Chelsea have travelled to Austria to begin their pre-season tour of Europe, which will start with a match against RZ Pellets. The 26-man squad includes the three new signings Filipe Luis, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, while Gary Cahill, Fernando Torres and Cesar Azpilicueta have also returned.
Petr Cech has travelled with the squad as he continues his recovery from a shoulder injury. Assistant coach Steve Holland has said that Cech is ahead of his schedule and should be ready to join in full training very soon. Mark Schwarzer will continue to deputise in goal until the Czech is ready.
Although Luis has been brought in as a direct replacement for Ashley Cole at left-back, Nathan Ake is likely to start the game on Wednesday. The new signings and World Cup players will have only had two days to train before this match, making it unlikely that they will play any major part (although a cameo from the bench is a distinct possibility).
John Terry is likely to line up alongside Kurt Zouma for the first half at least but could be replaced by Cahill for the closing stages of the match. Branislav Ivanovic will start at right-back, and Azpilicueta will be available from the bench.
Nemanja Matic has made the holding midfield role his own and should start in Austria. Marco van Ginkel will play the first 45 minutes at least before making way for Fabregas to make his Chelsea debut. Oriol Romeu has recently signed a contract extension and will replace Matic in the second half.
The youngsters who appeared in the warm-up matches against Wimbledon and Wycombe were impressive, with Lewis Baker and Isaiah Brown standing out in particular. The pair are likely to start on Wednesday, flanked by the more experienced Mohamed Salah. There was some uncertainty over whether Salah would have to return to Egypt for military service after some issues with his visa, but according to The Daily Telegraph, he has been relieved of his duty to his country by the president.
Chelsea supporters hoping for their first glimpse of Costa up front may have to satisfy themselves with a cameo appearance. The Spaniard will have only had two days training and will be joined on the bench by Torres, leaving Patrick Bamford to lead the line through the first half at least.
Steve Holland spoke about Bamford’s chances of making the 2014-15 squad after the Wimbledon game, telling the official Chelsea website the following:
We watched Patrick closely last year and he had a good spell at MK Dons and then played at Derby where the level was a step up. He played mostly on the wing which probably suited Derby but probably didn’t really suit him, we see him more as a central striker, but he scored goals.
He got a goal on Wednesday night so we know he can score goals. What we will be looking at in the next few weeks is whether he can adapt other areas of his game and how he combines with top-level midfielders to see if he can make the step not just into the Premier League but into a Champions League team as well.
We will have to wait until the likes of Eden Hazard, Andre Schurrle and Oscar return from their holidays to get a full assessment of Bamford’s ability to work with an elite midfield. However, if he carries on the form he has shown thus far, Costa and Torres might not get a look in against RZ Pellets.
The opposition may not be the household name that Chelsea have become accustomed to competing against in pre-season, but RZ Pellets will bring their own challenges to the game. Jose Mourinho must now try to balance the need for fitness from his first-choice players while ensuring that the youngsters are still given a fair chance.
All news taken from ChelseaFC.com unless otherwise stated.
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