#FIFA Club World Cup

Silva scoops gold

FIFA, 18 Feb 2022


Over the course of the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2021™, our Technical Study Group (TSG) are tasked with selecting the adidas Golden, Silver and Bronze Ball awards.

UEFA Champions League winners Chelsea were crowned Club World Cup Champions after a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Copa Libertadores champions, Palmeiras in front of a vocal crowd of 32,871 at the Mohammed Bin Zayed stadium. 

adidas Golden Ball award: Thiago Silva (Chelsea FC)


Chelsea centre-back, Thiago Silva, was selected by our TSG as the winner of the adidas Golden Ball. In both the semi-final and final, he was composed and strong when defending particularly against the pacy and technical Palmeiras and Al Hilal forwards but also featured strongly for his team when in possession.

He had the highest possession time of any player in the tournament, largely due to how Palmeiras set-up in a low block in the final and allowed him to have the ball. In his two games played, he retained the ball 93% of the time after receiving and had a 96% success rate on his distribution accuracy.

In terms of defensive actions per 90 minutes, he was ranked number two overall, making 10 blocks and 10 clearances in total, in the two games Chelsea played.

(6) Thiago Silva reads the situation before timing his challenge to win the ball back in Chelsea's semi-final game against Al Hilal. He then steps in with the ball to initiate a counter-attack.
Against Palmeiras, (6) Thiago Silva defends the situation by intercepting a forward pass to (16) Deyverson.
(6) Thiago Silva back peddles to contest a long ball in the air, winning his physical duel with (9) Ighalo (Al Hilal).
(6) Thiago Silva steps in, unopposed, with the ball against Palmeiras and takes a strike at goal.

Steve McClaren observed the tournament and commented, "Thiago Silva has been a great signing for Chelsea. He’s an excellent defender, terrific reader of the game and communicates so well with the players around him.  

On the ball, he makes the game look so easy. Great vision and desire to step in with the ball and also poses a real threat from set plays. He is a key player in the spine of this Chelsea team and offers them so much in and out of possession. 

In the semi-final against Al Hilal, he showed how good he is defensively, whereas in the final he controlled the tempo of the game." 

And according to Alberto Zaccheroni, "Silva played very well in the semi-final against Al Hilal. He had to defend in this match, and he did it well. In the final it was different. In possession, he played his part because Palmeiras allowed him to have the ball and he did an excellent job."

adidas Silver Ball award: Dudu (SE Palmeiras)


Palmeiras forward, Dudu, was selected by our TSG as the winner of the adidas Silver Ball. An electrifying forward player, he was creative and ignited his team's attacks when he was on the ball.

In their semi-final against Al Ahly, Dudu was a constant threat and danger for the defenders he was up against. He liked to run with the ball, had pace and technically could play creatively off one touch.

The ball moved quickly when he had it and, in the semi-final, he scored one goal and assisted another. In the final, Palmeiras adopted a defensive, low-block approach so he was required to operate in much deeper positions and had longer distances to goal when his team won the ball back, but he was dangerous on the counter-attack.

Dudu averaged 2.4 attempts at goal per game making him a potent attacking threat. Despite 100% of those attempts being under indirect pressure, he got 40% of them on target.

In their semi-final match against Al Ahly, (7) Dudu quickly engages with a Palmeiras counter-attack making a powerful forward run with the ball before scoring.
Against Chelsea, in the FIFA Club World Cup final, (7) Dudu makes a blistering run forward as Palmeiras counter-attack. Despite being well-tracked by (28) Azpilicueta, he takes an attempt at goal but fails to hit the target.
Against Al Ahly, (7) Dudu takes up a great position between the lines and plays a perfect one-touch forward pass to assist (23) Raphael Veiga's goal.

Alberto Zaccheroni commented, "He was highly creative in the semi-final and played very well. He showed how good an attacking player he is, but in the final he had so much defensive work to do. It was exhausting for him but when the opportunities arose, he was trying to create attacks."

In addition, Steve McClaren noted, "In the final, I felt he was asked to do too much defending and that’s not his strength. He is an exciting attacking player and was outstanding in their semi-final. He scored a wonderful goal and assisted another. He was Palmeiras' only real threat in the final but when he did get to go forward, he showed glimpses of what he is capable of."

adidas Bronze Ball award: Danilo (Palmeiras SE)


Palmeiras centre-midfielder, Danilo, was selected by our TSG as the winner of the adidas Bronze Ball.

A hard-working, young midfielder who showed great maturity in his reading of the game. Danilo caught the eye in his semi-final performance against Al Ahly because of how he screened and protected his back four from the deeper defensive position.

He demonstrated patience when it was needed to hold his position and good judgement to know when to go and commit to winning challenges and therefore was often a key player in initiating Palmeiras attacks and counter-attacks. Danilo's defensive workrate for his team is reflected in his numbers. He made 11 tackles, eight blocks and five clearances.

(28) Danilo demonstrates discipline in his defensive midfield role, screening the ball from being passed into the Al Ahly forward players. He then shows good awareness, anticipating the opportunity to go in and challenge for the ball, initiating a counter-attack for his team.
In the final against Chelsea, (28) Danilo demonstrates superb work ethic, positional awareness, and game intelligence to track the play and be in the perfect position to block (10) Pulisic's cutback cross.
Against Al Ahly, in their semi-final, (28) Danilo offers to receive from a throw-in before driving forward with the ball and cutting the ball back to create a goal-scoring opportunity for his team.
Against Chelsea, (28) Danilo transitions from defensive midfielder to attacking midfielder after winning the ball from (7) Kante.

Alberto Zaccheroni commented, "He attacked and defended. In the final, he showed initiative and was the standout Palmeiras midfielder when it came to starting attacks. He was the one who tried to find his forward players."

Steve McClaren noted, "He put in an outstanding performance in the semi-final, yet he had a much more defensive role for his team in the final because Palmeiras' approach was to sit in a low block. He was very disciplined in this role and had a tough job to do but did it very well.

He's a modern box-to-box midfielder though and does the hard work but he also has the vision and technique to play."

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