Chelsea takes a third of them in the world series of football and maybe wants more.
They are in the finals for Carabao Finals against Liverpool.
But today was another day and another tournament.
They saved the drama until the eleventh hour, or the 118th minute to be precise, but at the end of it all Kai Havertz’s penalty meant that finally, Chelsea could count themselves as world champions, joining Manchester United and Liverpool among the pantheon of English clubs afforded that honour.
Abu Dhabi will now be added to Munich and Porto as historic city venues for this club and just as in Portugal, it was Havertz who will write his name in the Chelsea annals.
In front of vociferous and passionate Palmeiras fans in the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium on the edge of the Arabian Desert, Chelsea collected the one trophy they hadn’t previously secured.
It wasn’t their finest hour nor the most elegantly won trophy. Yet, after a contest in which they had dominated possession, switched to 4-2-4 for extra time, and at least attempted to seize the initiative even if their fluidity was somewhat lacking, they had earned it by the end.
They had travelled far and wide to get here. Edouard Mendy, starting in goal having flown in from Cameroon, a African Nations’ winner last weekend and a world champion this weekend.
Thomas Tuchel had just about made it time from Covid isolation from London to secure the second historic trophy of his reign, which is still just over a year in.
Chelsea were crowned champions of the world after beating Palmeiras 2-1 in the Club World Cup final on Saturday evening
Captain Cesar Azpilicueta (centre) lifted the golden trophy in the Arabian desert of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates
Forward Kai Havertz (right) scored the decisive goal, finishing from the penalty spot in the 118th minute, deep into extra time
The penalty was awarded after Azpilicueta’s header from a Hakim Ziyech corner was ruled to have hit the hand of Luan (No 13)
FIFA President Gianni Infantino (centre) formally congratulated Blues boss Thomas Tuchel (left) and handed him his medal
CLUB WORLD CUP FINAL: CHELSEA 2-1 PALMEIRAS (A.E.T.)
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Christensen (Sarr 90), Thiago Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Kante, Kovacic (Ziyech 90), Hudson-Odoi (Niguez 77); Mount (Pulisic 31), Havertz; Lukaku (Werner 76).
Substitutes: Kepa, Bettinelli; Chalobah, Alonso, Kenedy, Jorginho, Barkley.
Goals: Lukaku 55, Havertz (pen) 117.
Yellow cards: Havertz 118.
Manager: Thomas Tuchel.
Palmeiras (5-4-1): Weverton; Marcos Rocha (Deyverson 118), Luan Garcia, Gustavo Gomez, Joaquin Piquerez, Gustavo Scarpa; Rony (Wesley 77), Danilo, Ze Rafael (Jailson 60), Dudu (Rafael Navarro 103); Raphael Veiga (Atuesta 78).
Substitutes: Marcelo Lomba; Kuscevic, Jorge, Mayke, Breno Lopes, Murilo, Mateus.
Goals: Raphael Veiga (pen) 64.
Yellow cards: Wesley 105, Luan 115, Atuesta 116, Ferreira 120+1.
Red cards: Luan 120+6.
Manager: Abel Ferreira.
By the end there a was a degree of pandemonium. A penalty shoot-out loomed when Hakim Ziyech teed up a late corner in extra time, which fell for Cesar Azpilicueta. His shot on the volley fairly cannoned off the hand of Luan, though it was carelessly away from his body.
Play went on as Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger swarmed around referee Chris Beath. Even given the propensity of footballers’ to deceive, they seemed pretty certain. When the ball finally when out of play, Beath was called to the VAR monitor.
A penalty was awarded and Kai Havertz stepped up and despite a concerted intimidation campaign, kept his cool and shot home. The unfortunate Luan’s evening would come to an end with virtually the final kick of the game when he was sent off for a professional foul on Havertz.
The occasion, though dominated by the Palmeiras fans transforming this district of Abu Dhabi into a little corner of Sao Paulo for the evening, was Chelsea’s. The European Champions did have one important fan in owner Roman Abramovich.
The Mohammed Bin Zayed stadium may not have been full with 32,817 here but the constant din from the Palmeiras fans provided a necessary edge to a game, which can be viewed as an unnecessary diversion by Europeans. ‘Palmeiras Dublin’ read one huge banner. It was a global takeover and their desperation to add this trophy to their list of honours was evident.
Before the game former Palmeiras defender Cafu (left) and ex-Chelsea striker Claudio Pizarro (right) brought the trophy out.
The ball fell to Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta (front left) in an early chance but he had his back to goal and was well closed down
The Campeonato Brasileiro Série A top-tier side made several small, niggly fouls in the first half to disrupt Chelsea’s rhythm
Blues midfielder Mason Mount (right, No 19) limped off in the first half and was replaced by American winger Christian Pulisic
Brazilian goalkeeper Weverton challenged sub-Pulisic for a dangerous cross but won a free-kick after falling awkwardly
Palmeiras harbour a grudge against FIFA, having won a world club tournament in 1951, which they have long lobbied to be recognised as the forerunner to official World Club Cups. Thus far FIFA has not recognised their victory and, as such, they are taunted by rivals Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Internacional, Santos, Flamengo, and Gremio – all previous world champions – as a lesser club, devoid of the ultimate trophy. Their big chance came in 1999 when they were defeated in the final by Manchester United’s treble winners.
After all the elaborate pre-match ceremonies, the smell of gunpowder from the pre-match pyrotechnics lingered in the nostrils but there were sadly few fireworks on the pitch early on. Disjointed opening exchanges consisting of badly taken free-kicks and corners with Palmeiras’ 4-2-3-1 regularly reverting to a back six to take care of Chelsea’s wing-backs.
While Chelsea had little coherence, struggling to free their front players, Palmeiras were so deep they had limited options in attack when they did win the ball.
Dudu’s turn and strike 22 minutes from the edge of the box was the closest we came to a shot on goal and that wasn’t especially close. That said, Chelsea’s defensive laxness almost cost them on 28 minutes, when, on the break, Ze Rafael sprinted clear and then released Dudu in plenty of space. The pass though was slightly behind him and he consequently shot wide. As such, Edouard Mendy, fresh from his AFCON triumph for Senegal, was largely untested in the first half.
Sixty-nine per possession in the first half for Chelsea didn’t amount to much. They had to wait until just before halftime before they threatened at all seriously and even then it was from a hopeful 30-yard striker from Thiago Silva, which goalkeeper Weverton helped on it was wide, just to be safe. When the second half began with a similar ambitious effort from Antonio Rudiger, you feared more of the same. It speaks volumes of the lack of creativity when long-range efforts from central defenders are your most notable threat.
A small but vocal contingent of Chelsea supporters made their way to the Middle East to support their side, with flags aplenty
And at the Allianz Parque stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil – the home of Palmeiras – supporters gathered to cheer their team on
The £100million summer signing Romelu Lukaku (right) opened the scoring just after the hour, heading home emphatically
The Belgian (pictured) met Callum Hudson-Odoi’s perfect left-wing cross powerfully and sank to his knees in celebration
Lukaku was joined by winger Pulisic (left) and Azpilicueta (right) in congratulating wing-back Hudson-Odoi for his creativity
But Palmeiras were level less than 10 minutes later, defender Thiago Silva ruled to have handballed inside the penalty area
Yet suddenly a spark came on 55 minutes. It wasn’t precipitated by any surge of Chelsea activity. It emerged unexpectedly, an injection of energy into a mediocre performance. Mateo Kovacic found Callum Hudson-Odoi wide left and his pace gained him a crucial yard of space. Finally, a player was at the byline and Hudson-Odoi didn’t disappoint with a superb cross, beautifully weighted almost onto the forehead of Lukaku, leaping to nod home his second goal of this tournament.
The sense of euphoria didn’t last long. Unnecessarily, Thiafo Silav leapt with dangly hands to meet a long throw aimed at Gustavo Gomez. The ball struck his hand and though Australian referee Beath missed it initially, a VAR check put that right. Raphael Veiga stepped up, sent Mendy the wrong way to strike the ball into the right-hand corner.
Now the Mohammed Bin Zayed stadium erupted and the Palmeiras bench cleared to celebrate. Again, the crowd noise made it feel like we had been transported across the Atlantic to Brazil rather than to a skyscraper city in the Arabian peninsula.
Chelsea responded to the increased intensity. N’Golo Kante embarked on a driving run, fed Lukaku, who touched the ball back to Christian Pulisic, who drove his shot just wide. It was, though, an encouragingly fluid combination.
There would be few more of those and a largely uneventful extra time was enlivened only by Christian Pulisic’s bundled effort looping on to the bar. In reality, had it gone in it would have been chalked off by the robot referee, as Werner was offside when he delivered the cross.
Australian referee Chris Beath was advised by the fourth official to check the incident, consulted VAR then gave the spot-kick
Palmeiras attacker Raphael Veiga stepped up, composed himself and sent Blues goalkeeper Edouard Mendy the wrong way
Veiga, also a scorer in the Copa Libertadores final, sent the Brazilian fans into raptures and was mobbed by team-mates
Palmeiras boss Abel Ferreira (above) was an animated figure on the touchline, constantly encouraging his players throughout
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel (pictured), for his part, was a more subdued figure but still barked orders from the touchline
With the match level at 1-1 after 90 minutes, the ex-Paris Saint-Germain boss gave his players instructions before extra time
Chelsea squad train ahead of Club World Cup final against Palmeiras.
Adongo Ogony is a Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada