Chelsea beat FC Barcelona 2-1 to win the Rakuten Cup in Japan. It was a one-off friendly that took place at the Saitama Stadium.
Frank Lampard picked a starting eleven with some of his regulars throughout the pre-season and handed a first appearance to Kepa. Pulisic also made his first Chelsea start on the left-wing of a 4-2-3-1 with Tammy Abraham leading the line.
The game seemed the first difficult fixture for Lampard’s side on paper as the Europa League champions recovered from their 1-0 loss to Kawasaki Frontale to defeat the Spanish champions. Barcelona were without their talisman Messi and striker Luis Suarez who were still on holiday. However, they handed a debut to Antoine Griezmann, who joined from Atletico Madrid this summer.
Barcelona looked sharp despite playing their first pre-season fixture with Oriol Busquets heading over and Ousmane Dembele almost coming close to a good chance.
Pulisic impressed when he created space to take a shot at goal. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen pushed it away only to fall in the path of Abraham who fired it over. Chelsea’s game time allowed them to attack better with chances created by both the full-backs. Yet they still lacked the finishing touch.
The deadlock was broken when Jorginho’s high pressing won the ball from Sergio Busquets finding Abraham who went around Ter Stegen to score the first. Pulisic’s pace proved difficult for Barcelona when he trod down the left wing but his shot could only find the side netting.
Only two changes were made for Chelsea as Zouma and Alonso came on for Luiz and Emerson. Barcelona sent an entirely new side to play with the likes of Frenkie de Jong and Neto getting their debut.
Rafinha and Carles Perez gave Barcelona some attacking momentum with their shots on target but they were straight into the hands of Kepa who took some good practice throughout the second half.
Kenedy and Batshuayi had their chances which yielded no fruit. Barkley who has been impressive throughout pre-season put the game to bed when he scored from 20-yards out with his left foot which could have been kept out by Neto.
Ivan Rakitic scored an absolute beauty when he fired into the top corner of the net from 25-yards out. But it was nothing more than a consolation.
It was a good performance by the team and it’ll add some confidence moving forward.
The blues head back home before taking on Reading on 28 July.