Chelsea need to be really wary of Al Hilal's danger man, he scored twice against them last season - TCC View

The Club World Cup remains a mystical entity to some supporters.

Played in a far-off land, with teams competing that rarely register on the footballing scale, in the middle of the campaign.

Chuck in an illustrious name like Chelsea and the competition’s format is slightly confusing.

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Yet, the tournament deserves to be respected.

After all, it has been running since 2000, although it did pause for half-decade due to the collapse of FIFA’s marketing partner, International Sport and Leisure.

It provides sides from smaller leagues with an opportunity to be recognised by a global audience, not to mention pitting themselves against Europe’s elite.

Quality of the Club World Cup

Those travelling from across the continent certainly take the Club World Cup seriously.

Manchester United will remind everyone of their quadruple trophy haul in 2008/09, where they won this particular competition, the Premier League, the League Cup and the Community Shield.

Real Madrid’s consecutive victories between 2016 and 2018 shouldn’t be understated.

And whilst the winners are usually of Champions League standard, the rest of the competitors simply cannot be taken lightly at all.

Take Chelsea’s semi-final opponents, Al Hilal, for example.

Fans might scoff at the fact they are only fourth in the Saudi Pro League, but they are no laughing matter.

Al Hilal’s main men

Al Hilal are managed by Leonardo Jardim, the man who guided Monaco to their first Ligue 1 title for 17 years in 2016/17.

Up front, they can call upon the attacking duo of Odion Ighalo, familiar to followers of the English top-flight from his time with Watford and Manchester United, and former Porto striker Moussa Marega.

Top scorer Bafetimbi Gomis only recently left to join Galatasaray, whilst Andre Carrillo played well over 150 times for Sporting Lisbon before moving to Saudi Arabia.

However, perhaps the most well-known face to Chelsea is Matheus Pereira.

Photo by Mohammad Karamali/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

The 25-year-old spent two seasons with West Bromwich Albion ahead of his transfer to Jardim’s squad.

He was named the Supporters’ Player of the Year in the term the Baggies were promoted to the first division.

Although West Brom came straight back down, they enjoyed one memorable afternoon at Stamford Bridge that will live long in the history books.

Pereira picks apart the Blues

At the start of April, Sam Allardyce’s men shocked the entire sporting community by beating Chelsea 5-2 at home.

This induced Thomas Tuchel’s first defeat in charge of the Blues after 15 games at the helm; to this day, it is still the German’s heaviest loss as the club’s coach.

The catalyst to this shock result was undoubtedly Pereira.

Photo by MIKE HEWITT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

He opened the scoring with a delightful lob over Edouard Mendy, before doubling West Brom’s advantage with an equally eloquent finish.

Then the attacking midfielder set up two more goals to stun the already silent stadium of the European champions.

Be careful, Chelsea, or Pereira will pinch your pocket again!

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.