Torres: Club World Cup crucial
Chelsea striker Fernando Torres believes a FIFA Club World Cup winners medal would be just as valuable as the gold he collected when Spain conquered the football world at South Africa 2010.
Torres and his fellow European champions have arrived in Japan hoping to add another major trophy to their collection and he has been quick to talk up the significance of a competition that has rarely been given a high profile in England down the years.
"How many people don't take this tournament seriously, or don't think it is like the real World Cup," asked the 28-year-old. "It is for the clubs. You ask the South American people. David Luiz showed me a video of Corinthians fans at the airport, it was full of fans cheering the team and travelling to Japan to support, so it is important.
"In Europe, maybe we don't give it as much attention, and to some people it might not mean much, but to me it does. So this is not a holiday or a break, this is a World Cup. It's nice to be involved, and maybe to be able to say you are a world champion. The European Super Cup was just as important to us and we lost, so we don't want that disappointment again."
Torres will lead the line for Chelsea in their semi-final clash with Mexican club Monterrey on Thursday with his confidence boosted by four goals in his last two games, yet he is still smarting from the miserable conclusion to the Blues Champions League defence, after they crashed out in the group stages last week.
Admitting that success in the FIFA Club World Cup will only partially heal the heartbreak of that failure, Torres is the first to concede that the fallen kings of Europe have been left deflated by their premature demise.
"Winning this trophy wouldn't make up for the Champions League, they are different things," he told the Chelsea website. "It was a dream to win it last season and we wanted to do it again this time to be the first team to do two in a row, and it's a big disappointment to go out in the group stage, but now we must forget the Champions League, because we are out, and focus on this instead.
"There are not many chances to play in this competition, so we have to take it. Who knows if we will play in another one? We must look forward, we are in a different competition now, the Europa League, and we want to win that too to play in and win another Super Cup."
Meanwhile, stand-in Chelsea captain Petr Cech has talked up the improving mood inside the Blues camp, insisting the negative publicity that surrounded the appointment of new boss Rafael Benitez last month is beginning to disperse.
"The atmosphere is getting better as the results and performances are getting better," he told reporters in Japan. "Results and better performances take this pressure off the team and make the supporters happier. We are on a good road now to changing that atmosphere now.
"It's easy for people from outside to speak about 'drama' at Chelsea, because they just see the games, but football is not about one or two games. It's not about the past, more the present and future and the hard work every day at the training ground.
"You need to have really good analysis of the team and you can only do that if you see the team working on a daily basis. Then you see the situation improving on a daily basis or not."