The Seattle Sounders are already looking ahead to taking on either Liverpool or Real Madrid after achieving "immortality" by winning the CONCACAF Champions League.

The Sounders beat Pumas UNAM 3-0 at Lumen Field on Wednesday to complete a 5-2 aggregate triumph and finally deliver a first Champions League title for MLS.

Seattle are the league's third CONCACAF champions but first in the Champions League era after a series of heartbreaks for rival clubs.

Two goals from Raul Ruidiaz and a late clincher from captain Nicolas Lodeiro sparked scenes of mass celebration in front of a raucous, record crowd of over 68,741.

Garth Lagerwey, the Sounders' general manager, gave Extratime his assessment: "Immortality. You get into sports for stuff people can never take away.

"This will be written down, it will be there forever. Hopefully it's the first of many."

Real Salt Lake, CF Montreal, Toronto FC and Los Angeles FC had each previously fallen at this final hurdle.

Now, for MLS, Lagerwey says, Seattle are "the symbol, we're the tip of the spear, we pushed through, we finally did it, we vanquished the demons".

"But everybody's welcome," he added. "We want a crowded mountaintop up here. We don't want to be up here by ourselves."

Playing just hours after Madrid had completed an epic semi-final fightback against Manchester City in UEFA's Champions League, Lagerwey could not help consider a Club World Cup clash with a European giant.

"We're going to play against Real Madrid or Liverpool in a real game for a trophy," he said, with Seattle's place in the tournament secure. "I feel like a little kid. This is the stuff you dream of."

The Sounders had already won two MLS Cups, a Supporters' Shield and four U.S. Open Cups, but this victory takes the club to another level entirely.

"I think we're going to become a global club now," the GM added.

"I've got to think my phone's got to start ringing once some people see what our fanbase, our building... it's as good a soccer environment as anywhere in the world. It just is. This is a pretty special place."

Roman Abramovich has decided to sell Chelsea.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Russian-Israeli businessman announced his decision to sell the London club, which he purchased in 2003.

Abramovich has said his decision is "in the best interest of the club", as it comes against the backdrop of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has put him under intense scrutiny.

The 55-year-old oligarch has been photographed with Russian president Vladimir Putin in the past, and while it was claimed last week that Abramovich has no involvement in politics, a spokesperson for the Blues' owner suggested to the Press Association on Monday that he was "trying to help" achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Russian businesses and high-profile individuals have been hit with crippling financial sanctions by nations all over the world since the attack began last Thursday, and there have been calls in the United Kingdom for Abramovich to be targeted next.

Should Abramovich secure a sale, he leaves Chelsea as a footballing superpower...

The trophies

Chelsea have won 19 major trophies since Abramovich bought the club, with the Blues succeeding in every single available competition at least once.

Their haul includes five Premier League titles (2004-05, 2005-06, 2009-10, 2014-15, 2016-17) and two Champions League triumphs (2011-12, 2020-21).

The Blues have won the FA Cup on five occasions since 2003, last doing so in 2018, while they have added a further three EFL Cup titles to their honours list, too.

Chelsea's success in Europe has not just been restricted to the Champions League. They won the Europa League in 2012-13 and 2018-19, and the Super Cup last year.

February brought Club World Cup glory for the first time, completing the set under Abramovich.

Since the owner arrived in 2003, Chelsea have accumulated 1,449 points in the Premier League, more than any other side.

Of the 709 top-flight games during Abramovich's ownership so far, they have won 432, drawn 153 and lost 124, scoring 1,309 goals and conceding 621 for a hugely impressive goal difference of 688.

The managers

Chelsea have flitted through managers during Abramovich's tenure. Indeed, current incumbent Thomas Tuchel is the 15th different coach (including caretakers and interims) to work at Stamford Bridge since 2003.

After dismissing Claudio Ranieri in 2004, Abramovich landed a superstar manager in Jose Mourinho, who would go on to lead Chelsea to their first top-flight crown since 1955 and defend the title the following season.

Mourinho's first stint really was special. He won 124 games, losing just 21 times, and turned Chelsea from pretenders into a true superpower. Of any permanent manager during Abramovich's ownership, the Portuguese's first spell produced the best win ratio (67 per cent).

Yet past success means little as soon as things turn sour for Abramovich, and Mourinho was replaced in 2007-08. His successor, Avram Grant, led Chelsea to their first Champions League final, but John Terry's penalty shoot-out slip proved costly.

Luiz Felipe Scolari proved a bust but Guus Hiddink, in his first, more successful interim spell, subsequently delivered FA Cup joy in 2009, and a 72.7 per cent win rate from his 22 matches in charge (16 victories). 

Carlo Ancelotti was next through the door. He claimed a Premier League and FA Cup double in 2009-10, while Roberto Di Matteo secured the club's first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out defeat of Bayern Munich.

Mourinho's return yielded a fourth Premier League success, but the Special One's second spell deteriorated quickly and he was sacked in December 2015 with Chelsea sitting 16th. Hiddink came in for a second interim spell but won just 10 out of 27 matches (a 37 per cent win ratio).

Chelsea won a trophy in each season under Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri. Club great Frank Lampard was given the job in 2019 but lasted just 18 months, finishing with the lowest win ratio of any permanent Chelsea boss under Abramovich (52.4 per cent). Tuchel took the same side to Champions League glory.

The players

Superstar managers must have superstar players to manage, and Chelsea have certainly had their fair share of those during Abramovich's time at Stamford Bridge.

Lampard made 354 league appearances from 2003 to his departure in 2014, scoring 136 goals, but John Terry tops the top-flight appearances list during Abramovich's reign, with 411.

Petr Cech was arguably the best goalkeeper in world football in his prime, and he ranks third on that list (333), while current captain Cesar Azpilicueta will go down as a club great, even if he will never be considered among world football's true elite.

Eden Hazard scored 85 league goals in 245 games across his seven years with the Blues. Michael Essien was a superb player for Chelsea after joining in 2005, while Claude Makelele, signed in 2003, was crucial to Mourinho's initial success.

Only Lampard scored more goals than Didier Drogba (104), though Diego Costa was brilliant in Mourinho's second spell. Jorginho, Antonio Rudiger, Edouard Mendy and N'Golo Kante have proved superb signings in recent years.

There have been flops, perhaps none more so than Fernando Torres, while the world-record fee for a goalkeeper splashed out on Kepa Arrizabalaga does not seem so wise and Timo Werner has struggled since his move from Germany in 2020. Romelu Lukaku could well be added to that list if he does not discover his best form.

Kai Havertz has his sights set on World Cup glory with Germany after securing the Club World Cup for Chelsea on Sunday. 

A penalty in extra-time from Havertz, who scored the winning goal in last season's Champions League final, saw Chelsea get their hands on the Club World Cup for the first time in their history thanks to a 2-1 win over Palmeiras in Abu Dhabi. 

The 22-year-old insisted he is focused on fighting for silverware on another four fronts with the Blues this season.

However, he has an eye on success with Germany at Qatar 2022 in December as well.

"Without a doubt, I want to be a World Cup winner this year," Havertz told Bild. 

"In the upcoming games with the national team, it's important to show yourself. 

"Nevertheless, I'm focused on the here and now with Chelsea. We can still the win the Premier League, Champions League, the EFL Cup final against Liverpool, and the FA Cup. We have big goals." 

Real Madrid and Barcelona had been credited with an interest in Havertz before he joined Chelsea in September 2020 for a reported £71million. 

Havertz is a fan of Spanish football but has no doubt picking the Premier League has enabled him to develop significantly despite stiff competition for game time at Stamford Bridge. 

"For me personally, the step to the Premier League was the right one. A lot of pundits saw me in LaLiga back then," said Havertz. 

"I like Spanish football a lot, but I'm also convinced that the Premier League has shaped me a lot in recent months and helped me progress. 

"When you play for a club like Chelsea, the competition is fierce. I was aware of that from the start. 

"Nothing is given to anyone. However, I'm convinced that if I play, I will repay the trust." 

N'Golo Kante has insisted Chelsea "will go for every trophy" and is still hungry for success after winning the Club World Cup.

The Blues defeated Palmeiras 2-1 to win the competition for the first time in their history, having qualified after winning their second Champions League title last season.

Chelsea were fancied to push Manchester City and Liverpool all the way in the Premier League title race, though a top-flight charge now looks unlikely.

However, they have an EFL Cup final coming up against Liverpool at the end of February, while Thomas Tuchel's team remain in the FA Cup and the Champions League. They will face Luton Town and Lille respectively in the next rounds of those competitions.

With a first trophy of the season under Chelsea's belt, Kante – who also counts two Premier League titles and the World Cup among his honours – is eager for more.

"We know there are many more important games coming with the final of the Carabao Cup, we're still in the Champions League, we have to do well in the Premier League and the FA Cup is coming," Kante told reporters.

"So many great things are ahead of us. We hope we will enjoy many more nights like these. I don't know what we can achieve, but what we want is to get the best out of our team so we compete for everything. We will go for every trophy."

Kante also believes Chelsea proved how much the Club World Cup success meant to them by playing a strong team, despite the tournament being played mid-season.

"We took it very seriously," Kante continued. "For many of the players, we've never played this tournament, the club had never won it and to have the privilege to play it and win it is very special. It's a very nice feeling.

"It's the first time for the club and we're happy to be part of that, to have done it. Also, for us, it is the following of the success of the Champions League.

"This is special. It's a nice moment, we're all together and it's another trophy."

Despite the success this Chelsea squad has achieved over the past year, Callum Hudson-Odoi explained that, for young players like himself, there is still much to accomplish before he or his team-mates can be considered as club greats.

"I don't feel like a legend at all," Hudson-Odoi said. "At the end of the day I'm young, I've got a long way to go.

"I'm delighted to win trophies. When you win trophies it is a big feeling. You keep adding and adding to the cabinet and it's nice but you can't say you're a legend at 21.

"It is too, too early to say that. There is a lot more to come, hopefully. We keep pushing and keep going and at the end of the day we keep creating more history for the club and enjoy it while we can."

Thomas Tuchel felt Chelsea were deserving Club World Cup winners and has challenged his "relentless" side to keep adding to their growing collection of titles in the remainder of the season.

Kai Havertz converted an extra-time penalty to secure a 2-1 win against Copa Libertadores holders Palmeiras, as Chelsea added success in FIFA's showpiece club tournament to the Champions League and Super Cup titles they lifted last year.

Tuchel, who missed his team's semi-final win over Al Hilal after testing positive for COVID-19 but was able to travel to the United Arab Emirates for the final, was full of praise for his charges after the contest.

While admitting Chelsea needed a little luck to avoid a shoot-out, the beaming former Paris Saint-German boss considered this a deserved victory.

"You need luck to score late on, but we were relentless, and we did not stop trying", Tuchel told Channel 4, having seen Romelu Lukaku's opener cancelled out by Raphael Veiga's spot-kick.

"We did not give in. We had the lead, then lost it, but never stopped. It was deserved, but it's also lucky when you score so late.

"The penalty [from Havertz] did not look nervous but for sure he was. 

"You cannot not be nervous in this situation. We trusted the statistics, and I'm happy for him."

Kai Havertz converted a penalty deep into extra time to clinch Club World Cup glory for Chelsea with a 2-1 win over Palmeiras.

The game appeared destined for a penalty shoot-out after a drab extra period, but the Blues got the opportunity to go in front again and they took it.

Romelu Lukaku initially put Chelsea ahead with an excellent header just before the hour, but Palmeiras levelled nine minutes later through a Raphael Veiga spot-kick.

Havertz then kept his cool from the spot in the 117th minute as Chelsea were crowned world champions for the first time.

Al Ahly finished third at the Club World Cup after a chaotic play-off saw them win 4-0 against an Al Hilal side who had two players red-carded in the opening 28 minutes.

Egyptian giants Al Ahly were on easy street for much of the game, with Saudi rivals Al Hilal the architects of their own downfall.

Al Ahly took an eighth-minute lead when Yasser Ibrahim headed in from close range, and the first red followed six minutes later when Matheus Pereira went in dangerously on Amr El Soleya near the halfway line.

Another close-range header from Ibrahim put Al Ahly two goals to the good, after Mohamed Hany's fizzing 25-yard drive was parried by Mohammed Al Owais.

A laughably petulant off-the-ball kick by Mohamed Kanno on goalscorer Ibrahim resulted in a second red being brandished by referee Clement Turpin shortly before the half-hour mark, and it was 3-0 inside 40 minutes when Ahmed Radwan danced through the depleted and deflated opposition ranks to flick home from five yards.

El Soleya scored the goal of the game to make it 4-0 in the 64th minute, drilling a 28-yard strike into the bottom-left corner.

Chelsea are eager to fly out Thomas Tuchel to the Club World Cup final, as Jorginho said the head coach could make all the difference.

Tuchel tested positive for COVID-19 in the lead-up to the trip to the United Arab Emirates, with Chelsea announcing that blow to their preparations last Saturday.

The Champions League winners beat Al-Hilal 1-0 in the semi-finals without Tuchel on the touchline, thanks to a Romelu Lukaku goal, and now they are preparing to face Palmeiras in the final.

Brazilian giants Palmeiras, holders of the Copa Libertadores, were 2-0 winners against Al Ahly and will present tough opposition for Chelsea.

Saturday's trophy match is one that Tuchel would want to attend, and Chelsea reportedly have a private jet on standby, but he needs negative test results before he can be cleared to travel to Abu Dhabi.

Asked about preparing for the game without Tuchel, Jorginho said: "Of course it's different. His energy helps a lot, but he's not here now and the staff is trying to do their best. We can feel that.

"We feel sorry Thomas is not here with us, but he's involved all the time, in touch with the staff and team. We can feel the staff, all of them, are doing their best."

It would help, however, if Tuchel can be present in person, rather than making plans from afar.

"Of course it gives you more," Jorginho said. "There's more energy in the changing room. It'll be really important for us if he could be here. That's what we hope but at the moment we just don't know. We can hope."

Chelsea assistant boss Zsolt Low, set to lead the team if Tuchel cannot make the trip, added: "We still hope he can come and enjoy the group and the final as soon as possible.

"He is following the rules and getting tested. There is a lot of time. Any test he does could be negative. We hope this happens in the next hours. Thomas absolutely thinks he can be there, and the team and the whole staff want him to come for the final.

"We hope he can come, but if he cannot, we are still well prepared. We have had a lot of meetings. We had a video conference after the first game analysing it, and seeing what we can do better and what problems we had. We are absolutely clear what happened in the first game and what we have to do better in the second game."

Chelsea have yet to decide whether goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, back from helping Senegal win the Africa Cup of Nations, should come back into the team in place of Kepa Arrizabalaga.

"We have to take this decision tonight or latest tomorrow," said Low. "We talk to Thomas about it, we talk with the goalkeeper coaches, and we will make the final decision tomorrow, some hours before the game.

"Whoever sits on the bench has nothing to be worried or sad about. Both goalkeepers have had big performances in the last weeks, and that's why it's just a decision for this game."

Jorginho will be targeting another major trophy, after his Champions League win with Chelsea and Euro 2020 triumph with Italy last year.

"It's an important trophy. It's February. It's so much. We really want it. We're not thinking about the Premier League right now, we're thinking about tomorrow," Jorginho said. "That's the important thing right now."

This will be the fourth Club World Cup final between an English and a Brazilian side, making it the most commonly contested final by teams from two specific nations.

Brazilian sides have won three of their four games against English opposition at the tournament, the exception being a 1-0 defeat for Flamengo against Liverpool in the 2019 final.

Chelsea lost to Corinthians in the 2012 final, and Palmeiras are bidding to become the fifth Brazilian winners of the competition.

Palmeiras certainly head into the final in strong form, having achieved a 10-game unbeaten run across all competitions (W7 D3), with their last defeat coming back in November against Fortaleza in the league.

Chelsea assistant coach Zsolt Low heaped praise on Kepa Arrizabalaga following his impressive display in the Club World Cup semi-final win over Al-Hilal.

The 2020-21 Champions League winners progressed to the final of the competition, where they will face Palmeiras after scraping past the Asian champions 1-0.

Romelu Lukaku's 32nd-minute strike settled the contest at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, but it was a generally lacklustre display by Chelsea.

After controlling large periods of the first half, recording 61.9 per cent of possession, the Blues only registered 45.4 per cent after the break and had to rely on important saves from Kepa to keep Al-Hilal at bay.

The Spain international, who was given the nod ahead of Edouard Mendy following the latter's return from his Africa Cup of Nations triumph with Senegal, denied Plymouth Argyle's Ryan Hardie from the penalty spot in the narrow FA Cup victory on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the pick of his saves against Al-Hilal four days on saw him deny Mohamed Kanno in brilliant fashion.

And Low, who oversaw Chelsea in the absence of Thomas Tuchel following a positive COVID-19 test, highlighted the performance of his goalkeeper.

"[Kepa's] very important," he said. "In the cup, he did a big performance to save the penalty. 

"Today when we needed him, he was there and made one big save. 

"He's in very good shape; he plays and trains well. We're lucky to have him. 

"In the next days, we have to decide who plays the final. 

"We're waiting for Thomas' opinion and the goalkeeping coaches before we take the decision for the final."

Low also applauded Lukaku, who netted his first goal since the 5-1 win over Chesterfield in the FA on January 8.

Other than his strike, though, the Belgium international registered just one shot on goal – straight at the goalkeeper – and was caught offside on three occasions.

Nevertheless, Low insisted he was delighted with the striker's efforts.

"Everyone's very happy he scored," he added. 

"He fought very hard and tried hard in the last game; that's why we gave him the chance. 

"We hoped for a bit of luck to score today. He's very happy, we're very happy and hope he continues and scores in the final."

Chelsea made hard work of reaching the Club World Cup final with a 1-0 win against Al Hilal in the last four on Wednesday.

Thomas Tuchel's side – playing without their coach following his positive coronavirus test – were in control from the outset and should never have been in danger of becoming the first European champions to fall short of the final since Manchester United in 2000.

But slack play in the final third, when both shooting and playing the final pass, meant Romelu Lukaku's first-half strike was their only goal and Kepa Arrizabalaga had to step up at the other end. 

Asian champions Al Hilal, who had scored six against Al Jazira in the previous round, remained in the game until the final whistle but could not find the leveller to prevent Chelsea advancing to face Palmeiras in Saturday's decider.

Setting the tone for much of the contest, Lukaku had initially been frustrated in his pursuit of a first goal in more than a month, repeatedly taking up promising positions without finding the finishing touch.

But Chelsea's record signing could not miss on 32 minutes when Kai Havertz's cross bounced kindly off unwitting defender Yasser Al-Shahrani into the six-yard box, allowing the forward to slam into the net right-footed.

Havertz came close to scoring himself at the start of the second half as he followed a brilliant run down the left by beating Abdullah Al-Mayoof from a tight angle, only for the ball to bounce back out off the near post.

With Al Hilal still just one behind, Kepa was twice required to come to Chelsea's rescue, advancing from his line to block from Moussa Marega and then pulling off a sublime stop from Mohamed Kanno.

An extended spell of pressure followed, but Chelsea held on to give themselves a second shot at a first Club World Cup title after 2012's final failure.


What does it mean? Improvement needed to avoid final repeat

Wasteful Chelsea underperformed their expected goals total of 1.60, but that figure also does not take into account the numerous occasions when the final ball was not quite right or Lukaku mistimed his run.

Such profligacy allowed Al Hilal to grow into the game and rack up 12 shots worth a combined 0.95 xG themselves – albeit while similarly failing to convert.

Palmeiras, Chelsea's final opponents, may not be quite so forgiving, and Blues supporters have painful memories of coming up short against Brazilian opponents after Corinthians were crowned world champions 10 years ago.

Keeper Kepa keeps delivering

Edouard Mendy enjoyed a warm welcome as he linked up with the Chelsea squad having won the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal, but the goalkeeper has scarcely been missed – particularly in the past two matches.

Kepa counted an 118th-minute penalty among four saves in a nervy FA Cup win over Plymouth Argyle on Saturday and had to be at his best again against Al Hilal. There were three stops this time, with his save from Kanno the game's standout moment.

Still Luk-ing for best form

Lukaku would have been relieved to get on the scoresheet having not netted since a 5-1 win against Chesterfield on January 8.

Yet there were few signs of a scoring return triggering an improvement in performance levels here. Besides his goal, Lukaku had only one shot – straight at the goalkeeper – while he was caught offside on three occasions.

What's next?

Chelsea play Palmeiras on Saturday for the title after Al Hilal are in action in a third-place play-off against Al Ahly.

CONCACAF Champions League winners Monterrey sealed a fifth-place finish at the FIFA Club World Cup after cruising to a deserved 3-1 win over Emirati outfit Al Jazira. 

Backed by a vocal group of travelling fans, the Mexican outfit took just three minutes to take the lead, when a weak shot deflected against Al Jazira defender Zayed Sultan and spun across the goalline by a matter of inches. 

The Liga MX side looked determined to atone for their wasteful loss to Al Ahly last week, and doubled their advantage soon afterwards, when impressive striker Rogelio Funes Mori rounded the goalkeeper and tapped into an open net after 11 minutes.

Monterrey were utterly dominant throughout the opening period and racked up a third goal with 25 minutes gone, when captain Cesar Montes headed home from Arturo Gonzalez's free-kick.

With the contest effectively wrapped up by the break, the Mexican side made a number of changes early on in the second half, before drawing three strong saves from Al Jazira shot-stopper and captain Ali Khaseif without adding a fourth goal.

Although Monterrey certainly warranted their victory, racking up 18 attempts at goal to their opponents' six, the Emirati champions did claim a late consolation goal, when Brazilian winger Bruno De Oliveira raced onto a low cross to tap home in stoppage time.

Raphael Veiga and Dudu recorded a goal and an assist each as Palmeiras eased past Al Ahly 2-0 in the FIFA Club World Cup semi-finals at Al Nahyan Stadium.

After losing to Tigres UANL in last year's semi-final before being beaten on penalties by Al Ahly in the third-place game, it will be a relief to Palmeiras to have reached the final.

Veiga opened the scoring six minutes before half-time, and turned provider for Dudu to double the Copa Libertadores' champions lead early in the second half. Chelsea or Al-Hilal await Palmeiras.

Al Ahly were missing some key players, though started Egypt international Amr Al Soleya despite the midfielder playing an hour of the Africa Cup of Nations final on Sunday.

He had two attempts during the first half but both came after Dudu had set Veiga away in the 39th minute, with the latter finishing well across Aly Lotfi.

Veiga returned the favour when he played in Dudu four minutes after the restart – the winger racing down the right before firing high into the net.

Another disappointed AFCON finalist, Hamdi Fathi, came on as part of a triple substitution following the second goal, and Al Ahly finally stepped up their intensity, having three times as many shots in the first 15 minutes of the second half (six) than they had in the entire first period.

Mohamed Sherif had the ball in the net in the 72nd minute when he followed up a shot that was spilled by Weverton, but it was disallowed for offside.

Salt was rubbed into Al Ahly wounds further with 10 minutes to go when VAR deemed Ayman Ashraf's reckless challenge on Rony worthy of a red card.

What does it mean? Palmeiras improve on last time out

It is a rare occurrence for the CONMEBOL representative to fail to make the Club World Cup final, so losing to Mexican side Tigres last year was a big blow for Palmeiras, as was only finishing fourth after defeat to Al Ahly.

Abel Ferreira's men always looked relatively comfortable here though, despite Al Ahly hitting the crossbar late on. Palmeiras are now the eighth different Brazilian side to reach the final of the Club World Cup, with Flamengo in 2019 the last team from the country to progress to the competition’s showcase.

Palmeiras on a roll

Palmeiras may have been expected to dominate their opponents with flair and skill, and in the first half they mostly did just that, but the second half was a solid example of keeping the opposition at arm's length to close out the win, ideal for knockout tournament football.

They are now unbeaten in their last 10 games across all competitions (W7 D3), since a 1-0 league defeat to Fortaleza back in November.

Another semi-final defeat for Al Ahly

Al Ahly are making their seventh appearance at the Club World Cup, but are yet to reach the final of the competition having now lost each of their previous four semi-final appearances (2006, 2012, 2021 and 2022).

What’s next?

Palmeiras will play the winner of Chelsea and Al-Hilal in Saturday's final, while Al Ahly will face the loser of that game in the third-place playoff earlier that same day.

Chelsea coach Zsolt Low is confident his side can cope without Thomas Tuchel on the sidelines for Wednesday's Club World Cup semi-final against Al Hilal.

Tuchel missed Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round win against Plymouth Argyle after testing positive for coronavirus and was also unable to fly out to Abu Dhabi.

The German will definitely miss the clash with Asian champions Al Hilal, but he could return for a potential final against either Palmeiras or Al Ahly on Saturday.

Low and Arno Michels will continue to fill in and the former insists Chelsea's preparations have not been hampered too much as Tuchel is providing regular input from London.

"We are constantly in contact with Thomas. We're using video calling all the time," Low said at a pre-match news conference on Tuesday.

"We change our ideas a lot of times in the day. We have good conversation to make it like he is here with us together.

"Petr Cech supports us well when Thomas is not here. We have a good medical staff, team management. We have a lot of support. And a lot of video calls with Thomas. 

"He'll support us as best he can and give us every day preparation in meetings. In the next days there's the possibility to talk to the team."

 

Despite the four-hour time difference between London and the United Arab Emirates, Low says Tuchel is available at any time of the day.

"It's not necessary for him to change time zone. We have meetings with an alarm call," he said. "If we need him at 6am, we need him at 6am. 

"We are training in the afternoon so Thomas is already awake then anyway. In the hotel it's a bit easier for him to chat to the team because of the connection. 

"Maybe here in the dressing room can be more difficult. We all the time have phone contact also during the game so he can analyse and try to translate to the team.

"Phone calls and messages aren't Thomas' strongest part but he needs to be prepared and ready and be with us on the phone. He's been absolutely perfect in the last few days."

Tuchel is continuing to isolate, but if he returns a negative test by Thursday he will be in place for this weekend's final – assuming Chelsea first overcome Al Hilal.

"He'll follow the government rules, get tested every day and we hope the next will be negative so he can travel as fast as possible and enjoy the group and the team," Low said. 

"We hope but we have texts, phone calls, video calls and give him the feeling he's with us. We need his absolute support. In 24 hours he could be here."

Al Hilal beat Al Jazira 6-1 to set up a showdown with Chelsea, who are looking to add the Club World Cup to their collection following last year's Champions League triumph.

The Blues were beaten 1-0 by Corinthians in the final in their only participation in the tournament a decade ago, but they are favourites to go all the win this time around.

"We have to take that role after winning the Champions League," Low said. "We know we're a good team and play a good game but Al Hilal are very good.

"Leonardo Jardim is a very good coach and they have a very good team. We take the role as favourites but for sure it will be a difficult game tomorrow."

The Champions League winners have made the final of the Club World Cup at 16 of the previous 17 editions, with Manchester United in 2000 the only exception.

Chelsea have lost just one of their past 15 games in all competitions, meanwhile, with their only loss in that period coming against Premier League champions Manchester City.

The English heavyweights will be without Reece James against Al Hilal, despite the defender being included in their squad, while Mason Mount will undergo a late fitness test.

Edouard Mendy is also set to link up with the squad ahead of the match, despite featuring for Senegal in Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations final win against Egypt.

Al Hilal thumped hosts Al Jazira 6-1 on Sunday to book their place in the Club World Cup semi-finals against Chelsea.

2020-21 UAE Pro League champions Al Jazira opened the scoring through Abdoulay Diaby after 14 minutes, but goals from former Premier League forwards Odion Ighalo and Matheus Pereira put Al Hilal into the lead before the break.

That narrow lead was extended into an emphatic scoreline in the second half, as Mohamed Kanno, Salem Al-Dawsari, Moussa Marega and Andre Carrillo all found the back of the net.

Asian champions Al Hilal will face European counterparts Chelsea in the last four on February 9, while Al Jazira play Monterrey earlier that same day in the fifth-place play-off.

Reece James was a surprise inclusion in Chelsea's squad for the Club World Cup, travelling to Abu Dhabi on Sunday despite Thomas Tuchel saying he would miss the tournament.

A 23-man Chelsea party headed to the finals after Saturday's nervy 2-1 FA Cup win over Plymouth Argyle.

James was not expected to be among them as he recovers from a hamstring injury, with coach Tuchel saying before the Plymouth game the wing-back required "a couple of weeks" before even returning to training.

The Chelsea boss said James would not travel.

With Edouard Mendy to join his club-mates after playing for Senegal in Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations final, the Blues are missing only two first-team players.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who is dealing with a minor injury, has not made the journey, while Ben Chilwell's season has been curtailed by a serious knee issue.

For now, however, Chelsea are without Tuchel, who tested positive for coronavirus and intends to link up with his team at a later date.

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