched in 2000, following Manchester United in 2008 and Liverpool in 2019.
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The Stamford Bridge outfit, then under the hand of Rafa Benitez, lost in the 2013 Final to Brazil’s Corinthians, with Gary Cahill sent off as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat in Yokohama.
Former Chelsea skipper John Terry was supposed to be part of the draw ceremony but the forced 10-day quarantine for UK visitors to Switzerland, imposed over the weekend, prevented him from travelling.
The Swiss nation took the drastic measure in a bid to contain the new deadly strain of coronavirus – Omicron.
As it stands this morning, The Sun reported there are currently 14 cases of Omicron across Britain, with the figure set to steadily increase throughout the day.
Scotland have reported nine cases so far, with others popping up in Australia, Italy, Germany, South Africa, Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong, Czech Republic and Israel.
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