Benitez says Chelsea benefiting from his changes
YOKOHAMA, Japan (AFP) –
Interim Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez said Wednesday his players were reaping the benefits of changes he had brought to the team’s style of play, on the eve of a Club World Cup showdown with Monterrey.
“We’ve tried to change little things, things we could improve,” said the Spaniard, who replaced Champions League-winning coach Roberto Di Matteo last month.
“Tactically we’ve tried to be more compact and press high,” he added ahead of the Blues semi-final clash in Japan with the CONCACAF champions from Mexico.
Chelsea come into the intercontinental tournament on the back of an away win at Sunderland on Saturday, which ended a poor run of league results, including two goalless draws and a loss in Benitez’s first three games in charge.
“When you change manager, players want to prove that they should be picked for every game and that’s been the situation,” Benitez told a press conference in Yokohama, according to quotes published on the Chelsea website.
“In the last two games we’ve played much better, created more chances and that’s good for the confidence of the players.”
Benitez, who led Inter Milan to glory at the Club World Cup in 2010, said he was taking nothing for granted at the Japan showpiece.
“I cannot refer to the final, because we have to win the semi-finals (first),” he said when asked about his chances in what would be a mouth-watering meeting with Brazilian giants Corinthians in Sunday’s final.
“I intend to win, so I will try to use the best team possible for winning the game, and after that we will think about the other one,” he added.
Corinthians await the winners of Thursday’s match after the Sao Paulo outfit defeated Al Ahly of Egypt 1-0 in the other semi-final on Wednesday.
Benitez said he expected Monterrey, who cruised past Asian champions Ulsan Hyundai 3-1 in the quarter-finals, to be tough opponents.
“They’re a good team who can play the passing game and move the ball easily, but at the same time they can play more direct,” he said.
“It will be an interesting test for us, we need to manage the tempo of the game and see if they can match us physically.
“They can change tactics as well during the game, change shape and play different formations, so the coach is doing a good job.”
Monterrey coach Victor Vucetich said he was unbowed by the prospect of taking on the English Premier League outfit, despite their status as European champions.
“We want to show our potential against them and write history,” he said.