Last year's home friendly against Real Sociedad was a big deal. It had been the first preseason friendly held at Stamford Bridge since 2006. There were pyrotechnics and plenty of pre-match hoopla. And Diego Costa scored just a few minutes into the game, setting himself and the team up for a fast start to the real season.
This year, we're once again ending preseason at home, but the circumstances are, shall we say, a fair bit more awkward. Last year we had basically a week to recover before the season opener, this year we have two days. Last year, excitement over new signings drove expectations to new heights; this year, the lack of summer activity has created a certain bit of unease. Last year, the only concern was just how badly Neil Barnett will mispronounce or mis-emphasize certain names during the player introductions.* This year, not only do we have a possible tube strike to contend with, but there's the whole Salah-drama hanging heavy in the air. Maybe for half-time entertainment we can have a cage match between each team's chosen hero to decide the winger's fate. If we win, we shoot him and the whole Fiorentina front office into the Sun.
Just kidding. We're probably use up all of our rockets for fireworks or some other mundane purpose.
* It sounds like we're going to do player introductions again this year, so you might as well show up early. Not only do you avoid the potential tube strike, you get to witness some pre-match festivities.
Date / Time: Wednesday, August 5, 2015, 20:00 BST; 3pm EDT;
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Forecast: Showers possible. Breezy. Oh England...
On TV: Sky Sports 1 (UK); Fox Sports 1, ESPN Deportes+ (USA); Star Sports 4 / HD 4 (India); elsewhere
Online: Sky Go (UK); Fox Sports 2Go; Watch ESPN (USA)
Chelsea team news: The one thing we know for sure is that Falcao will start. Rémy might as well. But with the season just around the corner, I'd expect the rest of the team to be comprised of second-choice players, backups, and maybe a few youngsters. John Terry seemed to drop a hint along similar lines a couple days ago as well. Maybe we'll see Kenedy, Traoré, and Loftus-Cheek in action? That could be fun.
Fiorentina team news: Fiorentina's season doesn't start for another two and a half weeks, so for them, it will be just another preseason match. This match is technically still part of the International Champions Cup; La Viola have been steadily improving since the 4-2 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in their first match.
The visitors' newest signing Davide Astori might make his debut in this one. The center back who spent last season at Roma, on loan from Cagliari — hey, could Roma passing on their option to buy be a part of a Salah resolution somehow? — will join fellow new arrivals Mario Suarez from Atletico and right back Gilberto from Botafogo. In addition to Salah's refusal to return, the major departures have been striker Mario Gomez and manager Vincenzo Montella. The new man in charge is former Swansea City boss Paulo Sousa.
View from the enemy: Viola Nation
Previously: Chelsea and Fiorentina have never faced each other in a competitive match. Or a friendly, as far as I can tell.