Chelsea have so far played three preseason matches against rather unfamiliar opponents in Bohemian FC, St. Patrick's Athletic and Kawasaki Frontale. That is now set to change as our next match is against Barcelona, a rather familiar foe.
Since 2005, we have played Barcelona no fewer than 13 times, only one of which, the preseason friendly four years ago, wasn’t a competitive Champions League outing. Those dozens games have seen some extreme highs (Ramires at the Camp Nou or Duff at the Bridge, for example) and some extreme lows (Iniesta at the Bridge, for example), but they’ve all been tightly contested despite Barcelona often being the clear favorites.
One player who was a present for most of those outings is now the man in charge of the team. Earlier today, he was joined by fellow Blues heroes Petr Čech, Ashley Cole, and Juliano Belletti (who experienced those games from both sides), as well as Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde at a promotional event in Tokyo, to talk briefly about the shared history and say the usual nice things about sponsors and welcomes one tends to say at such events.
"Barcelona are a team that I have some great memories of playing against, some good and some bad. I have always had a huge respect for them because when you play against Barcelona you know you are playing against, they say, more than a club, and I agree with that. We are very proud to be here to play this match.
"Everybody has been very friendly, very respectful and we really appreciate that. When we come to Japan, the welcome we get is unforgettable."
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
Bruce Buck added to those sentiments, specifically acknowledging Ramires’ goal in 2012, one of the greatest goals in Chelsea and world football history.
"We have enjoyed our visit here and the facilities have all been great. Our history in playing Barcelona has been long and colourful. Barcelona won more than we did but football is like life and you remember the victories more than you remember the defeats. At the Nou Camp in 2012, we had one of our greatest victories and one of our greatest goals from Ramires.”
-Bruce Buck; Source: Chelsea FC
Chelsea will be returning back to England after the match, which is set to take place on Tuesday, at 7:30pm local time (11:30am BST; 6:30am EDT). It will be Barcelona’s first preseason match and Chelsea’s fourth, but it will be a good opportunity nonetheless to keep building fitness and quality for the season ahead.
It's always good to face quality opposition like Barcelona in preseason, though would be even better if we faced them in the Champions League — both teams will be in Pot 1 for the group stage draw, so facing them would mean that we will have made it to at least the first knockout round.