Barcelona vs Chelsea
Chelsea and Barcelona have done an admirable job of hyping up this game on social media — cringey banter counts for engagement in 2019 — but at the end of the day, it’s just another friendly, number four for the Blues, number one for the Blaugrana this summer.
Just as our previous friendly was technically called the J.League World Challenge, this one’s also got an official name as part of the Rakuten Cup. Rakuten, the “Amazon.com of Japan” is Barcelona’s shirt sponsor.
Let’s get hyped for another marketing and fitness exercise!
Date / Time: Tuesday, July 23, 2019, 7:30pm local time, 11:30am BST; 6:30am EDT; 4pm IST
Venue: Saitama Stadium 2002, Saitama, Japan
Forecast: A thunderstorm or two during the day, followed by the usual warm, humind nightOn TV: ESPN2, ESPN Deportes (USA); elsewhere
Streaming: Chelsea TV (UK/Ireland, int’l), WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes+ (USA); Rakuten Sports (many other places)
Barcelona team news: The Spanish champions have just begun their preseason preparations, and their squad will be light a few of the big names, including Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, who are both on holidays still after the Copa America. Big-money summer signings Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie de Jong, and goalkeeper Neto Muraru, totaling well over €200m combined, could make their debuts — the arms race between Barca and Real Madrid this summer has been truly something to behold and it’s probably not done yet!
Barca head coach Ernesto Valverde finds himself under a bit of pressure after back-to-back Champions League failures and will be looking to start preparations for the new season on a strong foot.
Chelsea team news: After Friday’s defeat against Kawasaki Frontale, Lampard’s Blues will be looking to win this fake game as well, though perhaps we should just concentrate on playing less silly defence and having a more coherent attack. Baby steps.
Kepa Arrizabalaga should finally be ready to make his first appearance this preseason after a bout of illness ruled him out on Friday. Similarly, young striker Tammy Abraham has recovered from his unwell-ness. Unfortunately, N’Golo Kante has not recovered from his knee injury; in fact, he’s already been sent back to England to continue rehab there. There’s no need to rush him, but let’s hope he’s ready to go in three weeks when the season starts.