Chelsea’s penultimate fixture of preseason will be held in Austria, where the Blues will take on RB Salzburg on Wednesday night. Salzburg will also have one more friendly after this one, though they’ve already begun the real season as well, beating Rapid Vienna 2-0 over the weekend.
Unlike the weeklong training camps in Republic of Ireland and Japan, this will be just a brief visit for the Blues, and the same will be true for the final preseason friendly as well, on Saturday against Borussia Mönchengladbach.
The season is almost here! Things are about to get serious.
Date / Time: Wednesday, July 31, 2019, 19:00 BST; 2pm EDT; 11:30pm IST
Venue: Red Bull Arena, Salzburg, Austria
Forecast: Cool with a chance of thunder and lightning
On TV: none
Streaming online: Chelsea TV (UK/Ireland, int’l), ESPN+ (USA); elsewhere
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.
Salzburg team news: The Red Bulls of Red Bull are the defending champions of Austria, though it’s not clear if that’s due to Red Bull giving them wings or just giving them money. While the energy drink giants are now more focused on RB Leipzig (as well as a growing worldwide football empire), Salzburg have continued to enjoy dominance over the Austrian Bundesliga, having won 10 of the last 13 titles, including 6 in a row.
New head coach Jesse Marsch will be expected to continue that streak. The company man spent last season as an assistant at Leipzig following three years as head coach at New York Red Bulls, which included the infamous 4-2 preseason friendly win over Chelsea in 2015. (Tyler Adams, then just 16, now a first-team player at Leipzig with 10 caps for the USMNT, scored in that game.)
Salzburg have sold over €50m worth of talent this summer, including Stefan Lainer (now at Gladbach), Xavier Schlager (now at Wolfsburg), Hannes Wolf (now at Leipzig), and leading scorer Munas Dabour (now at Seville), but they retain the services of one Dominik Szoboszlai, who’s the next big hope for Hungarian football. That may not be saying much, but the 18-year-old midfielder with four senior international caps to his name already is the real deal, and was linked with the likes of Juventus, Arsenal, Ajax, and Bayern this summer.
Chelsea team news: Bringing the Carabao into this energy drink fight, Chelsea will be looking to show some improvement from the 4-3 friendly win over Reading, especially in terms of set piece defending, ball retention (no cheap giveaways), and more clinical finishing — three areas identified by Lampard as those in need of most concern and attention. Lampard has also flagged up these last two friendlies as the games where he will start to narrow down some of his options, in terms of both primary tactics and personnel.
We’ll also be hoping to get N’Golo Kanté or maybe even Willian back this week from their injuries, though others, like Antonio Rüdiger, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Reece James still have at least a month to go, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek is looking at an even longer timeline.
Previously: Goalfest in Reading