Petr Cech believes our players will have no problem living with the tag of tournament favourites ahead of our inaugural appearance at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan.
Our Champions League triumph last May ensured we enter the competition at the semi-final stage, where we will face Mexican side Monterrey – who beat Ulsan Hyundai 3-1 in Sunday’s quarter-final – and the Blues goalkeeper believes it’s imperative, if we are to be successful, that we take one game at a time.
‘We have to take it step by step,’ said Cech. ‘Monterrey have a slight advantage as they have been here and are acclimatised, they had a very good game yesterday, and will now face us on Thursday.
‘We need to get as fit as possible as fast as possible, acclimatise and get used to the change in hours. I hope it’s going to work and we are looking forward to the game.
‘We were already seeded to play in the semi-finals, ourselves and Corinthians are seen as the favourites, but we can live with that fact, I have no problem with it. We’ve come to do our best and win the competition, we can assume the position as favourites and we will try to do our best on the pitch.’
With December a notoriously hectic period in the football calendar, it’s fair to say that the competition hasn’t come at an ideal time.
After playing two games while here, the players will then return to the UK before making the trip to take on Leeds United in the Capital One Cup two days later.
Cech, though, is certainly not complaining, acknowledging that our first appearance in the Club World Cup has been a long time coming.
‘I’m very happy to be here, it means a lot for any player if you can play in such a great tournament,’ he explained.
‘You only get your invitation when you win the Champions League, which isn’t easy. I had to wait eight years to get the entry with Chelsea, so I hope we will make the most of it.
‘Our last two results were very good, so we will try to carry that momentum into this tournament and we hope it will take us through.’
The competition will go down in history as the first of its kind to trial goal-line technology, an implementation which has been championed for many years.
Cech is no stranger to controversial strikes, having suffered at the hands of Luis Garcia’s ‘ghost goal’ for Liverpool against the Blues in the 2004/05 Champions League semi-final, and, somewhat unsurprisingly, he is fully supportive of the decision.
‘I’m very happy with the decision and the trial,’ said Cech. ‘I’ve been saying for the last 10 years that the game needed it. You can see with history that results in certain competitions could have been different.
‘As a player you would rather wait a bit longer to have a correct decision rather than be disappointed, so I’m glad it’s come in and I hope everything goes smoothly and we will see the benefits of it.’
It’s been a testing few weeks for the club, with the upheaval of the transition in management coupled with becoming the first holders of the Champions League to exit the tournament at the group stage.
However, Saturday’s victory at Sunderland, coming three days after the 6-1 win over Nordsjaelland, sees us head into the Club World Cup in good spirits, and Cech believes there is still plenty of time to make this another season to remember.
‘Every manager has his own style and philosophy, as a player the target is to adapt quickly, work well and make the manager pick you for the starting line-up,’ explained the 31-year-old.
‘We are going through a period where we changed the manager, but I want to do everything to give him no choice but to put me in goal.
‘The season is a long course but we are going the right way, and if the team is doing well that’s the best thing for the manager as well.’