Azpilicueta: Benitez has given Chelsea more tactical rigour

The Blues defender has praised interim boss Rafael Benitez, stressing that he has helped the team improve tactically since the departure of Roberto Di Matteo
Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta believes that the club have benefited from Rafa Benitez's appointment as team manager, and admits he was disappointed with his start at Stamford Bridge under Roberto Di Matteo.

The 23-year-old moved from Olympique de Marseille in the summer, and has been a first-team player since Benitez took over at the west London club.

Despite a frustrating start to his Chelsea career, Azpilicueta has stressed that he is enjoying his time at the 2012 Champions League winners.

He told AS: "I signed with Chelsea thanks to the good harmony between them and Marseille. I knew how huge the challenge of signing with the European champions was going to be, but I had to be patient.

"I hardly played during my first two months, but after that, my chance finally arrived. I felt the coach's confidence in the last weeks of [Roberto] Di Matteo being here. He was quite happy with my job, but probably I was not the best option at that moment.

"There is a great mix at Chelsea, with some young players just starting their careers and other experienced ones. We're in a pure transition, not only of people's age, but also in our playing style. The main thing is unity and we all must have the same mentality.

"We know we are 25 players. We respect each other and that's how we try to get a place in the starting XI. I think every player has a selfish side, but luckily I have experienced both playing and not playing moments. If you don't play, you must try to encourage your team-mates and get a place.

"No one gave me the best piece of advice at Chelsea when I arrived, but I had many chats with Di Matteo's assistant and yes, that helped me a lot and made me improve."

"Rafa Benítez has given more tactical rigour to Chelsea. Until his arrival we were conceding lots of goals and we were not as solid as we should have been. Now we try to play like a team both in defence and in attack, and that's the most important thing.

"Our two objectives are to get into the Europa League final and to play in the Champions League next season."