YOKOHAMA: Rafael Benitez said yesterday Chelsea had put the disappointment of being knocked out of the Champions League behind them, on the eve of a mouthwatering Club World Cup final against Corinthians.
The English giants became the first European champions to be dumped out at the group stage, just days before they jetted off to Japan for a semifinal clash against Monterrey in their debut appearance at the intercontinental event.
"Before the Monterrey match, I was a bit concerned that going out of the Champions League would have a negative impact," Benitez said.
"It may motivate the squad because now we have an opportunity to win the Club World Cup and that's very good for us," the Spaniard added.
Chelsea outclassed the Mexican side in Thursday's semifinal 3-1 but Benitez, expects a far tougher match against the Copa Libertadores winners in today's final at Yokohama's International Stadium.
"When we talk about Brazilian clubs I have to mention their very good quality," the 52-year-old said.
"They have a very good system, are well organised and know what to do.
"Corinthians... are very defensive, it will be difficult to create opportunities and the match will be very tough," he added. "They have a lot of good players, not just (midfielder) Paulinho, I like Cassio, the goalkeeper. "They are a team who are compact and they have players who can make a difference, so hopefully we can keep them quiet.
"It's hard to find faults, but let's talk about how good they are after tomorrow's match."
Benitez, only three weeks into his caretaker role at Chelsea, is the first manager to take three different sides to a Club World Cup final — losing with Liverpool in 2005 and triumphing with Italy's Inter Milan in 2010.
He goes into the final hoping a win will placate those Chelsea fans who still harbour a grudge from his time as Liverpool manager and have continued to boo him during matches since his appointment.