--%>
Loading...
Loading Live Scoring...
*All times CAT (GMT+2)

Football | International

Gary Cahill © Action Images

Chelsea are tighter under Benitez - Cahill



Chelsea have become more compact defensively under interim manager Rafael Benitez as they prepare for the soccer Club World Cup in Japan, defender Gary Cahill said on Wednesday.

The English Premier League side, who face Mexico's Monterrey in their semifinal in Yokohama on Thursday, took four games to register their first win under the Spaniard.

However, nine goals in their last two matches have given Chelsea a boost for a tournament they are under pressure to win after an embarrassing group-stage exit from the Champions League.

"Since (Benitez) came we have tightened up as a unit defensively and as a team," Cahill told reporters.

"That's given us a platform to build on. It was hard at first to get his points across because we were playing games almost every other day.

"Now the players are adapting, they know what's expected of them and it's working well at the minute."

Cahill said the Chelsea players had realised the significance of the Club World Cup since flying out to Japan following Saturday's 3-1 win at Sunderland.

"Since coming here it's sunk in now how big it is," the centre-back said. "It's hard to get into the competition in the first place.

"We've come all this way and want to win it. Our Brazilian players have said it's absolutely huge for them and we saw the send-off (Corinthians) got at the airport."

Some 15 000 Corinthians fans saw off their team in Sao Paulo, waving banners and letting off fire extinguishers in the airport lobby.

DREAM CHANCE

Chelsea have Brazilians David Luiz, Ramires and Oscar among their ranks and Benitez echoed Cahill's sentiments about how much the Club World Cup meant to them.

"They said it was a dream for them to play in the tournament," said Benitez, who won the trophy with Inter Milan in 2010 and was a runner-up with Liverpool in 2005.

"I intend to win the tournament," said Benitez, who replaced the sacked Roberto Di Matteo last month.

"I will use the best team possible - you can't leave it for the final. You have to win your semifinal."

While club captain John Terry remained in London for treatment on a knee injury, Frank Lampard is likely to play a part after overcoming a nagging calf problem.

"Frank Lampard will be available," confirmed Benitez, who knows any slip-ups in Japan could prompt trigger-happy Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to hire a new coach.

"My main focus is to get the players to sleep for more than four hours.

"My experience with this tournament is to look at the condition of the players in training. Some are fresher than others. We have plenty of options."

With Fernando Torres rediscovering his touch after an alarming drought and scoring four goals in the last two games, Benitez even cracked a joke about Abramovich.

Asked if he had received any message from the Russian tycoon, Benitez said: "Not at the moment. But I'm not planning on playing Abramovich at centre-forward; I prefer Torres."

Shop

Gerrard: My Autobiography
Steven Gerrard is a hero to millions, not only as the inspirational captain of Liverpool FC, but as a key member of the England team.
R161.00
Rafa: My Story
Revelatory memoir from the greatest sportsman in the world today.
R182.00
Mitre Monde Soccer Ball - White
Voted as one of the UK's favourite match balls
R219.00


Comments

More expert analysis and opinion from Sport24
The opinions expressed by Sport24 experts and bloggers are theirs alone, and do not necessarily represent those of SuperSport

Event Streaming

Channel Streaming

Other Live Streaming

Event Streaming

Channel Streaming

Sports Talk



John Dykes
Hero worship from Bollywood to Bayern
A truly hectic travel schedule provided a timely reminder of the way football lights up people’s...

Dr Errol Sweeney
Refereeing cowardice or good player management?
Was this good refereeing or refereeing cowardice? The incident highlighted in the picture again...

Chima Emmanuel Aguma
Is this the turning point for Man United?
Before the season started, if anyone told Manchester United’s new boss Louis Van Gaal that at...

Carol Radull
No mystery why Arsenal can't beat United
I am a little delusional. When it comes to Arsenal, I always am. To say that I am a frustrated...

Arjun Vidyarthi
Shankly said it best
These days the words of Bill Shankly seem to be echoing in my ears every weekend. “If you can't...

Neil Tovey
Lost in translation
The May Mahlangu situation highlights the fact that communication in football is vital.