Chelsea and AC Milan are set to battle for a berth in the final of the International Champions Cup. It may still be preseason for both clubs, but it would be a surprise if the intensity doesn't go up now the trophy is within reach.
The Blues reached the semifinals by knocking out Inter Milan. As will be the case throughout the upcoming campaign, Chelsea was able to control the match in the midfield. Expect the game plan to remain the same against another Serie A side.
Milan are coming off a victory over Valencia in the opening round. The club went on to play in the Audi Cup before traveling to the United States to finish the ICC. It illustrates the hectic schedules squads face to prepare for a new season.
Let's take a glance at the important information for the clash, followed by a preview and a prediction for which club will reach the final.
Where: MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
When: Sunday, Aug. 4 at 6:30 p.m. ET (11:30 p.m. BT)
Watch: Fox Soccer Channel
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go
Chelsea is enjoying an impressive preseason. The win over Inter was the latest example of the club's potential as the Blues grabbed a 2-0 lead within the first half-hour and cruised to the final line without any hints of a comeback.
Oscar delivered a picture-perfect strike to give Chelsea the lead and Eden Hazard converted from the penalty spot. From there, Chelsea simply remained strong at the back, like a club ready to make a run toward the Premier League title.
The main reason for preseason optimism is the continued development of the Blues' midfield. Oscar and Hazard represent two of the talented pieces Jose Mourinho has at his disposal to help control possession and the pace of the match.
Add in a veteran defense led by John Terry, and further additions to the strikeforce, and expectations at Stamford Bridge are rightfully on the rise. But first the club must remain focused on finishing the preseason strong to provide some momentum heading into the new campaign.
Expect Chelsea to set a similar quick pace in the early stages of the semifinal. Milan's back line was shaky at times against Valencia, and the Blues will want to capitalize on that before halftime.
AC Milan was the only club forced to play a true road match in the opening round. They traveled to Spain to take on Valencia, and despite some tense moments during the second half, were able to survive and advance in the tournament.
Robinho and Nigel de Jong provided the offense while the back line did well to keep most of Valencia's scoring opportunities to the outside. It was far from a convincing performance, but a preseason win on the road against solid opponents is a sign of progress.
The challenge gets tougher against Chelsea. Although the Rossoneri beat Valencia, they lost the possession battle by a large margin. That doesn't bode well going into a match against a Blues side with so much talent in the midfield.
Milan will need another strong defensive effort and hope it leads to some counterattacking opportunities where they can take advantage of an aggressive Blues attack. It puts the onus on stars like Stephan El Shaarawy to convert on the chances they do get.
It should prove a good measuring-stick for both clubs. Chelsea should hold the slight edge given their form so far in the preseason.
Prediction: Chelsea 2, Milan 1