Chelsea fans still harbour animosity towards their Spanish manager, Rafa Benitez but the noises have become customary, the anger more subtle and results have improved for Rafa's men on the pitch. Chelsea beat Monterrey 3-1 in the Club World Cup semi-final and their performance suggested the return to the well-oiled machine that Chelsea were in the past albeit the win was against a significantly weaker opposition. But the old adage in football is that you can only beat the team put in front of you. Considering the fact that the Club World Cup is one such tournament where victory is expected and any less than routine execution of the same would cause furore, Chelsea went about their job in a ruthless manner.
Luiz in a holding midfield role
David Luiz, was pushed into a holding midfield role, given the license to dictate play further up the pitch when Chelsea had possession. This meant two things. One, Rafa Benitez was ready to act on what many Chelsea fans have been suggesting for long. Given that it was outside the Premier League, pressure was considerably less and maybe an ideal time to try this move out. The move worked fantastically as Luiz cut open the Monterrey defence twice with wonderful passes and had Chelsea attacking players been more clinical, both passes could have yielded goals for the outgoing European Champions. Two, Luiz himself played like a man born to play the holding midfield role. He has been a good passer of the ball and feels comfortable dribbling and has decent finishing skills. These are the attributes any manager would want his midfielder to have. At the heart of defence, over-indulgence in possession is frowned upon. In midfield, it is almost desirable if it yields defence splitting passes like the ones Luiz conjured up.
The stories of Torres struggling are as old as the man himself, it seems. Any match that the Spaniard fails to score is big news, even if Chelsea win the match, thanks to their gifted attacking players like Hazard, Mata and Oscar. But Torres has scored 5 goals in last 3 matches, even if they have come against weaker opposition. But had he been struggling, his obituaries would be written and rewritten already.
Benitez has tweaked the Chelsea attacking display a little bit and by Torres's admission, they play in a more direct fashion, taking lesser touches on the ball and the idea is to make the chance available to Torres, a role he relishes. Such a nuanced change in Chelsea's playing style has resulted in more goals for Torres and he would hope it continues.
Club World Cup
Chelsea have made it to the final of the tournament and they face Brazilian side Corinthians. The Brazilians will provide a sterner test than Monterrey but Chelsea's battery of Brazilians would be keen to ensure that the English team win the battle. There is another sub-plot to this interesting match-up. It is Chelsea's interest in Corinthians midfielder Paulinho, who has shone in the past year and given the fact that Oriol Romeu is out injured for a long time, Chelsea's interest could be more than just speculation. For his part, Paulinho would love to give Chelsea a taste of what he is capable of doing.
Overall, Chelsea are expected to lift the Club World Cup title but back home is where potential trouble awaits. While other teams are already playing their matches and chalking points on the board, Chelsea could be very far off the lead when they get back. It is in these times that Benitez's ability to motivate the side could come in handy. Chelsea fans would surely hope that their side keeps building on the recent run of wins Chelsea have notched up.938324