Chelsea vs Paris Saint-Germain | Sunday 26th July | Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte | 00:00
Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain collide in the International Champions Cup at the Bank of America Stadium in North Carolina. The Blues will be looking to start their pre-season on a high and get some sort of payback against the French outfit that eliminated them from the Champions League. PSG will relish the chance of adding further misery to Chelsea and will fight tooth and nail in their bid to upset the Blues once again. It should be an entertaining matchup and given the recent history between these two sides, this will be no friendly.
To Win (90mins)
Paris Saint-Germain’s pre-season preparations continue in the United States this week. After an entertaining 3-2 victory over Benfica in Toronto, they will face Serie A side Fiorentina at the Red Bull Arena on Wednesday before meeting familiar foes Chelsea in their third match of the International Champions Cup. The summer so far has not been ideal from the perspective of the French champions’ ambitious Qatari owners. PSG have made just two signings so far; German goalkeeper Kevin Trapp from Eintracht Frankfurt and Benjamin Stambouli from Tottenham – the latter replacing Yohan Cabaye who has just joined Crystal Palace. Stambouli will add greatly to Blanc’s strength in depth, considering that he is capable of not only playing his preferred defensive midfield role, but also as a central defender.
PSG have a star-studded squad that Chelsea know all too well and many are expected to return for this match. Blanc is blessed with a talent littered assortment of options who boast pace and power in abundance, with these attributes allowing the Parisians to break with devastating efficiency. After his impressive performance in victories over Wiener SK and Benfica, Jean-Kevin Augustin should be given another chance to impress against Chelsea. The highly-rated 18-year-old will be hoping to seize any and every chance that he is given to show what he can offer his coach in the coming season. Marco Verratti is capable of providing that moment of magic as he possesses excellent vision, sure passing ability and a fine first touch. Verratti offers a threat in the final third as he has the ability to score goals and create opportunities for his team-mates. He’s caused the Chelsea defence plenty of problems whenever he’s come up against them and the Blues can’t afford to allow him too much time on the ball. In attack, PSG only get more formidable with the lethal duo of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani who are proven net-rattlers.
Chelsea will play their second pre-season friendly following their midweek match with New York Red Bulls. The Blues stormed to their fifth league title last season with a record-breaking run in pole position and also lifted the Capital One Cup. Jose Mourinho assembled a squad that combined devastating attacking invention with ruthless determination in defence. Among the highlights of a memorable campaign were the genius of Eden Hazard and the flair of Oscar and Willian complemented by the driving force up front of Diego Costa and the midfield mastery of Cesc Fabregas. Nemanja Matic was a colossus in front of the best defence in England, led by the indomitable skipper, John Terry, whose consistently outstanding performances have rolled back the years.
Their low point of the season was against Paris Saint-Germain when they crashed out of the Champions League on away goals in the first knockout round. The Blues were heavily criticised for showing PSG far too much respect on that day when they should have gone for the jugular after the French outfit had been reduced to ten men following a controversial red card to Ibrahimovic. This time Chelsea don’t have any lead to hold onto or strategy to qualify so with this being a pre-season friendly, we should get to see an attacking Chelsea team that will be going all out to win, with the players all eager to impress Mourinho while he ponders whether to go into the market again. The Blues have added Radamel Falcao and Asmir Begovic to make an already strong squad that bit stronger. Chelsea have a surprisingly impressive squad for a pre-season tournament which includes the highly-rated Burkina Faso starlet Bertrand Traore who has been promoted to the first team following an outstanding season with Vitesse Arnhem. Traore scored seventeen goals with five assists in all competitions last season and that was enough to convince Mourinho to bring him back to Stamford Bridge. Copa America stars Willian, Juan Cuadrado, Filipe Luis and Falcao have joined up with the squad too late to play any part in this match but are available for the next friendly against Barcelona on Wednesday.
VERDICT: Chelsea 9/10
These pre-season games are very hard to predict as managers don’t usually field their strongest teams and the best bet is looking at who has better depth. Chelsea clearly have a much stronger squad than the French outfit. PSG have just as good an eleven that will definitely not play a full game, which should see the Blues capitalise. The likes of Hazard and Fabregas can provide the ammunition and flair needed to keep Costa in the goals. Chelsea are well worth a punt at 9/10.