Chelsea FC: Mission to Moscow

Sergei MiledinAnalyst IJuly 31, 2008

After crushing their three opponents in their Asian tour with a score of 13-0, Chelsea shift their focus on the Russian Railways Cup in Moscow. The last time the blues were in the Russian capital was when they faced Premier League rival Manchester United in the Champions League Final.

Of course, we all know what transpired on that rainy night at the Luzhniki as most Chelsea fans have already tried to erase that horrible finish from their memories. However, that was then and this is now.

Chelsea return to the city where they saw their chances of clinching their first European Championship trophy fall with John Terry with some new faces.

Avram Grant is long gone and in his place is Luiz Felipe Scolari whose side has looked quite impressive against their Asian opposition. With him, he also brings fresh signings in Deco and José Bosingwa who in their short appearances have shown much promise in the tune-ups.

The mini tournament will not be played at the Luzhniki but rather 15 miles northeast at the Lokomotiv Stadium.

The opposition this time around is slightly on a higher level then their Asian counterparts. This year’s instalment features hosts Lokomotiv Moscow, Sevilla, and AC Milan. Milan is making their second cup appearance after settling for third in last year’s competition.

For those unfamiliar with the Russian Railways Cup, it is still in its infancy as this year marks only the second time the tournament has taken place. It is sponsored by you guessed it the Russian Railways who find it necessary to neglect the country's poor railways system in favor of splurging money on top European football clubs to play in a preseason tournament in front of a half empty stadium.

Last year the likes of PSV Eindhoven, AC Milan, and Real Madrid failed to bring in many fans most likely due to the fact, Moscow has five other major clubs that the locals care more about. However, the Russian hierarchy doesn’t take too kindly to failure and will splurge more millions in the hope of drawing fans yet again.  

Chelsea square off against Lokomotiv Moscow on Friday and the winner will face the winner of Sevilla and AC Milan on Sunday. Chelsea is almost a sure thing against Lokomotiv seeing how the hosts blew a 2-0 lead against Madrid last year and went on to lose 5-2.

Not to mention giving up a 3-1 lead to Milan in the last 10 minutes to eventually lose in penalties. What is great about this so-called preseason tournament is that the hosts are in mid season form as the Russian Primer League is almost at the half waypoint.

Lokomotiv are currently in fifth, are slowly finding their stride, and will easily be the most seasoned opponents the west Londoners have faced all summer.

Chelsea's Branislav Ivanović who signed with the team in January could see serious action against his former side on Friday. Striker Andriy Shevchenko too can see action, as he is very popular among Russian fans having played for Dynamo Kyiv some years ago.

Hopefully for the blues this trip to Moscow will be a more pleasant and successful one but we can rest assured we wont see any water works from the players if they don’t hoist the glass railways trophy when all is said and done.