Chelsea travel to Germany for the final leg of their European training tour hoping to maintain their unbeaten run against Werder Bremen. Jose Mourinho has made the best of the staggered arrival of his star players by giving some of the youngsters the chance to shine, going so far as to start 21-year-old Matej Delac in goal against NK Olimpija Ljubljana.
However, with the Belgians having joined up with the squad on Wednesday, another promising young Chelsea goalkeeper should make his debut on Sunday.
Mourinho is hopeful that Thibaut Courtois will play at least 45 minutes against Werder Bremen, after enhancing his already impressive reputation at the World Cup. The 22-year-old already has four major winner’s medals from his time at Atletico Madrid and is excited about the prospect of adding to that collection with Chelsea:
At Atletico we were a team growing and growing and growing. I think Chelsea are similar. We have lots of young players and new players that want to develop themselves to become even better players and to win trophies with this club. I think that is possible.
Chelsea as a club always has the ambition to win as many trophies as possible. Chelsea has a team to be champions in England, to win cups and also to play in the final of the Champions League and win it again. Obviously there are a lot of good teams both in the Premier League and the Champions League, but I think we should be able to go very far in every competition.
Having played the full 90 minutes against RZ Pellets as he continues his recovery from injury, Petr Cech could replace him at half-time, beginning the battle for the No. 1 shirt.
Felipe Luis should start at left-back, with Cesar Azpilicueta replacing him at half-time. As the Blues will be facing their toughest opponents so far this pre-season, John Terry and Gary Cahill should be reunited at centre-half. As they are likely to be the first-choice pairing next season, this will offer the best opportunity to assess Courtois in goal. Branislav Ivanovic will complete the back four.
The central midfield pairing of Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas was impressive against NK Olimpija Ljubljana. However, Fabregas was even more efficient in the No. 10 role against Vitesse Arnhem as he scored his first Chelsea goal. He should start there against Werder Bremen, with Marco Van Ginkel partnering Matic.
Van Ginkel had a tough start to his Chelsea career. After a handful of promising performances, he suffered a nasty knee injury that side-lined him for the remainder of the season. However, he was positive about his recovery before the Vitesse game, saying:
I’m feeling good, the knee is okay. I had a holiday for four weeks and during this time I did some extra stuff for it. I have no problems now and after every game I’m feeling better. Playing minutes on the pitch is the most important thing for pre-season so everybody, including myself, is getting fitter.
Although Eden Hazard only rejoined the squad on Wednesday he has already being impressing in training. If he is as fit and fresh as the reports say, there is no reason why he wouldn’t find himself straight back in the starting XI. Mohamed Salah should complete the attacking trio on the right.
Didier Drogba also arrived at the training camp this week, and it is likely he will make an appearance against Werder Bremen. However, new signing Diego Costa should start after scoring one goal and assisting a further three in the two games he has played so far.
This is as close to his first-choice XI as Mourinho can get without Andre Schurrle, Oscar, Ramires and Willian. Werder Bremen are undoubtedly the toughest opponents the Blues will face this pre-season and the Special One will want to test the best players he has available against them.
All news and quotes sourced from the official Chelsea website.