Yokohama: Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez said he is unconcerned about his future with the team ahead of Sunday's Club World Cup final against Corinthians of Brazil. The Spaniard spoke before Chelsea's final training session on Saturday and said he was only focused on the upcoming contest. Benitez took over last month after the club fired Roberto Di Matteo and has received less than a warm reception from its supporters.
"Preparing the team properly is my first task," said Benitez. "I am not thinking about what is going on in the future. I am worried about tomorrow. We must play the game first, then we can think about other things." The 52-year-old Benitez will be managing in his third Club World Cup final. He won the tournament in 2010 in the United Arab Emirates when he led Inter Milan to 3-1 victory over Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Liverpool lost to Sao Paulo 1-0 in the 2005 final in Yokohama with Benitez at the helm.
"I'm pleased and proud that I could manage three top teams in the world in this tournament," Benitez stated. "To be here, you have to be champions." Though he has only been in charge for a few weeks, Benitez had high praise for his Chelsea players. "They have a lot of positives," noted Benitez. "Talent, commitment, passion. We will try to keep this winning mentality." Benitez believes Corinthians will present a significant challenge for the Premier League side.
"They have a lot of good players like Emerson and Paulinho," Benitez said. "They are compact and have a lot of players who make a difference. Hopefully we can keep them quiet." Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic is certain that he will have a key role in deciding the outcome of the final. "Always the defensive line is deciding the big games," he commented. "We know it will be tough. The final will all come down to a few moments. We look forward to big matches like this."
Ivanovic is hopeful that Chelsea can put behind the disappointment of being knocked out the Champions League last week in the group stage and start fresh by winning a trophy here. "This is a key point for the new generation of our players," he said. "Being eliminated from the Champions League was a little bit disappointing. Tomorrow is the new chance to make history."
Benitez is likely to bring midfielder Frank Lampard off the bench again on Sunday. Lampard, who returned from a six-week injury layoff in last Saturday's Premier League in win over Sunderland, came on in the second half of Thursday's 3-1 semifinal victory over Monterrey of Mexico. "Frank is coming off his second major injury," Benitez said. "I'm trying to give him more time on the pitch, but I have to consider his condition."
Benitez said he had not decided on his team yet for Sunday. "I can choose any players because I know they will perform well," he said. "Frank is important, but I don't have the team yet. We will watch training and then the staff and I will consult."