Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Benitez Insists He Is Up for the Cup

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Benitez Insists He Is Up for the Cup

Article excerpt

Byline: Ben Rumsby

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 ahead of today's clash with their CONCACAF counterparts.

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

However, 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 today, 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, jokinghis 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 today. 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 today'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. …

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