One of the more interesting preseason friendlies took place at Yankee Stadium in New York as Chelsea took on PSG as part of the World Football Challenge, with both teams not fielding their strongest lineups due to various reasons, ending the entertaining friendly in a 1-1 draw.
The most interesting thing about these matches is showcasing new talent. Chelsea started probably the most intriguing of them, Eden Hazard, playing behind the striker at the no. 10 position. When Juan Mata ends his Olympic and national duties, it’ll be interesting to see how the two mesh together and which one will be forced to switch positions. For now, Romelu Lukaku got the start at striker while Gael Kakuta and Kevin De Bruyne started on the wings. Marko Marin got a chance in the second half.
Although everyone were waiting to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swedish striker didn’t show up. Javier Pastore more than made up for it with a very good game, especially in the first half, along with Nene, joint-top scorer in the French Ligue 1 last season, opening the goalscoring in New York as well after 29 minutes. Ezequiel Lavezzi made an unimpressive start up front for the Parisians.
So what did we have? Chelsea played with their to-be keeper, centre backs and midfield. The rest will probably be different once the real season begins. It didn’t look too good in the first half. PSG, with pretty much the same players from last season minus two of their biggest signings of the summer (Ibra, Thiago Silva) had a much more comfortable feel to their play, navigated by the fantastic Pastore.
Eden Hazard found it hard to work the players around him, as Frank Lampard and him didn’t really find a lot in common on the playing field. Still, if anything did happen for Chelsea in the first half and later, it was thanks to the Belgium international with a few brilliant touches on the ball. The equalizer came from another talented, but less heralded player – 18 year-old Lucas Piazon from Brazil, who might get more chances than expected with the senior team if the scoring continues.
Conclusions? Chelsea, despite not bringing in more than two players this summer, are going to need more time. Roberto Di Matteo isn’t going to play like last season, as the entire influence of Didier Drogba has left the club to distant shores. At least for a start, this is going to be an attempt at attractive football. PSG are a more continuing and evolving group from last season, destined not only to win the club’s first Ligue 1 title since 1994, but place themselves as one of Europe’s elite.