Tougher opposition than expected.
Chelsea lost to Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 in Yokohama on Friday as the players came up against a tough team under tougher conditions. Kante, Kepa, and Abraham did not feature during the game because they were suffering from various illnesses while everyone else featured over two halves.
The starting lineup consisted of Caballero in goal, Alonso, Zouma, David Luiz, and Azpi making up the defence, Kovacic and Jorginho in a midfield two, and Kennedy, Mount, and Pedro behind Michy. It took Chelsea some time to get used to the tempo of the game as Kawasaki who were playing in between their 18th and 19th games of the season were the fitter of the two teams and more used to the climate. Kawasaki also happen to be the J League champions of the last two seasons and are currently on an 18 game unbeaten run so that also should be taken into account. Anyways Chelsea grew into the first half and while there were no goals the team came very close via the likes of Kennedy and Mount to getting a lead. In the first half Kennedy and Mount particularly impressed while Jorginho was ever present and the pivot.
The second half saw Zappacosta, Christensen, Emerson, Barkley, and Giroud come in for Azpi, Zouma, Alonso, Pedro, and Michy. Drinkwater followed in the 56th minute for Jorginho along with Bakayoko who came in for Kovacic. Pulisic and Palmer then replaced Mount and Kennedy. The second half was played at a slightly better tempo than the first half and Pulisic particularly impressed once he came on. Pulisic was drifting in the forward positions getting the ball and moving it on while also dribbling and taking shots. Pulisic was brought down in the box but a penalty was not given. Damiao then scored in the 86th minute for Kawasaki after some careless defending and Chelsea had no time left to respond.
While the game was a loss the positives that one can take are that Kawasaki were a great team to play from a fitness point of view while the quality of team was also evident. Kawasaki were in it to win it and did not treat the game as a friendly and so Chelsea got some stern competition and Lampard got things to think about. Chelsea travelled to Saitama post the game where they will face Barcelona on Tuesday. COME ON YOU BLUES!!!