Chelsea finally got confirmation of the dates from FIFA for the Club World Cup in 2022.
The competition which was originally scheduled to take place in Japan this month has been moved to the UAE in the new year with COVID-19 causing confusion and continued delays over its placement in the 2021/22 calendar.
The confirmation of the draw on Monday evening also revealed that the tournament will take place between the 3rd and 12th February with Chelsea facing one of either Al Hilal, Al Jazira or Auckland City in their semi-final.
The European Champions could then face Copa Libertadores winners Palmeiras in the final if Thomas Tuchel’s men get through.
Speculation over the dates for the tournament in recent months has felt pretty vital for Chelsea given the added element of the African Cup of Nations which takes place in January.
With Edouard Mendy certain to be representing Senegal at AFCON with Hakim Ziyech also a potential pick for Morocco, the duo could miss a run of league fixtures that include clashes with Manchester City and Spurs.
Although Ziyech has had some bright moments in recent weeks, it is Mendy’s absence which is of greater concern given how vital he has become to Chelsea since his signing from Rennes in 2020.
If the Club World Cup would have been moved to January, the blow of losing Mendy might have felt less concerning with Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal for the FIFA tournament with the crucial domestic fixtures having to be rescheduled to a later date.
Now in February, the fixtures away to Brighton and at home to Arsenal will now both be postponed, shifted later into the calendar which can bring its own headaches with fixture congestion. Adding in the Blues progression to the knockout stage of the Champions League and the early rounds of the FA Cup.
Tuchel was asked about the situation on Tuesday before the Watford game.
“As I understand it, they will both be back, even if they play the [Africa Cup of Nations] final. It will be in Abu Dhabi, I guess, or wherever it is going to be played in February.
“There is still December and January to play. I can tell you that I don’t break my head at all about the Club World Cup, this is zero percent in my head.
“My focus is on Watford, in the selection and the rotation in my head, what we did against Man Utd, and the preparation for this game. Then we look further because we have an evening game and then a Saturday game at 12.30 pm, so we need to be aware of the lack of time of recovery time that we have in between.
“There is zero focus now on the Club World Cup.”
As Tuchel rightly points out there is a lot of football to be played before Chelsea reach the Club World Cup in 2022, but there is little doubt a player of Mendy’s importance missing for a potentially defining period of the season is a setback.
When you consider a major injury to Ben Chilwell and the injury concerns we have currently ahead of the winter schedule. Tuchel’s inventive use of talent will have to come to the fore, hoping to emerge from January’s big tests still firmly in the title race.
Chelsea fans are desperate to see the club capture the Club World Cup, the only major trophy left to win, though the timing of that tournament could prove detrimental to Tuchel’s title charge.
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Source by Football London