Chelsea return to the scene of the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup crime, when a 1-0 shock defeat gave the trophy to Corinthians and broke wee little Oscar’s heart. The stakes will be quite a bit lower this time around, with only a preseason friendly and associated marketing exercise on tap.
Technically called the “J.League World Challenge”, the Blues will take on defending J1 League champions Kawasaki Frontale and look to continue gaining fitness and convince the new boss of their qualities. We should also see the preseason debut of one Christian Pulisic and possibly N’Golo Kanté as well, though there’s no rush in either case.
Date / Time: Friday, July 19, 2019, 7pm local time, 11:00 BST; 6am EDT; 3:30pm IST
Venue: Nissan Stadium, Yokohama, Japan
Forecast: Warm, humid, overcast, sweaty
Due to international rights, Chelsea TV (£1.99 on the app; £10.99 on the website for the whole preseason — not prorated; free for last year’s subscribers) will only be available to customers in the UK & Ireland, and the select few countries not covered by other providers.
In the US, you’ll have to spring for DAZN USA ($19.99/month, $99.99 for the year; no free trial these days unfortunately). This is a steeeeep steep steep price to pay for one friendly (the Barcelona game will be on ESPN2) and DAZN really doesn’t have much else in the US beyond fighting and boxing.
Kawasaki Frontale team news: Frontale have actually won the J1 League the last two years, but are currently only sitting third, albeit just four points off behind leader FC Tokyo and with a game in hand. As with the first two opponents faced this preseason, they are in the middle of their club season and should be in top shape.
Their biggest star is probably one time Brazilian international Leandro Damião, who was linked with Spurs for a long long long time before signing with the Japanese champions at the start of the season.
This is probably a much bigger deal for them and the league than for us (much like the MLS All-Star game, it’s seen as an exhibition to show how good Japanese football is), which is partly why it’s played at the International Stadium rather than Frontale’s own, much smaller home ground. In any case here’s a hype video for their team.
Chelsea team news: Chelsea brought 25 players on tour, though a couple of them may not be available. N’Golo Kanté has just returned to full training this week after finishing his recovery from a knee problem he suffered at the end of last season. Meanwhile, Tammy Abraham missed yesterday’s training as he was feeling unwell. It’s unclear exactly what his ailment was, but it could conceivably keep him out from the friendly as well.
Lampard has played exactly 22 players in each of the two preseason games so far, making a full change at half-time, and I’d guess it’s pretty likely that he will stick to that plan for now. Either way, we should be seeing the first preseason action for Kepa Arrizabalaga and hopefully Christian Pulisic as well.
Don’t worry, we get a cool hype video as well. RAWR!