Rafa Benitez begins his attempt to win a second Club World Cup as a manger.
It's tough sometimes to get excited about the Club World Cup. Despite the fact it's a semi-legitimate trophy, it's likely to never be the first competition on the tongues of people when asked what title they'd most like to win. Still, it's silverware and you get to put a cool patch on your jersey for the following year ... and who doesn't love a cool patch!
Chelsea and Monterrey will meet in the second Club World Cup semifinal with a chance for play for that cool patch on the line. Neither team has ever won this tournament in either it's current form or the various forms it took from its initial creation in 2000. If the Rayados can defeat Chelsea, it would guarantee the first non-European winner on the cup since 2006. So for those of you who don't like European football, there's that to cheer for.
The added sub-plot surrounding this match is that the much maligned Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez has been gifted a chance to with a trophy with his likely temporary club. Benitez of course did nothing to get the team in this position but he stands to gain from the minor windfall should his Blues win today and in the final against Corinthians. A defeat would just give the multitude of Chelsea supporters who already have a healthy dislike of Rafa even more to crow about.
This is Benitez's third trip to the Club World Cup, having lost with Liverpool in 2005 and won the tournament in 2012 with Inter.
At the very least a win is this match and in the final would give Chelsea a much needed morale boost after a tough few weeks that have seen them knocked out of the Champions League and struggling a bit in the league.
Chelsea injuries and suspensions
Monterrey injuries and suspensions
Out: Humberto Suazo (thigh), Cesar de la Pena (knee). In Doubt: None.
Romeu, Terry and Sturridge were all left in London with their various ailments and will not be available should Chelsea advance. Suazo has a tear in his thigh muscle and will miss the tournament.
Match Date/Time: 8:30 p.m. local, 5:30 a.m. ET
Venue: International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan
TV: FOX Soccer (U.S.), BBC (U.K.)