While football has been at the forefront of everybody’s mind here in Japan, the players were given a rare night off earlier in the week, which was spent enjoying a very competitive game of 10-pin bowling, before heading out to a local restaurant for a bite to eat.
Having travelled to the Far East, coming straight off the back of last weekend’s trip to Sunderland, Rafael Benitez decided that in order keep the players’ body clocks in sync and prevent any added fatigue, it was best to keep them up and active for as long as possible.
‘I was here in 2005 and we knew we had to do something, because you have to keep the players busy, if not they go to sleep,’ says the Blues boss.
‘The idea with these activities is you don’t do too many, because we are here to work, but some things at specific times when they are thinking they need to go to bed, then something like that is fun. I think they understand that we need to do something.’
En route to their destination, surprised supporters couldn’t quite believe they were witnessing the champions of Europe casually strolling along the street. While on arrival, the players wasted little time in getting involved.
The Brazilian quartet of Ramires, David Luiz, Oscar and Lucas Piazon occupied the first lane, while next to them were the English lads.
Gary Cahill proved he’s equally effective with his hands as he is with his feet and scored a couple of early strikes, and the defender, who admitted that he, Ryan Bertrand, Ross Turnbull, Ashley Cole and George Saville had decided to spice their contest up a notch, was delighted not to end up with the wooden spoon.
‘It wasn’t about who won, it was about who lost in our group because they had to get the dinner in, and it was Ashley,’ explains Cahill. ‘He was waiting on us back at the hotel but I think he’s a better left-back than he is a waiter.
‘It was more about getting out, seeing the place and having a look around. It was good, all the lads got together and then we went out and had some food.
‘It was quite small so we took up the whole place. Everybody played; the manager, players and staff.’
Benitez, who was up against the likes of Steve Holland and members of the backroom staff, was certainly no slouch on the lanes, while his fellow countrymen Fernando Torres, Juan Mata and Cesar Azpilicueta proved that it’s not only the football arena in which the Spanish excel.
Cahill, though, while delighted to get out for an evening, explained that trips such as these are purely focused on making sure the players perform at the highest possible level where it really matters – on the football pitch.
‘There were a few strikes, the standard was quite high, but that was the only time we’ve been out really, the rest of the time we’ve been training or playing,’ said the Blues defender.
‘Obviously we’re here to prepare for matches, we’re not on holiday, but it’s good to get out for an hour or two.
‘It’s just good fun, in the hotel they’ve set up a games room where we can play a bit of FIFA or table tennis, so we’re not just sitting in our rooms.’