Before their Premier League campaign kicks off, Chelsea are going to play a few games in Asia and Europe. After taking on local club Kawasaki Frontale in Japan on Friday, they will play European superpower Barcelona on Tuesday. Both sides will be keen off to their new signings before returning to the continent, and this will be our first chance to see them in action.
Don’t miss this international friendly between Chelsea and Barcelona from Saitama Stadium in Midori-ku, Saitama, Japan. The match will kickoff at 6:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday, July 23. It will be broadcast on ESPN2.
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The last meeting between Chelsea and Barcelona was just last year. The two clubs met in the Champions League Round of 16, and Lionel Messi was instrumental in leading the Blaugrana past the Blues. He scored a vital away goal in Stamford Bridge and notched a brace to lead Barcelona to a 4-1 win over Chelsea on aggregate.
New Faces - Chelsea
Because of Chelsea’s transfer ban, the club couldn’t do much over the summer. The Blues agreed to a deal with Borussia Dortmund for American phenom Christian Pulisic back in January, and they completed a previously agreed permanent transfer for Mateo Kovacic, but that’s all the were able to add.
Pulisic is going to be the player that every Chelsea fan is most excited to see. He has showed plenty of potential during his time with Borussia Dortmund and the USMNT, and he is expected to see some action here.
There’s a new manager at Stamford Bridge too. Old Blues’ legend Frank Lampard is taking over for Maurizio Sarri, and there are certain to be changes. The most obvious change is that Jorginho will no longer be the primary defensive midfielder. For reasons that only made sense to Sarri, Jorginho was used in this role instead of N’Golo Kante, and there were some problems.
Key Departures – Chelsea
Chelsea lost their best offensive weapon this offseason. Eden Hazard left for Real Madrid, and it will be very difficult to replace his production. The Blues did not have a proven forward that could finish consistently, so Hazard took it upon himself to both finish and distribute. He finished with 16 goals and 15 assists, and no other Chelsea player broke double-digits in either category.
New Faces – Barcelona
The rumors continue to fly that Neymar might rejoin Barcelona before the start of the season. There’s been plenty of speculation that he is ready to leave Paris Saint-Germain, but there is no deal just yet.
Even if they don’t add Neymar, Barca made themselves considerably better in the offseason. Antoine Griezmann came over from Atletico Madrid in one of the biggest transfer fees in the summer, and that will give Messi a forward to work with that is in the prime of his career.
Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong was a massive signing too. The 22-year-old was one of the darlings of Ajax’s run to the Champions League semifinals, and he will give Barca another real weapon. Goalkeeper Neto and right back Emerson were signed too, making this a big summer for the Blaugrana.
Griezmann, Neto, and de Jong should see some time on the pitch in Japan.
Key Departures – Barcelona
Of course, to make room for those signings, Barca had to part ways with some other players. Jasper Cillessen is off to Valencia, Andre Gomes is now at Everton, and Paco Alcacer moved to Borussia Dortmund. Denis Suarez left too, as those players would see little time to develop.
Chelsea vs Barcelona Prediction
This match will be more about the fans than anything else, and the result isn’t really consequential. However, if I were to pick a side, I would go with Chelsea, as Lampard is a new manager and they always like to try to get off to a good start.
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