Rafa in a World of trouble at Inter
Published 23:00 07/12/10 By James Nursey
Rafa Benitez admits he is anxious to win the Fifa Club World Cup to save his job at Inter Milan.
Benitez, 50, is under huge pressure already in Italy since swapping Liverpool for the San Siro in the summer.
He succeeded Jose Mourinho, who went to Real Madrid after impressively winning a domestic treble and the Champions League with Inter.
But Benitez’s start to life in Serie A has not gone well with his new charges lying fifth already. They have lost four league games which is as many matches as they did in the whole of last term under Mourinho.
Spaniard Benitez has also already found himself embroiled in politics at Inter with president Massimo Moratti battling internal dissent.
Defeat to arch-rivals AC Milan last month saw Leonardo, Frank Rijkaard and Carlos Dunga all mentioned as potential replacements.
Now Benitez admits this week’s tournament in Abu Dhabi has taken on added significance for him. And he is determined to go one better than 2005, when his Liverpool side lost 1-0 to Sao Paulo in the final.
“I think that, for all of us, it will be an important event,” Benitez said. “For me, as a coach, it is an opportunity to win an incredibly important tournament.
“I remember the past with Liverpool, but I must forget and think about the future, because I think it is more important to move on and believe we can win this time.”
Inter won a prior version of the Club World Cup in 1964 and 1965, when it was called the Intercontinental Cup.
This year’s tournament starts today and Inter have a bye to the semi-finals.
They will face either Asian Champions League winners Seongnam Ilhwa of South Korea, Al Wahda of the United Arab Emirates or Oceania champions Hekari United of Papua New Guinea.
A semi-final victory will likely mean a final against Internacional of Brazil, who won their first Club World Cup title in 2006, beating Barcelona 1-0.
Benitez admitted: “For now, we have concentrated on Internacional. I myself watched them play one match and I thought they were fast and technically strong.
“Before the competition starts, we’ll also take a closer look at our other rivals, because although we’re aware of our strengths, we respect the brand of football played on every continent.”
Inter’s star midfielder Wesley Sneijder, 26, hopes victory in the event in the United Arab Emirates will cap a memorable year.
Sneijder lifted the Serie A, Coppa Italia and Italian Super Cup titles and the Champions League and got to the World Cup Final with Holland, before losing to Spain.
He said: “If all goes well, I could finish up with my winning five trophies for Inter and earning a World Cup runners-up spot. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.
“Playing in the Club World Cup is our reward for that extraordinary victory in Europe and it will be great to test ourselves against the best clubs in each continent.
“It’s not important who we meet - the lads and I are focused on making a go of it and lifting the trophy.
“The overriding sensation is just a desire to win.”