Mateo Kovacic acknowledges Chelsea came through a difficult challenge in beating Al Hilal in the Club World Cup semi-final, but he never expected it to be easy anyway.
The Croatian midfielder was named the man of the match by a FIFA technical group that includes former England manager Steve McClaren and after that decision looked back on the 90 minutes against the Asia champions in Abu Dhabi, and ahead to facing Palmeires of Brazil on Saturday.
‘It was a difficult game, it was not easy to adapt because they are a good team and we struggled a little bit and we had a little bit the lost balls,’ said Kovacic. ‘We could have scored a second goal early and this is our biggest problem, we don't close the games when we have the opportunity and then you get in trouble. You're just 1-0 up and the opposition has nothing to lose, they go all in so it is a difficult game.
‘In the end we're happy we are through to another final which is not easy because to reach the final of the Club World Cup, you need to win the Champions League and you need to win the semi-final.
‘We need to do on Saturday again a good job because Palmeiras is a great team with very good players, they are aggressive, with amazing fans so it will be a difficult game but we need first to rest and then we will be prepared.’
Kovacic confirmed part of that preparation will be to tap into the knowledge of our players whose roots are in Brazilian football.
‘We have now two days to prepare and for sure we will ask advice of Jorginho, Thiago and Kenedy because they know them better than we know them but we know that this will be a tough game. It's a final and finals are always difficult games.
‘Thiago is one of the greatest defenders of his generation.' he added. 'He has won almost everything and he brought so much experience to Chelsea. We are glad and happy to have such a great player and great personality in our dressing room.
‘We know what it takes to come to such a big tournament because you need to win the Champions League, so we need to appreciate this moment and to not take it for granted.
‘We are desperate to win this trophy. We could be the first team in Chelsea history to bring this trophy to London so we are happy that we are in such a big final and we will do everything to win it on Saturday.’