The paucity of Chelsea’s striking options was once again laid bare on Wednesday as they finished their pre-season preparations with a lacklustre 1-0 loss at home to Fiorentina.
Visiting captain Gonzalo Rodriguez bundled in the only goal in the 34th minute at Stamford Bridge and with Diego Costa once again absent due to hamstring trouble, Jose Mourinho’s side toiled in attack as they went a fifth consecutive game without victory.
Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy squandered another chance to prove themselves as understudies for the absent Costa, leaving Mourinho with food for thought ahead of the start of his side’s Premier League title defence at home to Swansea City on Saturday.
“We have the real football on Saturday and today we couldn’t face this game in another way,” said Mourinho.
“Competitive minutes against a good team, who played for a result and gave us a very good training session.”
Asked if Costa would be fit to face Swansea, Mourinho replied: “I don’t know. I don’t risk to say yes, but I also don’t risk to say no.”
It was a second consecutive prestige friendly win for Fiorentina, fourth in Serie A last season and semi-finalists in both the Coppa Italia and Europa League, following their 2-1 victory over European champions Barcelona on Sunday.
“It was a good victory, a victory for the whole squad,” said coach Paulo Sousa. “I am happy for all the players.”
Falcao and Asmir Begovic make Stamford Bridge debut
Chelsea made 10 changes to the team beaten 1-0 by Arsenal in the Community Shield at the weekend, with skipper John Terry the only player to keep his place, while Falcao, Asmir Begovic, Bertrand Traore and Ola Aina made their home debuts.
Sousa also rang the changes, making seven in total. The visitors threatened first, Matias Fernandez testing Begovic low to his right.
Chelsea began to take control, Ruben Loftus-Cheek heading over and seeing a shot blocked and Aina having an effort deflected over, but after Matias Vecino had thundered a shot against the bar for the visitors and Begovic had parried a curling attempt by Khouma Babacar, Fiorentina struck.
A cross from the right was chested down by Marcos Alonso and although his left-foot effort was blocked at the near post by former Stoke City goalkeeper Begovic, the ball squirted out to Gonzalo, who bundled home.
Beginning at half-time, Chelsea made nine changes in the second half, with Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, Gary Cahill and Nemanja Matic among the first-team stalwarts to enter the fray.
Fiorentina also sent on nine substitutes, including Italy striker Giuseppe Rossi, who missed the entirety of the 2014-15 season following the third serious knee injury of his career.
Substitute Josip Ilicic and Ante Rebic threatened for Fiorentina and although Chelsea finished the game in the ascendancy, they could not find an equaliser.
Cahill saw a pair of headers saved by Luigi Sepe and Remy, who replaced Falcao on the hour, shot wastefully wide after cutting inside Alonso.
Having also lost to New York Red Bulls and drawn with Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona — both of whom they beat on penalties — it completed an underwhelming pre-season for Chelsea, who have only two days to find a higher gear.
Here are the highlights of the game:
. By AFP