PLAYERS BACK IN TRAINING TODAY

Jul 09, 2014 Posted Under: News

Members of Jose Mourinho’s first team squad return to pre-season training later today (Wednesday) as preparations begin for the 2014/15 campaign.

The players will have lunch at Cobham before their first training session later in the afternoon. They will then undergo double sessions, one in the morning and another in the afternoon, tomorrow and on Friday.

It is just under two months since the final fixture of 2013/14 was played at Cardiff, and the Blues head north to take on newly-promoted Burnley in our opening game of the new league season in mid-August, a fixture which is preceded by a number of friendly matches across the UK and Europe.

It will be squad members who have not been involved in the World Cup in today, including the likes of John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic, Mohamed Salah and others, with young players from the Academy likely to be part of the training in the coming days too.

Those players who exited the World Cup at the group stage – including new signing Cesc Fabregas – will join up with the squad ahead of our European training camp, with those who progressed further in the tournament arriving back at various points subsequently.

Our first pre-season friendly takes place at Wycombe Wanderers next Wednesday, which is followed by a game against AFC Wimbledon the following Saturday.

The squad will then fly off for a two-week training camp, playing matches in Austria, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Germany.

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GERMANY STUN BRAZIL TO REACH FINAL

Jul 09, 2014 Posted Under: News

Andre Schurrle scored a brace as Germany booked their place in Sunday’s World Cup final with one of the most memorable international performances in living memory, beating hosts Brazil 7-1 in Belo Horizonte.

Joachim Low’s side produced a remarkable first-half display, scoring five times in the space of 18 unbelievable minutes, stunning the home supporters – who prior to the game had belted out the national anthem with such admirable patriotism – into silence.

Friday’s quarter-final against Colombia, in which Brazil took an early lead, seemed a world away for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side who fell behind after just 11 minutes.

The goal, particularly given the magnitude of the occasion, was one of breathtaking simplicity, as Thomas Muller arrived unmarked in the penalty area, in acres of space, to volley home a Bastian Schweinsteiger corner.

From a defensive point of view it really was a poor goal to concede.

Miroslav Klose then made history, becoming the World Cup’s record goalscorer to double Germany’s lead, tapping into an empty net after Julio Cesar had saved his initial effort. It was Klose’s 16th goal in the competition.

Just a minute later the game was all but ended as a contest when Bayern Munich midfielder Toni Kroos added his name to the scoresheet with a sweet left-footed drive.

Mesut Ozil released Phillip Lahm down the right-hand side, and while Muller swung his foot at thin air as the delivery came in, the ball rolled invitingly into the path of Kroos who dispatched his strike with aplomb.

The Brazilian players looked visibly stunned by what was taking place but the Germans were in no mood to offer them a route back into the game, and if the home side thought it couldn’t get any worse they were proved wrong virtually from the restart.

Germany pressed high up the pitch, forcing Fernandinho into a sloppy pass; Kroos reacted quickest, pouncing on the loose ball and driving forward, before exchanging passes with Sami Khedira and rolling the ball into the back of the net.

There were just 179 seconds between Germany’s second and fourth goals.

A thumping was becoming an all-out humiliation for the home side, and worse was still to come as three minutes later they found themselves 5-0 down.

Germany were opening the Brazilians up at will, slicing through a virtual non-existent defence every time they attacked.

Khedira had been instrumental during the opening half-hour, and he got the goal his display had merited when he fired home from the edge of the box following good build-up play between Ozil and Klose.

Somewhat surprisingly given what had taken place, Brazil were able to see out the remaining 16 minutes of the first half without conceding and, with damage limitation his priority at the break, Scolari replaced Fernandinho and the ineffective Hulk with Ramires and Paulinho.

To their credit, Brazil began the second half positively, looking to give their supporters something to cheer, and they should have pulled one back when both Oscar and Paulinho were denied twice in quick succession.

Equally, though, Germany had their tails up and sensed there were more goals in it for them. Schurrle was introduced just before the hour and almost teed up Muller for a sixth, only for Cesar to make a brilliant save.

The Chelsea winger’s positive running off the ball, however, was proving a useful outlet on the break, and after threatening on a couple of occasions he made it 6-0 with 21 minutes left on the clock.

Once again, the Germans made it look so easy; Kroos found Lahm, whose cross was a simple one, but as the Brazilian defence remained static, Schurrle pounced and rolled his strike beyond Cesar.

It was Schurrle’s second goal of the competition, and moments later he added a third with undoubtedly the pick of the bunch, bringing a ball down out of the air with one touch, pulling away from former team-mate David Luiz and firing an unstoppable drive past Cesar off the bar.

It was almost too much to take for some of the home supporters inside the stadium, who were unable to contain their frustration.

Willian had been introduced at the expense of Fred with the score at 6-0, while Ramires showed enough in the second half to suggest he should have started the game.

Oscar pulled one back for the hosts in the 90th minute, finishing brilliantly, but it was no consolation given what had gone before, and it’s Germany who reach their first World Cup final since 2002, where they will play either Argentina or the Netherlands.

For Brazil, their involvement in the competition has come to an end in the most dramatic manner.

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MY FIRST BIG GAME: OSCAR AND WILLIAN

Jul 08, 2014 Posted Under: News

In a week that hosts one of the biggest football matches off them all, the official Chelsea website publishes memories our players have shared of a big match from early in their lives which stands out in their minds.

In some cases, they’ve chosen games they attended as a supporter, while in others they’ve plumped for matches in which they’ve taken part.

Today we hear from two players in action for Brazil later today, Oscar and Willian…

Oscar
The first big game I played in was as a 16-year-old, I’d just turned professional and I played for Sao Paulo against Corinthians, our biggest rivals. I came on a substitute at half-time and played the whole second half. It was a great experience for me, there were 60,000 supporters inside the stadium and it was amazing to be involved but unfortunately we lost the game 2-1.

The first big game I went to as a fan was Sao Paulo against Corinthians in Sao Paulo. It was a big game in Brazil. I was about 12 years old. When I was younger I saw State Championship games in my city but that was the first very big game I saw.

The atmosphere was fantastic. There were about 60,000 people there. Luis Fabiano was playing and Mineiro, who played here at Chelsea, was playing for Sao Paulo.

Willian
I remember the first big match I played in. It was a bad day. I played for Corinthians against Palmeiras, a big game in Brazil, and we lost 3-0! As I said, it was a bad day!

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BLUES DUO PREPARING FOR SEMI-FINAL BATTLE

Jul 07, 2014 Posted Under: News

Two of our players hoping to be involved as Brazil and Germany bid for a place in the World Cup final have been looking ahead to tomorrow’s game in Belo Horizonte.

Willian is yet to start a game in the competition, but looks like being the biggest beneficiary of the injury to Neymar which has ruled Brazil’s talisman out of the competition.

Having impressed during the friendlies ahead of the tournament, Willian is favourite to get the nod ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk’s Bernard, and the Chelsea winger, despite picking up a knock in training at the weekend, is determined to help Brazil overcome a strong Germany side if called upon.

‘I am feeling great. I was hurt on my left side in training (on Saturday) and it bothers me a bit but it is nothing significant and it won’t stop me training,’ he said.

Willian, who impressed during his first season at Stamford Bridge, acknowledged the significance of Neymar’s absence, but remains confident Brazil can go on and win a sixth World Cup for their injured team-mate.

‘Neymar sets the standard for us. He is capable of deciding any game, so playing without him will be difficult,’ said Willian.

‘We know the quality that we have. We are all very sad at losing him but we are now even stronger after what happened and we can continue to pursue our dream.’

Schurrle

Andre Schurrle, meanwhile, believes his inside knowledge of Brazil’s Chelsea contingent – as well as the recently-departed David Luiz – could go a long way to helping Germany secure a first World Cup final appearance since 2002.

Schurrle, like Willian, is yet to start a game in the tournament, but he has been used regularly as an impact substitute, and scored the crucial opening goal in their 2-1 extra-time win over Algeria.

‘Of course, if somebody asks me how to play against Oscar or David Luiz, I’m here to help,’ Schurrle said.

‘We haven’t been in touch during the tournament. We are rivals here so there have not been any text messages.

‘For me it will be cool to play against my Brazilian friends from Chelsea.’

Joachim Low’s side booked their place in the semi-finals with a 1-0 win over France on Friday courtesy of a Mats Hummels header, and Schurrle is confident they can go all the way.

‘We have quality, it’s not just luck or the DNA of the players,’ he said. ‘We have had some tight matches, but we have deserved to win every game we have won. That was the case against France as well.

‘The best thing about the team is that we win. We fight and give everything we have. We have good players and we win in the end, that’s the most important thing.’

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THE CHELSEA WORLD CUP PAST: PART THREE

Jul 07, 2014 Posted Under: News

The official Chelsea website continues our look back on past Chelsea involvement at the World Cup by reflecting on the 1998 and 2002 editions, which produced mixed results…


1998
The cosmopolitan nature of our squad in the later part of the 1990s meant there were 10 Chelsea players on show at France ’98, representing a remarkable nine different countries. Thrillingly, we had our first Chelsea goalscorer at a World Cup – Dan Petrescu – and, by the tournament’s end, our first winners, too.

It felt as though there was a Blue on display every day and history suggests that was the case, certainly at the beginning of the tournament, anyway. On the first day we saw Tore Andre Flo lead the line for Norway in a cracking 2-2 draw with Morocco; Roberto Di Matteo was involved as Italy drew by the same scoreline with Chile on day two.

Day three brought Chelsea supporters a chance to see two new signings in action. Marcel Desailly and Brian Laudrup had agreed to move to Stamford Bridge before a ball had been kicked in France, and both enjoyed impressive tournaments. Desailly was vital as France lifted the trophy, while Laudrup weighed in with two goals as an exciting Denmark side reached the quarter-finals.

Celestine Babayaro, of Nigeria, and Frank Sinclair, of Jamaica, then got their tournament underway on consecutive evenings, before a group containing two more Chelsea defenders began with victories for Dan Petrescu’s Romania and Graeme Le Saux’s England, against Colombia and Tunisia respectively.

Our full-backs would provide arguably the most lasting Chelsea memory from that tournament. England’s game with Romania in Toulouse was locked at 1-1 as the game entered its final minute. Petrescu found himself in the unfamiliar position of centre-forward and was tracked by the equally out-of-place Graeme Le Saux as he darted onto a through ball placed in between England’s centre-backs. Quite how our right-back had ended up in an attacking left position, and our left-back in a right-sided defensive position, remains one of football’s tantalising enigmas.

Petrescu, seemingly in one movement, got the better of both Le Saux (below) and David Seaman, craftily and cutely slipping the ball inside the England goalkeeper’s near post. It was the first goal by a Chelsea player at a World Cup finals. Romania and England progressed and both players would only miss their first minutes of the tournament when subbed late on in second-round exits, Petrescu having faced Croatia and Le Saux Argentina.

Chelsea men Le Saux and Petrescu tussle at France 98

Babayaro was another whose tournament ended in the Round of 16, despite Nigeria topping a qualification group which included Spain, and Albert Ferrer, who like Desailly and Laudrup signed before the footballing feast got underway.

Laudrup’s Denmark proved too strong for Baba’s Nigeria in the second round. Laudrup scored one, made one, and hit the bar in an easy 4-1 victory. His and the Danes’ run would end at the quarter-final stage, but not before he had netted his second goal and provided his second assist in as many games, against the brilliant Brazilians.

The reigning champions were on the receiving end of a shock in the group stage, though, in no small part due to the strength and finishing ability Chelsea fans had grown accustomed to seeing Tore Andre Flo (below) produce in his first year at the Bridge. Trailing 1-0, the Norwegian striker proved too quick and too strong for a yellow-shirted defender, and he converted with trademark aplomb past Taffarel, the Brazil keeper. Flo then won an 88th-minute penalty, initially in controversial circumstances until one photograph taken from the perfect angle later proved he had been fouled. The victory sent Norway, captained by former Blue Frode Grodas, into the Round of 16, where Italy, without Di Matteo in the side, beat them 1-0.

Flo Chelsea

Jamaica, for whom Frank Sinclair played every minute, began France ’98 as serious underdogs in their maiden World Cup appearance. Though they didn’t make it through the group stage the Reggae Boyz did have a victory to celebrate, beating Japan 2-1 in Lyon.

In the end, on home soil, it was France’s tournament. With Desailly imperious they conceded just two goals throughout, while going forward Les Bleus possessed the enviable knack of scoring crucial goals at critical times. Laurent Blanc’s golden goal against Paraguay in the last 16, the first such type in World Cup history, was one; another defender, Lilian Thuram, struck an unlikely brace in the semi-finals against the dangerous Croatians, who had briefly held the lead.

Frank Lebeouf had come on in that game immediately after Laurent Blanc was sent off. He also featured in the group stage win over Denmark too, but, in his illustrious career, perhaps nothing will equal starting the World Cup final in Paris and producing a defensive masterclass, alongside Desailly, to thwart the danger posed by the world’s greatest striker, Ronaldo.

Lebeouf Chelsea

Zinedine Zidane thumped in two perfect headers at the other end and the French, captained by Didier Deschamps, were able to see out the game despite a red card, for two bookable offences, being shown to Desailly. Another future Blue, Emmanuel Petit, wrapped up the scoring and Chelsea supporters could smile at seeing two of their own with the World Cup trophy.


2002
The first Asian World Cup, hosted by Japan and South Korea, was far less memorable than its predecessor from a Chelsea perspective. Only Jesper Gronkjaer, who played in all four of Denmark’s games, made it out of the group stage. They were comfortably beaten by England in the last 16.

There was no Holland at all at the tournament, so no Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Mario Melchiot, or Boudewijn Zenden; Gianfranco Zola and Carlo Cudicini did not make the cut for Italy, while there was no space in Sven Goran-Eriksson’s England squad for either Graeme Le Saux or the emerging John Terry.

Marcel Desailly and Emmanuel Petit were selected for France, who went into the tournament as the holders, but they suffered an ignominious group stage exit that included a 2-0 loss to Denmark, and Gronkjaer (pictured below). France’s defeat to upstarts Senegal in the opening game set the tone for a showing that was as poor as their efforts in 1998 had been heroic.

Gronkjaer Chelsea

Celestine Babayaro appeared at his second World Cup for the Super Eagles of Nigeria, playing left-back in their defeat to Argentina, and left midfield in their defeat to Sweden. He was an unused sub in the goalless draw with England that ended Nigeria’s involvement in the Far East.

Mario Stanic, integral for Croatia as they reached the semi-finals in 1998, had nothing more than a bit-part role four years later. He came on as a substitute in tame losses to Mexico and Ecuador, and, deployed in the unconventional role of centre-forward, couldn’t help turn around one-goal deficits.

By Rupert Cane

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