In 2015, José Mourinho introduced the phrase “fake games” on the heels of a 4-2 loss to the reserves side of MLS outfit New York Red Bulls. It’s just preseason, an arbitrarily shortened one at that, we all agreed, as Chelsea would go on to would flirt with the relegation zone, sack the manager, and finish a still hard-to-believe 10th in the Premier League. And sure, it was just preseason. But as it turns out, it was not all fake or meaningless.
Conversely, Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Barcelona isn’t going to propel Chelsea to a Champions League title or an unbeaten Premier League season. Considering the strengthening that’s been happening across the league, we’ll be lucky (again) to finish top four (again). But it’s a result that’s not all fake. It does have some meaning. If nothing else, it’s a confidence boost and a validation of the first two weeks of hard work on the training ground.
“It is a great moment of pre-season. We are still improving, we are still going in the right way, and these two games [in Japan] gave us a lot of things that will help us.”
-David Luiz; source: Chelsea FC
Barcelona were not fully fit and were missing their best player. But they were still Barcelona and Chelsea had to show resilient and patient deep defending (check), efficiency in attack (mostly check), a bit of quality and bravery in possession (mostly check as well), and a willingness to play with the intensity preached by the new head coach (check check check).
At the very least, it’s something to build on as we enter the last couple weeks of preseason and begin to think about the season ahead that starts at Old Trafford on August 11.
“It’s a good win that gives us confidence.
“The first game is a massive one, a difficult one against United, but now it’s time to prepare with these pre-season games. It’s a great opportunity for us to show our potential and keep working with vision and with high intensity.”
-Pedro; source: Chelsea FC
It wasn’t perfect and that’s to be expected. It is just preseason. It’s not supposed to be perfect (yet). But it’s not all fake or meaningless. There’s plenty of work to be done. But we seem to be on the right track, and that’s just about all we can ask for at this point.