Olimpija Ljubljana vs. Chelsea: Pre-Season Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction

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Olimpija Ljubljana vs. Chelsea: Pre-Season Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Chelsea continued preseason preparations with a comeback win 2-1 over NK Olimpija Ljubljana on Sunday at the Stozice Stadium in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Nik Kapun gave Olimpija the lead five minutes before half-time, but Diego Costa equalised in the 56th minute with his first Chelsea goal. Kurt Zouma completed the comeback eight minutes later with a close-range finish.

Sunday's match was the second stop on Chelsea's preseason European tour following Wednesday's 1-1 with RZ Pellets. The Blues will play at Vitesse Arnhem this Wednesday before concluding their tour at Werder Bremen next Sunday.

Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

The build-up in Slovenia allowed Chelsea supporters the chance to see two club icons reunited, returning striker Didier Drogba appearing with manager Jose Mourinho in the tunnel following his free transfer from Turkish club Galatasaray last week.

The pair combined to help Chelsea win Premier League titles in 2004-05 and 2005-06, and although the 36-year-old Drogba is not the force he once was, his return will certainly serve as a source of optimism for the club's supporters in the upcoming season.

So, too, will the summer arrivals of Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Luis, as well as the return of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois from an extended loan spell with Atletico Madrid. As B/R UK columnist Janusz Michallik has noted, the additions might make Chelsea—who finished third in the Premier League last season—favourites for the English title:

If you viewed last season's Chelsea as very good, what the Blues are doing this offseason is frightening. Having already bought Filipe Luis, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas—and with the transfer window far from over yet—one look at the squad tells you that Chelsea are already equipped to deal with any and all competitions, while having flexibility to play just about any system home and away in the Premier League as well as any style of play when it comes to Europe.

Chelsea begin their Premier League campaign Aug. 18 at promoted side Burnley before hosting 2013-14 Championship winners Leicester City five days later. The Blues last won the Premier League in 2009-10.

Against Olimpija, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho selected a starting XI that mixed youth with experience, drafting in defensive stalwarts Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta behind youngsters Jeremie Boga and Isaiah Brown in the midfield. New signings Costa, Luis and Fabregas also started.

The hosts went ahead in the 40th minute through Nik Kapun following a giveaway by Brown, whose pass intended for Boga was intercepted by Filip Valencic. Taking advantage of the miscue, Valencic passed to Kapun, who beat Matej Delac for the opening goal.

Chelsea drew level in the 56th minute via Costa, who ran onto a pass from Fabregas before driving through a pair of defenders and finishing sweetly for his first Chelsea goal.

The Blues completed the turnaround eight minutes later, taking the lead through Zouma. Fernando Torres, a half-time substitute, forced Aleksander Seliga to save after Olimpija failed to clear a Chelsea corner. But the rebound fell to Zouma, who headed in from close range to make it 2-1.

Two minutes later, Chelsea thought they had scored a third via Branislav Ivanovic, but the referee controversially ruled out the goal, apparently for a foul on Seliga.

Chelsea were in control by then, however, and only a pair of misses from Torres and Patrick Bamford kept the Blues from increasing their size of their victory late in the match.

 

 

Grades

Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Diego Costa, Chelsea: A

Costa scored his first Chelsea goal with an excellent finish. In addition, the former Atletico Madrid man led the attack well, bullying Olimpija's defenders with powerful running and dangerous passing in the final third.

Greater challenges await, of course, but Costa will certainly be pleased to score his first goal with his new club.

 

Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Chelsea overall: B+

The win was nice, if expected, and the second-half performance was especially welcome after Chelsea went into half-time losing by a goal. The Blues could have scored more than twice, but Ivanovic had a goal ruled out, Torres fluffed a clear chance in the 77th minute and Bamford missed another in the closing moments.

Less impressive, however, was the manner in which Chelsea fell behind in the first half. That said, this was only a preseason match, and the miscue came from a young player, rather than a first-team regular.

Overall, Chelsea and Mourinho will view Sunday's win as a positive step ahead of what promises to be a grueling season.

 

Post-Match Reaction

 

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