With just two months left of the 2018-19 season, Chelsea’s post-season/pre-season schedule is starting to take shape. The Blues now have two games confirmed for the summer, including the charity friendly against New England Revolution on the Wednesday after the final matchday of the Premier League season.
Today, the first true pre-season match has been confirmed as well, though the trip itself was announced back in November already. On July 19, Chelsea will play Kawasaki Frontale, the reigning (and back-to-back) J.League champions, in a friendly at the nearby International Stadium in Yokohama, site of the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup final, which we lost to Corinthians — that was the last time Chelsea were in Japan.
This friendly will officially be called the MEIJI YASUDA J.LEAGUE WORLD CHALLENGE 2019, which apparently has to be ALL CAPS ALL THE TIME. Get hyped, or something.
The Blues will return to Japan this summer to take on the J.League champions!— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 20, 2019
Obviously this is all tied in very closely with shirt sponsors Yokohama “Tyres” as well.
“We are very pleased to be able to confirm the details of this first match we have announced in our pre-season schedule, with more dates to come in the forthcoming weeks. It is going to be an exciting summer for the club and we are looking forward to working closely with our valued partners at The Yokohama Rubber Company to make this a visit to remember.
“We are delighted to be returning to Japan after almost seven years and we also thank the J.League for their cooperation in organising the game. We are sure Kawasaki Frontale will provide high-level opposition at a noisy and passionate International Stadium as we prepare for the season ahead.”
-Bruce Buck; source: Chelsea FC
The Japanese leagues run on spring-fall schedule, so Kawasaki will be about halfway through their season and should certainly provide at least a match fitness challenge to the team, much like whenever European teams play MLS opposition in the United States.
As to who all will travel (Eden Hazard features prominently in the promo video ... but you know...), and who will be charge by mid-July, that remains to be seen.