Chelsea’s fourth and final preseason match of the summer sees us take on Udinese for a bit of light entertainment on a Friday night in Udine. The Friday Night Lights, if you will, though hopefully without a silly season-two murder sideplot.
While the decision to hold yet another friendly away from Stamford Bridge is questionable, this one at least isn’t half a world away nor is it part of a grueling two-week tour in triple-digit temperatures. So hopefully we can put in the right amount of effort and commitment and enter the season proper on a good note.
It’s still just preseason and if we’re going to be absolute pants, now is the time to do so, but it would be nice to see improvement of some kind.
Date / Time: Friday, July 29, 2022, 20.00 BST; 3pm EDT; 12:30am IST (next day)
Venue: Stadio Friuli, Udine, Italy
Forecast: Hot with a chance of thunderstorms
Udinese team news: Udinese finished 12th last season, matching their highest finish for the last nine years. Gone are the heady days of regular participation in European competitions!
New head coach Andrea Sottil took over last month in his first top-flight appointment, and will have a tough task in trying to improve their fortunes — especially after the departure of one of their best players, Argentina international Nahuel Molina, to Atlético Madrid earlier this week.
This is Udinese’s seventh (7th!) preseason friendly, they’ve won three of the previous six. Their season starts the week after ours, so they might yet squeeze in a couple more (not counting the second friendly against Chelsea’s second string, behind closed doors on Saturday).
Chelsea team news: As revealed by Thomas Tuchel, we will be taking everyone we can possibly fit on the plane to play not one but two games against Udinese, though only the first of those will be televised and will thus presumably involve the first-choice players.
Since returning from the tour, we’ve welcomed back N’Golo Kanté and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who had missed the trip due to not meeting entry requirements for vaccination into the USA, as well as Armando Broja, who has recovered from his foot injury.
Many players are looking to leave and Chelsea seem far from done in the transfer market, but these are the players we’ll have to rely on at least at the very start of the season. Let’s see them step up today!
Previously: Chelsea have never played Udinese in a competitive match, but we did meet in the 2001-02 preseason, with Ranieri’s Blues settling for a 1-1 draw. The match was notable for being one the first ever involving Frank Lampard, and also for Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink getting a red card for a clash with the aforementioned Andrea Sottil.