Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benítez selected David Luiz alongside John Obi Mikel in Thursday’s match against Monterrey, choosing to leave Ramires on the bench. On arriving from Benfica, Chelsea fans were told of Brazilian’s ability to play across the back four and even in midfield. But Blues fans have had to wait for nearly two years before seeing the 25-year-old deployed in the middle of the pitch. Four minutes in, Luiz had his first significant touch, interlinking well with Oscar before bursting through and curling a shot just over Jonathan Orozco’s goal. Then moments later, he turned provider, escaping his marker before playing a brilliant through ball for Eden Hazard. The shackles of being a centre-half were off and the Brazilian’s skill was there for all the world to see.
Building up to the Fifa Club World Cup many have questioned the importance of a competition, which was only introduced in its current guise, six years ago. In Spain and Brazil, the opportunity to become the official ‘best club in the world’ is a big deal. Particularly with 20,000 odd Corinthians fans, who have travelled to see their team play in Japan. However, if anyone had any doubts about the meaning for Chelsea – the players rejoicing around the corner flag after Juan Mata curled in his effort on 17 minutes to put his side one nil up – was surely enough to dispel any negative feelings about the cup.
Has Fernando Torres finally turned the corner? The Spaniard looked sharp and powerful against the CONCACAF champions and duly scored his fifth goal in three games. Chelsea should have won the game before half-time but they won it within three minutes of the re-start when they scored a quick-fire double. Hazard’s cut-back set Torres up just inside the area and the striker flung his left peg at the ball to score the Blues’ second. Replays showed that the shot was veering off target but the former Liverpool striker won’t mind. Torres’ 12 goals this season keep him ahead of Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tévez in the scoring charts. Who said he was not the player of yesteryear? Torres’ movement has certainly improved, perhaps through his goal scoring or through Benítez – it is difficult to tell. Since his brace against Nordsjaelland, confidence has flowed through his play and seconds later he played a superb ball with the outside of his foot to Mata, whose own ball back into the box was turned in by Darvin Chavez.
Despite there being nearly 6,000 miles between Stamford Bridge and Yokohama International Stadium, support for former manager Roberto Di Matteo resounded around the stadium. Come the 16th minute – the former squad number of the Italian – chants of “One Di Matteo” were heard amongst the 36,648 crowd from the 900 Chelsea fans who had made the long trip. Benítez has turned things around since arriving at the club nearly four weeks ago – winning three, drawing two and losing against West Ham 3-1. The team is showing solidarity at the back while maintaining its style with the “Three Amigos” (Oscar, Mata and Hazard) in attack. Yet, Blues fans continue to cheer for club hero Di Matteo. Maybe if Chelsea are triumphant come Sunday – when they play Corinthians in the final – supporters will begin to look forward rather than back.
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