Yokohama: European champion Chelsea will welcome a chance to rebound from a disappointing showing in both the Premier and Champions Leagues when it travels to Japan for the Club World Cup starting Thursday.
Chelsea coach Rafa Benitez is enduring a difficult return to the Premier League after two years, with the fans against him and the team underperforming. The Dec. 6-16 tournament is a chance to improve the fortunes of the team he inherited from the fired Roberto Di Matteo last month.
The Club World Cup features the champion clubs from FIFA's six confederations, plus a team from the host nation. New Zealand's Auckland City will face Japan's Sanfrecce Hiroshima in a playoff Thursday, with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals. Chelsea and Brazil's Corinthians have a bye to the semifinals.