Club World Cup
December 13, 2012
Monterrey v Chelsea: Preview
Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has vowed to play a strong side in tomorrow'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, 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 confirmed he had watched videos of Monterrey 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.''
Monterrey boss Victor Manuel Vecetich, meanwhile, has declared beating Chelsea would be the greatest moment in the history of Mexican club football.
Vecetich was hoping to send shockwaves through the tournament in Japan by beating the team he hailed as "the number one club team in the world''.
Chelsea are overwhelming favourites to reach the final but the same applied to Manchester United at the inaugural tournament in 2000, where the Red Devils were held to a draw by Monterrey's Mexican rivals Necaxa en route to crashing out.
Vecetich claimed a win against Chelsea would top that and become the most important club result in his country's history.
"Yes, without question,'' he said.
"The Necaxa game in Rio, I remember that.
"We want to make history.
"I know our rivals very well but we believe in our own strengths. I believe we can win and we will try our best.''