Chelsea ‘desperate’ to clinch Club World Cup success for the first time

Al-Hilal v Chelsea – FIFA Club World Cup – Semi Final – Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium
(Image credit: PA Wire)

Mateo Kovacic has insisted Chelsea are just as motivated to become club world champions as Brazilian opponents Palmeiras this weekend.

Croatia midfielder Kovacic has already tasted Club World Cup success twice, with Real Madrid in 2016 and 2017.

And now the 27-year-old is desperate to make it a hat-trick of world titles with Chelsea on Saturday.

Traditional wisdom dictates that South American teams treat the Club World Cup far more seriously than their European counterparts – but Kovacic stressed that is not the case.

“We know what it takes to come to such a big tournament because you need to win the Champions League, so we need to appreciate this moment and not take it for granted,” said Kovacic, who was man of the match in Chelsea’s slender 1-0 semi-final win over Al Hilal on Wednesday night.

“To reach a Club World Cup final is very difficult and we are there on Saturday.

“We are desperate to win this trophy. We could be the first team in Chelsea history to bring this trophy to London so we are happy that we are in such a big final and we will do everything to win it on Saturday.”

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Palmeiras will bring around 15,000 supporters to the final at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

The Sao Paolo side have never won the Club World Cup and are often taunted by their Brazilian rivals for that gap on their CV.

Kovacic expects a ferocious atmosphere given the Palmeiras contingent in the United Arab Emirates, but believes the Blues can cope with the pressure.

“We’ll need to do a good job again on Saturday because Palmeiras is a great team with very good players; they are aggressive with amazing fans so it will be a difficult game,” he said.

“But first we need to rest and then we will prepare.”

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Brazil stalwart Thiago Silva will doubtless be motivated against his compatriots and Kovacic reserved special praise for the evergreen 37-year-old.

“On Thiago, there is not too much to tell – he is one of, if not the, greatest defender of his generation,” Kovacic added.

“He has won almost everything and has brought so much experience to Chelsea. We are glad and so happy to have such a great player and great personality in our dressing room.”

Palmeiras were mobbed at the airport before flying out to Abu Dhabi, with their supporters desperate for success in the UAE.

Chelsea v Newcastle United – Premier League – Stamford Bridge

Zsolt Low, pictured, expects a stern test against Palmeiras in Saturday’s Club World Cup final (Adrian Dennis/PA)

Chelsea’s assistant coach Zsolt Low admitted the Blues are well aware of that Brazilian fervour, and are determined to cope with that off-field intensity.

“Before we travelled we watched a video of them leaving training to come here,” said Low.

“We saw a lot of pictures and videos of how their fans were celebrating and supporting the team. It’s amazing.

“They have amazing supporters for sure. In the final, 15,000 will be here maybe.

“I expect a big atmosphere but we are used to that from big Champions League games, big finals. We’re prepared for it.”

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