Football is back! It feels like it barely left, thanks to a surprisingly fun and rather entertaining World Cup, but now it’s back in all its blue-shirted glory.
As exciting as that may be, even if it’s just a pre-season friendly, there’s added intrigue to this match as it will be the first time we see Chelsea under the guidance of Maurizio Sarri. If all the words and hype and the glimpses of pre-season training are any indication, we’ll be seeing a rather different emphasis from the team, unpracticed in the art of Sarrismo as they may yet be.
That aside, Chelsea’s trip to Perth, our second visit to Australia in four summers following a four-decade-long drought is a chance for local fans to see (some) of their heroes in person, and grow the club’s marketing pie a bit as well. A win-win all-around.
Date / Time: Monday, July 23, 2018, 19:30 local time (12:30 BST; 7:30am EDT)
Venue: Optus Stadium, Perth, Australia — a brand new 60,000-seat multi-purpose stadium that opened in January; this will be the first ever football match held there.
Forecast: It’s the middle of winter in Australia, which means cooler temperatures and probably a drizzle or two as well. No torrential downpour is expected, unlike the other day at training.
On TV: SBS (Australia); Chelsea TV (UK); elsewhere
Streaming online: SBS Live (Australia); Chelsea TV (int’l)
Perth Glory team news: A founding member of Australia’s A-League, Perth Glory are coming off the second worst season in the club’s 22-year existence. Unsurprisingly, they, too thus have a new coach (former Crystal Palace defender Tony Popović). This will be their third pre-season match, after back-to-back clean sheets against lower league opposition.
Perth’s star man is supposed to be veteran Spanish winger Diego Castro, who collected over 200 La Liga appearances before switching to the A-League in 2015. He’s joined by former Leeds youngster Andy Keogh as decent sources of goal, while another veteran, Xavi Torres, once of Guardiola’s Barcelona, may also be a familiar name (but that may have nothing to actually do with him). And one of the club’s newest signings is Fábio Ferreira, who was a Chelsea trainee for four years. He’s been playing in Australia since 2012.
Chelsea team news: A 25-man squad traveled — Zouma the most surprising absentee, apparently through injury — and Sarri is expected to start with mostly first-team players in what’s likely to be some version of his 4-3-3 that he used in Napoli. New big-money signing Jorginho is expected to anchor the midfield with Ross Barkley possibly set for a key role in that sector as well. Starts for Charly Musonda Jr, Ethan Ampadu, and goalkeeper Brad Collins (with neither Courtois nor Caballero back from post-World Cup vacation yet) are also expected.
Chelsea will fly back to London immediately following the game to continue pre-season training. Warm-up friendly number two will be next weekend, July 28 in Nice, against Inter Milan.
Previously: It’s a new day, a new season, a new coach. New hope! Time to look forward to bigger and better things.