The Blues conclude their stay in the ‘Far East’ with their fourth game of seven of the campaign today
Chelsea will be saying ‘Sayonara’ to Japan as facing Barcelona later today marks the end of their stay in the ‘Far East’ portion of the club’s pre-season campaign.
WHO ARE BARCELONA?
Barcelona – nicknamed Barça – was founded back in 1899, as Foot-Ball Club Barcelona (FCB) and one of the biggest and most prestigious clubs in the world.
Barcelona plays in La Liga, where they are the current champions, having won the title on 26 separate occasions and the Copa del Rey 30 times. They also have won trophies in European and world competitions collectively on twenty occasions, including five UEFA Champions League titles and three FIFA Club World Cups.
Their Camp Nou Stadium was opened in 1957, having a capacity of just under 100,000.
For today’s game however, Chelsea will be playing at the Saitama Stadium, with the stadium having a capacity of 63,700.
Barcelona, just like Chelsea, are in pre-season and this will be their first game of the pre-season campaign.
The main threat from Barcelona is their captain and arguably the best player in the world right now in Lionel Messi. But as Messi will not be available for today’s game, expect their new £107m signing Antoine Griezmann to be Barcelona’s main man.
The current manager is Ernesto Valverde, who is in his third season managing the club. Valverde is also a former Barca player, having played for the club for three years (1988-1990).
Today’s game will the nineteenth encounter between the two sides, with the last match being the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, 2nd Leg match in March 2018, which Barcelona won 3-0 (4-1 overall on Agg).
Since the surprising 1-0 loss to Kawasaki Frontale last weekend, the squad has been trimmed down once again, from 27 to 26 as N’Golo Kanté has returned home to the club’s Cobham training complex in a hope to improve his fitness and be available for the opening weekend of the Premier League against Manchester United.
Kepa Arrizabalaga and Tammy Abraham also both missed last Friday’s game, but are expected to be available for today’s game, which still leaves Head Coach Frank Lampard with plenty of options to choose from.
There’s a good chance that Frank Lampard will stick to the 4-2-3-1 formation he has experimented with during the three games Chelsea has played so far this summer.
No doubt a strong eleven – consisting of mainly first-team regulars – will start the match, with rotation being to happen in the second-half.
Lampard will probably once again rotate the formations he uses, with either 4-3-3 or the surprisingly effective ‘Diamond 4-4-2’ likely to be used at some stage during the game.
Finally, Christian Pulisic is expected to make his first (non-competitive) start 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.
HOW TO WATCH
You can watch today’s game as per usual the official website (£10.99 for the entire preseason on the website).
As for watching the game via ‘The 5th Stand App’, Chelsea have decided to raise the price to view the game from £1.99 to £3.99 (For fans in the UK & Ireland), which has not gone down well with Chelsea supporters.
For international fans, expect the game to be shown on either ESPN 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.