Wins on wins.
Chelsea remained perfect this preseason with a deserved 2-0 victory against AC Milan in the semifinals of the Guinness International Champions Cup on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The result means Chelsea will now face Real Madrid in the tournament's finale, set for Wednesday in Flo Rida. Yeah, that should be a spectacle of some sort.
As for Sunday's match, the Blues were good value for the win, producing a dynamic first half - highlighted by a wonderful move that resulted in a goal from Kevin De Bruyne - and following it up with a second half that featured an improved Milan and a lot of wayward work in the attacking third from Chelsea. However, and most importantly, it included a booming volley from Andre Schurrle - set up by the impressive Victor Moses - in the final stages.
The aforementioned opening goal was a beauty, with a blitzing Chelsea counter attack ravaging Milan on 30 minutes. Eden Hazard did much of the work, slaloming down the inside-left channel before squaring for De Bruyne on the right-center of the penalty area. With Demba Ba providing an incisive run across the box to free up space, De Bruyne had plenty of room to finish and finish he did, slicing a low drive just inside the left post to make it 1-0.
Chelsea continued to impress through the opening 45 minutes, while Milan offered little in the way of attacking impetus. When they did, Branislav Ivanovic and Petr Cech were in position to quell the threat.
Seven changes were made at halftime, and, as you would expect, the quality of play suffered as a result. That didn't stop Chelsea from producing some more fluid play, though - it was just that the final ball, or final shot, was severely lacking. Fernando Torres, who was industrious but still did Torres-like things at times, could have notched a brace if not for some selfish play by his amigos. Juan Mata, meanwhile, played some passes that made me scream like a girl. Then again, you expect that from the Spaniard.
Milan applied some late pressure, but Chelsea saw it out and finally found the second goal their overall play deserved. Schurrle's first for the club was a dynamite strike, the German directing a Moses cross into the right side of the goal with a booming volley. And that, as they say, was that.
Now, for some quick thoughts:
- Ivanovic had himself a fabulous first half. The Serbian was all over the place, prompting one WAGNH commenter to refer to him as a box-to-box defender. He very easily could have secure a brace inside the opening 20 minutes, with a free header flying wide and a cheeky back-heel forcing an excellent save out of Abbiati. And then there was his imperious work at the other end, which included a notable clearance just in front of goal. The bear.
- Tonight was another successful entry in the young Chelsea resume of Marco van Ginkel. The kid has a Premier League build and looks supremely composed in the pivot. He and Michael Essien have made a thin, problem position appear much more comfortable as we close in on the league season.
- De Bruyne is going to score his share of goals this season. How relieved are we that his injury in Asia wasn't serious?
- Hazard is going to be the most fouled player in the Premier League this season. I love this kid, and his close control is astonishing. I'm going all-in for him in my fantasy auction league. #value
- I'm loving Moses' desire to drive at defenders. He's still struggling with his decision making in the attacking third, but I expect that to improve daily under Jose. Tonight, Moses was a constant menace in the second half.
- I'll repeat this from Stephen's initial reaction to the win against Internazionale: "Chelsea with Oscar is far more fun to watch than Chelsea without Oscar."
- Hey Fox Soccer, what is Schurrle's last name again?
- Jose vs. Carlo. Chelsea vs. Real Madrid. You know, this championship is going to be very - very - interesting. See you Wednesday.