Chelsea prepare to face Inter Milan with their new boss Maurizio Sarri already having a familiarity with their opponents from his time in Serie A.
Chelsea got their pre-season underway with a 1-0 win over Perth Glory on Monday, with the fixture decided by an early goal from Pedro. But, new signing Jorginho gave a standout performance and would be looking ahead to repeat his exploits again.
Inter Milan, on the other hand, are without a win in their pre-season tour so far. The Nerazzurri have played out draws against Zenit St. Petersburg and Sheffield United. But, there is a lot enthusiasm about their own big-name summer signing, Radja Nainggolan.
The two sides have met previously in this pre-season tournament, with Inter Milan running out 2-1 victors over Chelsea in the 2017 edition. Ahead of their latest meeting on Saturday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
It is certain that Maurizio Sarri will decide to line up Chelsea in his favourite formation of 4-3-3. However, several key players of the squad will miss the fixture after completing their World Cup duties with their respective national sides at Russia 2018.
N’Golo Kante and Oliver Giroud are two of the absentees, who won the prestigious tournament. Moreover, Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and Willian have also not joined the squad yet. The truancy of Courtois and Willy Caballero means 18-year-old Marcin Bulka is expected to start in goal. It will be a massive opportunity for the youngster to impress Sarri before the start of next season.
Meanwhile, Davide Zappacosta and Marcos Alonso are expected to start in the full-back positions. It will be a shift in the playing style for them as they were used to play as wing-backs for a significant period of time under former manager Antonio Conte. Meanwhile, Antonio Rudiger has returned to the Blues camp after a disappointing World Cup campaign and could feature late on.
Pedro is expected to play a key role in attack alongside the young Callum Hudson-Odoi, who will get another opportunity to impress, with Alvaro Morato completing the front trio.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-3-3): Bulka; Zappacosta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Fabregas, Jorginho, Barkley; Hudson-Odoi, Morata, Pedro
Luciano Spalletti will step into the fixture with massive reinforcement in the squad after signing Radja Nainggolan from AS Roma this summer. However, the Belgian international is doubtful to appear against Chelsea due to a thigh injury.
But, Spalleti too, will miss several key players in all departments with Miranda, Marcelo Brozovic and Ivan Perisic unavailable, giving their deputies a chance to shine before the start of the season.
The rest of the team selection seems rather straightforward, with Samir Handanovic set to start in goal, and Danilo D’Ambrosio, Stefan De Vrij, Milan Skriniar and Chagas Estevao completing the back-four.
In midfield, summer signing Kwadwo Asamoah should pair with Roberto Gagliardini with Xian Emmers starting in the hole. Mauro Icardi and Antonio Candreva should accompany Lautaro Martinez up front.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, De Vrij, Skriniar, Estevao; Gagliardini, Asamoah; Martinez, Emmers, Candreva; Icardi
Journey so far in the International Champions Cup
Chelsea will play their first match of the tournament against the Italian club to kick-start their International Champions Cup journey this year. Maurizio Sarri’s men played Perth Glory on Monday, where Pedro scored the only goal in the initial minutes of the match.
Similarly, Inter Milan will also play their first match of the tournament on Saturday against Chelsea and would be hoping to win it. The Nerazzurri played a draw against Championship side Sheffield United in a friendly on Wednesday. But, a win over Chelsea should set the tone for the 2018-19 season perfectly.
Player To Watch
Chelsea’s notable addition this summer has a perfect opportunity to gel with his new teammates on this tour. Jorginho is anticipated to be one of the most pivotal players for the Blues in the upcoming season, with Sarri knowing the player’s qualities very well from their time at Napoli.
The player was praised for his incredible performance against Perth Glory last time out and is expected to hold the midfield efficiently again in this fixture. Moreover, Jorginho already has experience in facing Inter Milan, which could help him play a crucial role in this fixture. This pre-season tour is very important for the Italian international, who is showing promising signs for the season ahead.
Chelsea 1-2 Inter Milan
This is a match that pits two squads at different stages of their development in the pre-season. Inter Milan failed to perform against Sheffield United. But, the presence of Icardi and Nainggolan has put a spring in their steps, giving a massive advantage to the Nerazzurri.
Chelsea though, recently went through managerial crisis of sorts, as the appointment of Sarri was delayed for a long time. Moreover, the Blues have performed poorly in the summer transfer window, struggling to land their targets except Jorginho, thus bringing stagnancy in the squad.
Moreover, several key players are not available in the first team as they have not returned from their vacations yet. Hence, Chelsea would feature several inexperienced players in the starting XI, giving a significant advantage to the Italian giants on Saturday. The Hard Tackle predicts a closely contested game, with Luciano Spalletti’s men edging Chelsea in the end.