YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — Chelsea is struggling to get over jet lag ahead of Thursday's Club World Cup semifinal against Monterrey of Mexico.
Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez said the team is still adjusting to the time change after arriving on Sunday on the long trip from London. "My players are focusing on trying to sleep," Benitez said Wednesday. "We are trying to adapt to the time, pitch and ball. Everything is new."
As Champions League winner, Chelsea is seeded into the semifinals along with South American champion Corinthians. The Brazilian side beat Egypt's Al-Ahly 1-0 on Wednesday to advance to the final. Chelsea will meet CONCACAF champion Monterrey in Yokohama. The Mexican side defeated Asian Champions League winner Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea 3-1 in the quarterfinals.
Benitez, who took over as Chelsea manager last month after Roberto Di Matteo was fired, is still trying to put his imprint on the club. "We are trying to change the little things to improve," he said. "We are trying to be more compact. We played better the last two matches and have improved."
Chelsea beat Sunderland 3-1 on Saturday for the club's first victory in eight Premier League games. Benitez, who is managing in his third Club World Cup, made it clear he is not underestimating Monterrey.
"I intend to win," he said. "I will use the best players in the semifinal. We have to check the tempo of the game. They have good tactics. We will try to play at a high tempo, with passing and scoring."
Benitez said midfielder Frank Lampard, who returned against Sunderland after a six-week layoff due to an injured calf, is healthy and ready to play on Thursday. "He has been training and is normal," he said. "He is fine."
Chelsea captain John Terry did not make the trip as he recovers from a knee injury sustained against Liverpool last month. Dender Gary Cahill said the team is studying video of the Mexican team to prepare for the match.
"We don't know too much about them. They are a good team. They get the ball down and play," Cahill said. "They can play long. They have talented footballers. It will be a good test for us." Cahill said that, although Benitez has only been in charge of the club for a few weeks, his general message has been delivered.
"We have tightened up our defense and gotten some good results the past couple of matches," he said. "The lads are fully aware of the strategy he (Benitez) wants and have adapted well." After a few days in Japan, Cahill believes his teammates have come to appreciate the prestige of the event.
"You come to Chelsea to win trophies," he said. "This is a fantastic competition. It has sunk in for us how big this is." Cahill, who joined Chelsea from Bolton Wanderers in January, is relishing his time with some of the biggest names in the game.
"If you want experience in big games, you move to Chelsea," he said. "You play with the best players in the world and get good experience." .