The World Club Championship has been a much-maligned tournament over the years but a quick look at past winners suggests the competition holds greater prestige than many imagine. The likes of Barcelona, Manchester United, Inter and AC Milan have all landed the trophy in the past few years and four teams remain in contention for glory in Japan this year.
The tournament is at the business end of proceedings now as the 'big guns' arrive and it is Chelsea who are currently 4/6 odds on favourites to lift the trophy on Sunday with Bet 365. The Blues are joined by Brazilian side Corinthians (7/4), Mexican outfit Monterrey (10/1) and Egypt's Al Ahly (20/1).
Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez has plenty of experience in this tournament as he lost the 2005 final with Liverpool before winning the competition with Inter Milan in 2010. Benitez will be well versed with the format of the World Club Cup as a result and his side have the luxury of entering at the semi-final stage this week, with the Blues due to take on Monterrey in their first match on Thursday.
Benitez could do with some success this week as he bids to warm himself to the Chelsea fans after he replaced Roberto Di Matteo in such acrimonious circumstances. He finally got a first win on the board at the weekend as they beat Sunderland 3-1 in the Premier League and Fernando Torres rediscovered his old touch with a brace.
Torres is 9/2 favourite to score first against Monterrey in Yokohama on Thursday and Chelsea are 8/15 odds on favourites to win the match and book their place in Sunday's final, while Monterrey are 5/1 to cause an upset. The Mexican side secured their place in the semi-finals with a 3-1 win over Ulsan Hyundai in the quarter-finals as Cesar Delgado, who is 20/1 to score first, scored two goals for the 2011/12 CONCACAF Champions League winners.
In the other semi-final on Wednesday, Corinthians take on Al Ahly in Toyata and the Brazilian side start as 4/11 odds on favourites to win the match, while the Egyptians can be backed at 7/1 with B365. Corinthians, the 2000 World Club Championship winners, look a tasty proposition in this competition and it is fair to say that they treat this tournament with far more respect than some of their European counterparts.
Before departing for Japan they were seen off to the airport by 20,000 fans and they have spent the last week acclimatising and preparing. The 2012 Copa Libertadores winners have an advantage over Chelsea in terms of preparation and they could be worth a look to go all the way and win.
Corinthians, who also enter at the semi-final stage, must of course overcome Al Ahly in their semi-final match and the Egyptian side will again look to upset the betting after they beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-1 in their quarter-final match. It is their fourth World Club appearance and the 2012 CAF Champions League winners are the most successful African football club in history, although the bookies are clearly looking towards a Chelsea v Corinthians final in Yokohama on Sunday.
20/1 Al Ahly
Odds supplied by Bet365.com, who offer live betting in-running for every match at the 2012 World Club Championship.
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