It’s been a long time since any Chelsea fan has been this excited about a pre-season friendly, but the Blues’ clash with WAC RZ Pellets on Wednesday has got pulses racing.
With new signings Cesc Fabregas, Filipe Luis and Diego Costa all set to make their debuts in Klagenfurt am Worthersee, the Chelsea faithful are keen to see exactly what they can bring to the table with optimism for the upcoming Premier League campaign at an all-time high.
Here, we look ahead to Wednesday’s match and assess which stars could be lining up for the Blues in their first match on tour.
Venue: Worthersee Stadion, Klagenfurt am Worthersee
Date: Wednesday, July 23
Time: 6:30 p.m. BST/1:30 p.m. ET
TV Info: Chelsea TV (U.K. only, subscription required)
Live Stream:Chelsea TV Live (U.K. only, subscription required)
Pre-Season Tour Begins for Chelsea
Though Chelsea are two matches, and victories, down in their pre-season campaign, the real preparation for the Premier League begins now, with their European tour kicking off in Austria.
Jose Mourinho will continue his policy of fielding youth, though there’ll likely be cameo roles for the Portuguese manager’s new recruits from the substitutes’ bench.
Exciting youngster, Patrick Bamford, will be leading the line once again, as he looks to make the Blues’ 2014/15 squad and push for a place in the starting XI next term.
Though the 20-year-old still has plenty to learn before competing among the elite, the way that he performed with Derby County last term will give Chelsea fans lots of reasons for optimism—as will his pre-season performances.
The young Englishman will likely give way to Costa against RZ Pellets, though his real aspirations are lining up alongside the Spaniard when the domestic season gets underway.
Assistant first-team coach Steve Holland opened up about Bamford’s chances of making the squad for the upcoming campaign, reflecting on just how talented he is—per the club’s official website:
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.
For all Bamford’s brilliance up front, the Blues’ top scorer of pre-season so far is captain John Terry, who’s chalked up three goals in two games—as Metro alluded to via Twitter:
The former England captain could start alongside Kurt Zouma in Austria, with Gary Cahill in line for his first appearance of pre-season from the bench.
Though Mourinho will once again use Wednesday’s game to put his young stars to the test, he’ll be keen to make sure they emerge with the right result.
The Austrians will put up a strong, physical battle against the Blues, but their class will shine through and it could be another fruitful day at the office for Chelsea’s young stars.
Prediction: RZ Pellets 0-4 Chelsea