Chelsea will not take Monterrey lightly insists Rafael Benitez

Blues in Japan for Club World Cup

Rafael Benitez vowed to play a strong side in Chelsea's Club World Cup semi-final against Monterrey, despite admitting his players were still suffering with jet lag.

The European champions arrived in Japan four days ago but were still struggling to adapt to the nine-hour time difference this afternoon ahead of tomorrow's clash with their CONCACAF counterparts.

With Chelsea also in the midst of a punishing schedule of fixtures and facing injury problems in key positions, interim manager Benitez could be forgiven for resting several of his stars against a side that should be beaten in any event.

But the Spaniard was determined to field as strong a line-up as possible at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama.

Asked whether he would play a team of youngsters tomorrow, he said: "No, I intend to win. I'll pick players to win the first game.

"You cannot think about the final until you've won the semi-final."

Benitez, who is managing at the competition for the third time, added of his squad: "My experience in this tournament is to assess them the day before, see how they feel and you can see some players are fresher than others.

"I don't have an idea now as to who I will play."

Benitez admitted his players had found it tough adjusting to the time difference, joking that his and Chelsea's main focus was "to try to sleep more than four hours".

He added: "We've tried to adapt to the time, the pitch, the ball - everything.

"It's all a bit new, but we've done everything we have to do."

The new ball contains a microchip for the GoalRef goalline technology, which makes its debut in a competitive match tomorrow.

Chelsea should not need a 'ghost goal' to beat Monterrey, despite the Mexicans already improving on their fifth place at last year's tournament.

Benitez confirmed he had watched videos of tomorrow's opponents but betrayed the difficulty of knowing them inside out when he referred to several of their dangermen by number instead of name.

He also reiterated the importance of Chelsea winning the Club World Cup, which he failed to do with Liverpool in 2005 but managed with Inter Milan two years ago.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson dubbed Benitez "lucky" to have been given the chance to pick it up again after the Spaniard was parachuted in to replace Roberto Di Matteo last month.

Reminded of the jibe, Benitez said: "The first thing is to beat Monterrey if we want to be in the final.

"If we win, maybe we'll deserve to win."

That would be the minimum requirement from owner Roman Abramovich, who reportedly is treating this competition very seriously indeed, but Benitez made light of the pressure on him from above, joking: "I'm not considering playing Abramovich at centre-forward.

"I'd prefer Fernando Torres or another one."

Torres arrived in Japan having scored four goals in two matches following his latest long drought.

Benitez said: "I would like to see Fernando playing well every game and scoring goals, but it's not just the manager.

"I can speak with him in Spanish and say what I know, but the main thing is the team are creating more chances.

"The players have good mentality and, if they create more chances, a striker will score more goals if he's in the right place."

Chelsea are reportedly in the market for a new forward in the January transfer window, having been touted with a move for Radamel Falcao among others.

Oriol Romeu's season-ending injury has also left them short of holding midfielders, with their only other recognised player in that position, John Obi Mikel, on African Nations Cup duty next month.

Chelsea have been linked with the likes of Corinthians' Paulinho, Newcastle's Cheick Tiote and Everton's Marouane Fellaini.

Benitez said: "The club is working and always looking for good players, so we'll see if there are any surprises."

Benitez admitted the seriousness of Romeu's injury, which he suffered in Saturday's Barclays Premier League win at Sunderland, had taken Chelsea by surprise.

"Oriol Romeu was bad news and we weren't expecting something so serious," he said.

"He'll be fine for the future, he's a young player."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there