For a second successive fixture a penalty-shootout was required to determine the outcome of Chelsea’s last International Champions Cup game on North American soil.
Chelsea appeared energised and invigorated; Chelsea’s 14/15 player of the season scored the opening goal of the game in truly remarkable fashion. The Belgian utilized his dribbling capacity, with electrifying pace and adroit footwork he glided effortlessly past three Barca players and scored with a composed finish. Nevertheless, Chelsea were made to rue wasted opportunities and an enlivened Barcelona side equalised through Luis Suarez, despite Kurt Zouma’s best efforts to prevent the ball from crossing the line. Supporters present at the FedEx Stadium witnessed another spectacular strike; Sandro Ramirez from Barcelona executed a superb finesse shot which presented Barcelona with a 2-1 advantage. Through great perseverance and endeavour, Chelsea displayed the character and resilience to draw level. At the expense of a potential broken nose, Gary Cahill towered above his opponents to equalise. Thibaut’s contribution to the shootout was yet again significant as he registered two crucial saves to position Chelsea in the ascendancy. Loic Remy was empowered with the responsibility to ensure Chelsea would register consecutive victories.
Here are three key points from Chelsea’s triumph:
1) Defensive Frailties present
2) Positive contribution from debutant Robert Kenedy
3) Strength in depth – attacking options.
1) A notable feature of our first-half display was pressing opponents, restricting the space to operate and regaining possession. Often in advanced positions, our attacking players were quick to impose themselves on the opposition and retrieve possession of the football. In the second-half our efforts to emulate the same intensity was deficient. At times we appeared rather lethargic, granting Barcelona’s creative talents the space to influence the game. Sandro Ramirez was able to compose himself and produce a magnificent shot, due to a lack of pressure and awareness from the Chelsea defence. In addition, there were certain moments during the game in which we seemed dysfunctional, with uncommon errors present such as Cesar Azpilicueta’s clearing header which fell straight to the path of Suarez and consequently the Catalan side scored.
2) Much too the astonishment of the Chelsea faithful Robert Kenedy was presented with his debut following permission from his parent club Fluminsese. Kenedy’s involvement was evident as he recorded 18 touches, completing 7 out of his attempted 8 passes and gaining a free-kick. Apparent from his debut was his work-ethic and he did not yield to physical challenges. Incidentally, the use of his physicality prevented Luis Suarez from scoring as the Brazilian shielded his body to dispose of Suarez , negating any potential threat. His confidence was noticeable as he attempted an audacious cross-field path to Nemanja Matic, acquiring territory in the process. He exhibited fierce determination.
3) Diego Costa was substituted due to the reoccurrence of his hamstring problems; accordingly Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao participated in the game. Radamel Falcao demonstrated once again, his ability to hold up the play against the might of Barcelona’s sturdy defensive unit. Loic Remy operated in his favoured striker-role as his partnership and understanding with Falcao began to develop. In addition, Victor Moses who conceivably has been Chelsea’s best player on the tour appeared menacing prompting complications for Barcelona’s experienced defence. Furthermore, the game last night and the tour itself displayed the measure of our depth especially with regards to attacking talents. Eden Hazard, Willian, Oscar, Cesc Fabregas, Victor Moses, Bertrand Traore, Juan Cuadrado, Loic Remy and Robert Kenedy are all creative talents who will provide healthy competition and crucial squad depth in the forthcoming season.