It was a given when Lampard’s the manager.
Chelsea bounced back from their defeat to Kawasaki Frontale by beating Barcelona 1-2 in Saitama and winning the Rakuten Cup. It was another humid night in Japan but the Chelsea squad were better suited to the climate as opposed to Barca and showed more fitness overall. Barca were playing their first game but the quality of the opposition was on show.
Barcelona fielded a strong starting lineup with Ter Stegen in goal, Busquets, Pique, Umtiti, and Alba making up the defence, Roberto, Busquets, and Puig making up the midfield, and Dembele, Griezmann, and Collado making up the front three. Kepa started his first game for Chelsea, Azpi, Christensen, Luiz, and Emerson made up the defence, Jorginho, and Kovacic the midfield, and Pedro, Mount, and Pulisic played behind Tammy. A strong lineup for both teams with Lampard fielding a team that could possibly start against United with one or two changes. Barcelona started the better of the two teams but after a few minutes Chelsea started getting into the game and creating chances. Pulisic broke through the defence and curled in a shot which deflected into Tammy’s path who fluffed it. Tammy was in the mood though and along with Mount, Jorginho and Kovacic the pressing game was top notch from Chelsea. The good pressing led to Jorginho taking the ball from Sergio Busquets and passing it into Tammy’s path who dribbled past Ter Stegen to score in the 34th minute. Ter Stegen made some good saves while Chelsea had the most chances in the first half. Griezmann and co did cause problems but Kepa was more than up for the task. Tammy, Pulisic, Mount, Kovacic and Jorginho particularly impressed. In a 4-2-3-1 formation Kovacic and Jorginho are looking comfortable although Kante should solidify his position next to Kovacic once back. Pulisic was lively and showed promise once again he did lack some finishing but it’s his second game and he’s 20 so there is no pressure. Mount pressed with vigour and showed once again why he should be considered to start against United while Tammy got a goal and showed his energy up front.
Barcelona made 11 changes for the second half with Neto coming in as the goalkeeper, Jaime, Todibo, Lenglet, and Semedo in defence, Rakitic, De Jong, Alena in midfield, and Malcom, Alcantara, and Perez up front. Chelsea only made two changes at half time with Zouma and Alonso coming on. Barcelona once again started the half the better team and really tested Kepa in the opening 15 minutes. Kepa made several saves although most of the shots were at him, still Kepa kept Barca quiet and Chelsea in the lead. Lampard then made his changes with Tomori, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Bakayoko, Kennedy, Barkley, Batshuayi, and Giroud up front. The changes helped Chelsea as we grew back into the game and Batshuayi missed a brilliant chance to make it 2-0. Barkley then popped up with a brilliant shot from outside of the box to make it 2-0 in the 81st minute. Barkley showed his quality further forward again as he challenges Mount for a starting spot in the no10 position. Kennedy also looked good although he lacked fitness and for now Pedro should be starting down the right wing. Rakitic then scored a brilliant goal from outside of the box in the 91st minute to give Barcelona a consolation goal.
Chelsea won the Rakuten Cup and ended their tour of Japan on a high. Lampard can take many positives especially from the Barca game while we seem to have learned a lot from the game against Kawasaki. The victory was followed by the news that Hudson-Odoi will be signing a new deal for Chelsea sometime next week and so it was a good day overall. Chelsea returned to London after the game and will play Reading on Sunday in our next friendly. COME ON YOU BLUES!!!