Chelsea continued their preparation for Man UTD with a solid 2-1 victory over Barcelona, who were playing their first match of pre-season after only landing in Japan yesterday. There was a clear difference in fitness, with Barcelona making 11 substitutions at half time, as Chelsea had done in their games against Bohemians and St Patrick’s.
The first half was particularly impressive from a Chelsea perspective, with there being a clear emphasis on pressing from the front, something that Mount and Abraham especially did very well with. Lampard started once more with a 4231 shape, with Jorginho and Kovacic once again impressing as the double pivot.
The defence was also very solid and kept Barcelona out, with Christensen partnering David Luiz, and Emerson and Azpilicueta as the full backs. Christensen impressed on numerous occasions, most notably in his duels with Barca debutant Griezmann.
At the other end of the pitch Christian Pulisic was handed his first start for the club and impressed, having a good effort on goal, with the rebound amazingly missed by Tammy Abraham. The American impressed throughout, getting 60 minutes under his belt. Abraham made up for his miss with a composed finish as he went round Ter Stegen in the 34th minute to score his first goal of pre-season.
The second half was much less intense with substitutions from both sides impacting the flow of the game. Lampard once again gave an opportunity to Kenedy who was ok, although his finishing was poor. He’s not really stood out so far, and you have to wonder how many more chances he’ll get to perform.
Ross Barkley was the standout player in the second half, playing some sublime passes and getting a goal in the 81st minute, which turned out to be the winner. He already looks to be playing with more freedom and confidence than last season under Sarri, with Lampard clearly making an impression on him.
It was a much better performance than against Kawasaki Frontale, with the 4231 system and pressing style working well. Barcelona’s fitness has to be taken into consideration but it was still a promising match from Chelsea, who play Reading next on Sunday.