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Chelsea: European champions look to continue dominance

Chelsea sealed a narrow 1-0 win over Al Hilal on Wednesday to set up a Club World Cup final against Palmeiras on Saturday.

After winning the Champions League in 2021/22, Chelsea secured a spot in the Club World Cup as one of seven teams.

They entered the competition at the semi-final stage on Wednesday and Romelu Lukaku's first-half strike was enough to seal the win.

Tough test in Abu Dhabi

The Blues dominated the first 45 minutes but appeared to struggle in extremely humid conditions as the game progressed.

AFC Champions League winners Al Hilal, who had seen off Al Jazira 6-1 in the second round, caused the Premier League club serious problems in the second half but they couldn't find an equaliser.

The final is set to take place on Saturday at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, when Chelsea will line up against Palmeiras, with the game available on the Sports Live Streaming platform.

Chelsea can be backed at 4/6 to seal victory against 4/1 Palmeiras with the draw priced at 14/5.

Copa Libertadores champions Palmeiras also entered the tournament at the semi-final stage and they defeated Egyptian outfit Al Ahly 2-0 on Tuesday.

It's the second time that Chelsea have made it through to the Club World Cup final, having lost to Brazilian side Corinthians in 2012, while Palmeiras are debutants in the competition.

Real Madrid are the most successful side in the history of the Club World Cup, winning four titles, but there's certain to be a new champion on Saturday.

Since its inception in 2000, there have been 10 different winners, with 10 coming from Europe and three from Brazil.

Liverpool and Manchester United, who have both lifted the title once, are the only Premier League clubs to go all the way.

Corinthians are the most successful Brazilian side, winning the Club World Cup twice, while Internacional and Sao Paulo boast one title each.

Early years dominated by Brazil

The inaugural Club World Cup took place in 2000 when eight teams battled it out for glory in Brazil.

Corinthians and Vasco de Gama made home advantage count as they finished top of their respective groups to set up an all-Brazilian final.

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It proved to be an extremely tight affair and the national rivals played out a goalless draw through 90 and then after an additional 30 minute period, forcing a penalty shootout.

A packed house at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro eventually saw Corinthians seal a 5-4 victory with Gilberto and Edmundo missing their spot-kicks for Vasco de Gama.

The competition didn't return until 2005 and once again it was a success for Brazil as Sao Paulo defeated Liverpool 1-0 in the final.

Internacional made it a third successive victory for Brazilian clubs in 2006 when defeating Barcelona 1-0.

European era begins

The first European winners of the Club World Cup were AC Milan in 2007 when they sealed a 4-2 victory over Boca Juniors of Argentina.

The tournament was hosted in Yokohoma, Japan, for the third successive year and 68,263 were in attendance to watch the Italian outfit prevail.

Milan beat Japanese outfit Urawa Red Diamonds 1-0 in the semi-finals before squaring off against Boca in a hugely exciting final.

Filippo Inzaghi opened the scoring for I Rossoneri but they were pegged back a minute later when Rodrigo Palacio struck.

Carlo Ancelotti's side kicked on in the second period to open up a 4-1 lead with Inzaghi grabbing his second, while Alessandro Nesta and Kaka were also on the scoresheet.

The deficit was reduced in the closing stages when Massimo Ambrosini put through his own net but Milan held out to seal their place in history courtesy of a 4-2 victory.

Manchester United became the first Premier League side to win the Club World Cup a year later, beating LDU Quito of Ecuador 1-0.

Europe's dominance continued for the next three editions as Barcelona were crowned champions in 2009 and 2011, while Inter Milan defeated TP Mazembe of DR Congo 3-0 in the 2010 final.

Corinthians halted broke the European stranglehold in 2012 courtesy of a 1-0 win over Chelsea.

Real become top dogs

Real Madrid's first success at the Club World Cup came in 2014 when they beat San Lorenzo 2-0 in Marrakech.

La Liga rivals Barcelona eased to a 3-0 victory over River Plate the following year before Real went on to become the most successful team to compete in the competition.

Real, under the tutelage of Zinedine Zidane, lifted the trophy in 2016, 2017 and 2018 to assert their dominance on the world stage.

The 2016 final ranks as one of the best to have ever taken place as they required extra time to beat Kashima Antlers of Japan.

Karim Benzema got Los Blancos off to the perfect start with just nine minutes on the clock and Real led 1-0 at the break in Yokohama.

However, a quickfire double from Gaku Shibasaki had Kashima Antlers leading early in the second half and Real staring down the barrel of a disappointing defeat.

Cristiano Ronaldo got the European champions back on level terms from the penalty spot but they couldn't find a winner and the clash went to extra time.

Real's quality eventually shone through and Ronaldo netted a further two goals to seal his hat-trick and a 4-2 win.

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