• I can live with burden of expectation, says Chelsea keeper
• Rafael Benítez: we will try our best to win the trophy
Chelsea have arrived in Japan with glowing words for the Fifa Club World Cup, and their goalkeeper, Petr Cech, insisting they will accept the burden of expectation as favourites to win the trophy for the first time, despite recent toils back home.
The Premier League club, like the Copa Libertadores winner Corinthians, who face Al-Ahly of Egypt on Wednesday – have been seeded and will open their campaign against the Mexican side Monterrey in Thursday's semi-final at the international stadium. Chelsea travelled having won their last two matches, against Nordsjaelland, albeit as they slipped out of the Champions League, and Sunderland on Saturday, victories that checked a dismal recent run that had cost Roberto Di Matteo his position as manager.
Now under the interim stewardship of Rafael Benítez, they will attack the competition with relish. "We were already straight into the semi-finals, like Corinthians, so we have to be seen as the favourites," said Cech, who has captained the side over recent weeks in the prolonged absences of John Terry and Frank Lampard through injury. "I can live with that fact. It's not a problem for us. We came to do our best and try to win the competition, and we can assume the position of favourites and will try to prove this on the pitch.
"I'm actually very happy that we can be here for this tournament. It means a lot to every player to play in great tournaments. You only get the invitation to play here if you win the Champions League, and that's not easy to achieve. It took me eight years at Chelsea to get the invitation to play in this tournament. We hope we make the most of it and win. The last two results were very good for us, so we will try to carry on with this momentum and that can take us through. It's too early to judge if the season is on course but we are [moving] in the right way. I hope the team will confirm that on the pitch."
Terry has remained in England to undergo further treatment on a knee ligament injury – there was a slight inflammation on the joint last week which was causing the centre-half discomfort – and has been joined back at Cobham by Daniel Sturridge and Oriol Romeu. The former is continuing his rehabilitation after a hamstring complaint while Romeu injured a knee at Sunderland and is being assessed by the medical department. Sturridge could yet join up with the squad later in the week, with the teenage midfielder George Saville having been included in the travelling party.
Benitez's squad, who arrived on Sunday evening having flown from Newcastle via Helsinki, trained in Yokohama as they bid to acclimatise ahead of the Monterrey game. The Concacaf champions defeated the South Korean club Ulsan Hyundai in Sunday's quarter-final. "This is a massive competition," said Benítez, who won the trophy with Internazionale in Abu Dhabi back in 2010. "We hope to do well and will try our best to win it. We try to win every trophy we can. We have played better the past two games and hope to continue this."
The tournament will also see goal-line technology used by Fifa for the first time, with systems from the camera-based HawkEye, in Toyota City, and the magnetic field-based GoalRef, in Yokohama, to be used. That move has been welcomed by Cech.
"I'm very happy with the decision that technology goes forward," he added. "I've been saying for the past 10 years that it was a big fact that football needed this. You can see in the course of history that results in certain competitions could've been different.
"As a player you would rather wait for the right decision than be disappointed by a wrong one. I'm really pleased this is the first of many times it will be used. I hope everything goes smoothly and we will see the benefits of it."