Blues begin their ‘Far East’ stage of pre-season with their third game of seven of the campaign tomorrow
With the Irish portion of the pre-season campaign now over, Chelsea heads off to the ‘Far East’ for their Japanese tour, which begins tomorrow against Kawasaki Frontale.
WHO ARE KAWASAKI FRONTALE?
Kawasaki Frontale – nicknamed Les Dauphins – was founded back in 1955, as Fujitsu Soccer Club, before renamed as Kawasaki Frontale in 1997.
Frontale plays in the J1 League, where they are the current champions, having won the title in both 2017 and 2018 (the only occasions have done so as well). Kawasaki also won the Japanese Super Cup for the first time this year.
Their Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium was opened in 1962 and reconstructed in 2015, having a capacity of 26, 232.
For tomorrow’s game however, Chelsea will be playing at the Nissan Stadium (also known as the Yokohama International Stadium), with the stadium having a capacity of just over 72,000.
Chelsea knows the stadium very well as they have played there twice before at the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup – beating Mexican side Monterrey in the Semi-Final, before losing the Final to Brazilian side Corinthians.
Kawasaki currently are halfway through their current J1 League campaign and sit third in the table, four points behind FC Tokyo with a game in hand.
The main threat from Kawasaki Frontale is their captain and legendary striker Yu Kobayashi, who has been at the club since 2010, scoring 116 goals in 297 appearances.
The current manager is Toru Oniki, who is in his third season managing the club. Oniki is also a former Frontale player, having played for the club for six years (2000-06).
Tomorrow’s game will the first time the two sides have met.
Since the 4-0 win over St. Patrick’s Athletic at the weekend, the squad has been trimmed down once again, from 27 to 24 (although with Christian Pulisic joining the squad on Monday, that number has now gone back up to 25).
Ethan Ampadu, Billy Gilmour and Ian Maatsen have left the squad, with Amapdu expected to go out on loan and both Gilmour/Maatsen returning to Cobham.
Despite those three players leaving, this still leaves Lampard plenty of options to choose from.
There’s a good chance that Frank Lampard will once again use two teams as he continues the fitness of all players that have travelled out to Japan. No doubt a strong eleven – consisting of mainly first-team regulars – will start the match, with rotation happening in the second-half.
Someone that could feature who hasn’t already this pre-season is N’Golo Kanté, who has been training separately as the club monitors his knee injury. Despite this, the Frenchman is expected to play some part in tomorrow’s game.
Lampard will probably once again rotate the formations he uses, with both 4-3-3 and the surprisingly effective ‘Diamond 4-4-2’ the likely formations to be used.
Finally, Christian Pulisic will make his (non-competitive) debut for the Blues tomorrow after the American cut short his holiday after playing for the United States of America in the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup.
In regards to Pulisic especially, one question is on the lips of every fan…
What number will he have on the back of his shirt? We’ll find out tomorrow.
HOW TO WATCH
For international fans, expect the game to be shown on either DAZN or Rakuten Sports, dependant on where you live/have access to.
Let’s hope for a win, a good performance and no injuries from tomorrow’s game.