Preseason Friendly Preview: Chelsea vs Real Sociedad

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Chelsea play host to Real Sociedad from Spain at the Stamford Bridge. The match holds special importance because it is the first time since 2006 when Chelsea hosted Celtic at the Bridge, that a pre-season friendly is being held at the home ground.

La Real come into the match on the back of a defeat to Newcastle United at St. James’ Park a couple of days ago. Conversely, Mourinho’s men head into the match on the back of a strong preseason, with a couple of minor blips amidst an otherwise impressive pre-season, where they have won all but one game. The real concern however has been the injury suffered by Didier Drogba, who twisted his ankle the last time Chelsea went out to play.

The upcoming match is the last preseason game before Chelsea start full swing preparations for their first Premier League match of the season against new boys Burnley, hence Jose Mourinho is expected to field a full strength team to show what his team can do, and perhaps he has got nothing to fear given the abilities and form of the visiting side.

There are a couple of other firsts in this preseason game as well: this is the first game that will be played on the new pitch that’s based on Desso GrassMaster apart from the new LED illumination that has been put in place instead of regular metal halide lamps.

In terms of the team, Mourinho revealed after their last match that not everyone was hitting top levels, with many World Cup participants joining the team late in the preseason because of extended vacations, however if Mourinho can be trusted every piece will fall in place before August 18, and La Real will provide a good litmus test to that claim.

Starting from the back, its Thibaut Courtois who might very much be handed his first Stamford Bridge match against visiting Spanish side, but with Petr Cech looming, he will have to be at his best to be hopeful of starting the first game of the Premier League come August 18.

In the defence, John Terry and Gary Cahill will be at the center of the action, while Kurt Zouma might get a say at some part of the game. Filipe Luis is certain to start at left back given the fact that Mourinho would want him to hit the ground running when his sureshot debut in the Premier League comes on Chelsea’s first matchday. Azpilicueta will probably start at the right back position natural to him, but Ivanovic will not be far from the action, and would probably get the crucial minutes to play as well.

Nemanja Matic will be the Defensive midfielder of Choice, however, it is upto speculation where Mourinho will deploy new star Cesc Fabregas. Whether Mourinho want Van Ginkel in the mix or not will decide the problem eventually and it is more than likely that Fabregas would partner Matic and Oscar would start behind the striker at no. 10.

It would be good to remind ourselves that Cesc Fabregas has already started to show the class that makes him the man for Chelsea, courtesy of some goals and assists in the preceding preseason friendlies.

Partnering Oscar on his left would be Belgium star and Premier League’s young player of the past season Eden Hazard, who would be wearing the #10 Jersey for the first time at the Bridge since Juan Mata left the Bridge, but it’s not about Mata leaving, its about the new number 10 of Chelsea. On the right, World Champion Andre Schurrle would be expected to start with both Willian and Salah warming the bench at the start of the game, only to be brought on as substitutes in the later part of the game or in an unfortunate event of an injury as was the case with King Drogba the last time out he played.

Torres will be Torres, so expect new Talisman in form Diego Costa to lead the line for the Blues, for the first at the Bridge, interestingly: Mourinho wants fans to arrive early to welcome the new players and the old, and that is more than just a hint of who will play and who will miss the goal.

Expected Starting Line-Up:

Thibaut Courtois(GK); Filipe Luis, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Cesar Azpilicueta; Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas; Eden Hazard, Oscar, Schurrle; Costa.

Expected Bench:

Petr Cech, Ivanovic, Zouma, Van Ginkel, Salah, Willian, Torres, Drogba, Ramires.

Date / Time: Tuesday, August 12, 2014, 19:45 BST; 2:45pm EDT; 12:15am IST (next day)

Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6

Online/On TV: Chelsea TV(Free)

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