Thursday’s FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2012 semi-final gives both Chelsea FC and Club de Futbol Monterrey a shot at redemption. Eliminated in the group phase of the UEFA Champions League only last week, the Londoners have the chance to assuage their disappointment by winning their first global title. For the Mexicans, meanwhile, the tie represents an opportunity to atone for last year’s early exit at the quarter-final stage. Los Rayados went some way to achieving that goal by defeating Korea Republic’s Ulsan Hyundai on Sunday, and a place in the final at the expense of a club with Chelsea’s reputation would more than make up for the pain they felt 12 months ago.
Monterrey-Chelsea, International Stadium Yokohama
Thursday 13 December, 19.30 (local time)
As they showed against Ulsan, Monterrey are not lacking in quality, not with a player like Cesar Delgado in their ranks. The adventurous Argentinian midfielder struck twice late on to kill off the South Koreans in the quarters and orchestrated his side’s attacks with aplomb, linking up with Aldo de Nigris and youngster Jesus Corona to slice through the Ulsan defence time and again. The question is, can they repeat the feat against a rearguard packed with experienced international talent?
Though Chelsea’s season has not been running to plan, as evidenced by their failed Champions League defence, and Rafa Benitez has only just taken over in the dugout, the Mexicans will need to be on their guard. The Blues hit top form prior to their departure for Japan, thrashing Nordsjaelland 6-1 at home last week and then earning a 3-1 win at Sunderland in the league on Saturday.
5 - Delgado’s two-goal show against Ulsan delighted the fans at the Toyota Stadium and also extended an unusual sequence, with Argentinian players having now scored braces at each of the last five FIFA Club World Cups. Delgado’s predecessors were Christian Gimenez (for Pachuca in 2008), Leandro Benitez (Estudiantes, 2009), Dario Cvitanich (Pachuca, 2010) and Lionel Messi (Barcelona, 2011).
“You’re always working to win. We know that Chelsea have a great squad but we have to go out and repeat what we did in our first game. We’ve got confidence in ourselves and we’re going to fight hard for the result we want and stick together as a team,” Monterrey coach, Victor Vucetich.
“In a tournament like this you need to go out and show what you can do and play well. It’s good to have an opportunity to win a trophy, especially one like this. I’ve coached a team to victory in this competition before [Inter Milan] and it was a great experience for me. I hope the players can have just as good an experience now,” Chelsea coach Rafa Benitez.