Chelsea face Monterrey in the semi-final of the FIFA Club World Cup on Thursday with Corinthians awaiting in the final. The Brazilian side were unconvincing in their second half performance against Egyptian side Al-Ahly on Wednesday and that will give further credence to Chelsea’s already expected favourites tag.
However first they have to topple Mexican side Monterrey. Before the tournament not many would have given the CONCACAF champions a chance of defeating Chelsea in the tournament but after an impressive quarter final display against South Korean side Ulsan Hyundai that picture has changed slightly and Chelsea must approach the game with tempered caution.
The Mexican side played a stylish possession controlling game that Ulsan Hyundai just could not contend with. It is that contrast of styles that has been interesting so far in the Club World Cup. The pace of the Premier League is something that has been spoken of to the point of cliché. However it is clear that this style of play is not replicated around the world. Corinthians played a slower tempo and so do Monterrey. By no means does it mean a worse tempo; Monterrey are composed and controlled in possession while their defence also looks solid with plenty of experience blended with youthful promise.
Their main threat is likely to come from the three players who tore apart Ulsan at will in the quarters. Jesus Corona is a talented teenager while Aldo de Nigris is a Mexican international and then there is Cesar Delgado; the one-time Lyon player and Argentine veteran rolled back the years on the world stage this weekend by grabbing two goals to cap off an impressive performance.
In the final third the side retain possession well and are not afraid to try play beyond opposing defences. With their attacking quality this is no surprise as everyone is looking to run in behind the defence.
The goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco could be a weak link and if in range Chelsea players should not be afraid to have a pop from outside the box to test his somewhat iffy handling.
There is some good news as Humberto Suazo, the clubs record goal-scorer, has returned to Mexico with a thigh strain. That news should be treated cautiously as in his absence the young forward Jesus Corona looks in good form after a previously underwhelming Apertura campaign in his homeland.
If Chelsea can break up Monterrey’s impressive passing in the final third it should expose their overall lack in depth. They made no substitutes against Ulsan until the 90th minute showing the faith the manager Victor Vucetich has to place in his starting XI considering their injury troubles.
If Chelsea can force them back into taking long-shots in hope there should be little doubt of the final result.
Do you think Monterrey could spring a surprise?
image: © jikatu