TEAM NEWS: CHELSEA V REAL MADRID

The main team news ahead of the Guinness International Champions Cup final is that Jose Mourinho hands a first start of pre-season to Frank Lampard, who plays alongside Ramires and Marco van Ginkel in midfield.

John Terry partners Gary Cahill in the centre of defence, with Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole given the nod in full-back positions.

Romelu Lukaku starts up front, flanked by Oscar and Eden Hazard.

Chelsea are expected to line up in the following 4-3-3 formation:

1.Cech
2.Ivanovic
24.Cahill
26.Terry (c)
3.Cole
7.Ramires
16.Van Ginkel
8.Lampard
11.Oscar
18.Lukaku
17.Hazard

Real Madrid are expected to line up in the following 4-3-3 formation:

Casillas (c); Arbeloa, Laveran, Ramos, Marcelo; Khedira, Modric, Alarcon; Ronaldo, Benzema. Ozil.

MOURINHO: FOCUSED ON OURSELVES

Jose Mourinho believes the wealth of attacking options at Real Madrid’s disposal will ensure we are faced with the sternest of tests defensively in the final of the Guinness International Champions Cup.

The Portuguese leads the Blues into battle against his former club at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami tonight, hoping to secure the first trophy of his second spell at the helm.

The game, which also sees us renew acquaintances with Carlo Ancelotti, pits two of Europe’s most talented teams against each other, and having only recently swapped the Bernabeu for Stamford Bridge, Mourinho is better placed than most to identify where Madrid’s biggest threat will come from.

‘They are difficult and different to the other teams,’ he says. ‘They have a culture of play that is difficult to stop. From an offensive point of view, Real are very direct, but at the same time very creative and fast.

‘It’s a big challenge for us in terms of our defensive work but we want to play, we don’t want to go there and be too worried about them because they are not in the Premier League with us, and if we face them in the Champions League we will have enough time for that, so we are more focused on our team.

‘We will try some new things, different combinations, try to give the boys some confidence and play a good game.

‘I’m more concerned about the future and the matches which give us points, but we’re playing in an important tournament, in a final, with lots of people and big expectations, so we want to do well.’

So far, we have impressed over the course of our two games in the competition, comfortably seeing off both Milan-based sides.

Inter were put to the sword first in Indianapolis, with the Blues running out 2-0 winners courtesy of goals from Oscar and Eden Hazard, with their city rivals AC beaten by the same scoreline in New Jersey on Sunday thanks to strikes from Kevin De Bruyne and Andre Schurrle.

Some players came away from the win over Massimiliano Allegri’s side feeling the effects of a poor playing surface, but on the whole, Mourinho has been pleased with how our pre-season has gone up to now.

‘They are fine, the pitch was difficult, it was very slow,’ he explains. ‘The players were a bit tired, even the ones who played 90 minutes last time, but that’s why we gave them a recovery session.

‘Now, we are not working so hard because this is the start of an accumulation of everything, so we need to take care of them.

‘Basically, we’ve worked on tactical coaching and trying to prepare the players for anything that can happen during the season. When we were preparing for the game against Inter, and playing against three defenders, it wasn’t just for Inter, it was for the future, so if we play against a team with three [defenders] we know what to do.

‘We have two more matches to go and I think this pre-season has been very good, in sports terms and in social terms.

‘We have some very young boys, but young boys with good talent. We can look to a good future even though the present is very good. The kids give a balance to the squad but also security for the future.’

With only two more friendlies to play before we start the new Premier League season against Hull City, the manager is eager to ensure everybody plays the required number of minutes.

Our final two games of the US trip will provide Mourinho with an opportunity to assess his options further ahead of the match against Steve Bruce’s side, while he also hopes to give some much-needed game time to both Frank Lampard and David Luiz.

‘Frank is ready to play 30-45 minutes,’ says the Blues boss. ‘He needs that because he hasn’t played one minute of pre-season, so it’s important for him to play some now and some against Roma.

‘We won’t risk David Luiz [against Madrid], but Roma is the last match of pre-season before the season starts, so I think he needs to play against Roma, but if he’s not able to he’s not able to.’

You can watch the game against Real Madrid live on Chelsea TV, with coverage beginning at 1.45am (UK time).

TORRES: NICE TO BE BACK

Last season was the longest in Chelsea’s history, with 69 competitive games played in eight different competitions, and for some, the campaign was extended still further by international duty and the Confederations Cup, which came a year after Euro 2012.

It was not until the beginning of July, when most of his club team-mates were preparing to report back for pre-season duties, that Fernando Torres and his colleagues who had played in Brazil finally had the chance for a prolonged break from the game. It was, Torres says, a much-needed one but he is now back with excitement at what is to come.

‘It was a really long, hard season with a lot of ups and downs for the team, and with the national team, so I had a great time resting with the family away from football,’ the 29-year-old, who lifted the tournament Golden Boot in South America, says. ‘I don’t remember the last time I had four weeks off in a summer so it was great and now I am fully prepared for the season, which should be a good one for all of us.

‘You enjoy your holidays and rest, but I was also looking at the website to see how Chelsea were doing, following the games in Asia, seeing about the new signings, and it’s nice to be back and part of the team now, with a new manager and some new players.

‘Everyone is giving everything to be in the manager’s plans. For me, pre-season is a nice time, I like the feeling of finishing training tired, with heavy legs and pain everywhere. It’s a nice feeling.’

Those who have seen him train in the 10 days or so since he returned from his holidays have noticed a sharpness to the forward’s game and a determination to impress new manager Jose Mourinho, but the player himself believes there is plenty more hard graft needed to catch up with the rest of the squad.

‘From the first day until now training has been great, high intensity, very fun, and so you are working hard but using the ball in every exercise, so it’s very good,’ he says, relaxing in the team’s Washington DC hotel after a tough session. ‘It’s good everyone is involved together, and the manager and his assistants do small things to make you enjoy the sessions.

‘From this you can see everyone is giving everything. Everyone wants play in the first 11, so people are working even harder than even in the middle of the season when they know if they are playing regularly or not. Everyone is playing well, the manager is mixing everybody well, making everyone sharp for competition. We only have two more games until the first Premier League game, and so far everyone is looking great.

‘Some of us are behind but we are trying to get fit as soon as possible. It’s difficult for us guys from the Confederations Cup to fit into the team now because the other guys have had 22 days more than us,’ Torres continues. ‘In pre-season that’s a huge difference and you can see they are much fitter than us, so we have to work even harder to fit in because the season is right there, in two weeks’ time. We have to be ready for that and we know how important it is to start well.’

Tonight we face Real Madrid in our penultimate pre-season game, with only Roma to come on Saturday before we meet Hull City in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday, August 18.

Meeting Real still means a lot to Torres, a former Atletico Madrid captain and supporter.

‘It is always a big game for me. I grew up in a city where Real was the biggest team, one of the biggest in the world. We were always in the shadow of Real Madrid so I know what it is like,’ he says, his face becoming focused and serious.

‘I never beat them playing for Atletico, it was nearly 15 years without beating them until the last Copa Del Rey. I had the chance to beat them with Liverpool, and this is the third time I will play them after leaving Spain, so even though it is a friendly to me it is very important and I know a lot of Atletico fans want us to win, to see that Real lost, and even more if I am playing on the other team.’

Tonight’s game is live on Chelsea TV, and also available online to viewers in the UK and Ireland. Click here to find out more…

TRIO LOOKING FORWARD TO REAL TEST

Three Chelsea players have spoken of their excitement ahead of facing Real Madrid in Miami on Wednesday.

We meet the Spanish side, and our former manager Carlo Ancelotti, at the Sun Life Stadium in the Guinness International Champions Cup final on Wednesday night, in our most prestigious pre-season game so far.

Among the various sub-plots are of course Jose Mourinho facing his former team, where he spent three years before returning to Stamford Bridge in June, while Juan Mata also looks ahead to a reunion with the club where he began his career.

Mata started out as a striker with Real, before being allowed to leave for Valencia in 2007 and subsequently arriving in west London four years later.

‘It will be very special for me to play against Real Madrid, a very important team to me in my career,’ said the 25-year-old.

‘I hope the fans will enjoy the game in Miami, which I think will be very exciting, and that we can lift the trophy in the final to make them happy.’

Ashley Cole is looking forward to renewing both rivalries and friendships down in Florida, as he prepares for a first meeting with Real in his illustrious career, after missing Arsenal’s Champions League victory at the Bernabeu in 2006 due to injury.

‘It will be great to catch up with Carlo Ancelotti, who is a great guy. We loved working with him at Chelsea and hopefully he can have a good first season in Spain,’ said the England defender.

‘Real Madrid will be a huge test for us, they’re obviously one of the best teams in the world and I’ve had some good games with Cristiano Ronaldo down the years, so I hope this will be another exciting match.’

Eden Hazard is another who is yet to face Los Merengues, and looks forward to testing himself against world-class opposition.

‘It’s a big game for me as I’m a young player, and it’s very exciting,’ said the 22-year-old. ‘Real Madrid is a massive club and they have a number of quality players with the likes of Ronaldo and Kaka.

‘This will be the first time I’ve played against them and it will be a big game, not just for the players but also the fans, and hopefully we can win the match.’

SCHURRLE STARS IN NEW MAGAZINE

The new-look Chelsea magazine returns for the 2013/14 season this week, featuring interviews with Jose Mourinho, Marco van Ginkel, Mark Schwarzer and cover star Andre Schurrle.

In an action-packed edition, Germany international Schurrle explains just how much it means to him to pull on the Chelsea shirt, having been the proud owner of a replica Frank Lampard shirt not so long ago.

‘It was my dream to come here,’ the 22-year-old says. ‘I always wanted to play in another country, especially in the Premier League, because I watched so many matches when Michael Ballack came to Chelsea. He and Lampard were my idols at that time, so it was a dream – and now it’s come true.

‘As a kid, I had a Chelsea shirt with Lampard’s name on it. So, after I signed here, my mum said to me, “When you were young, you were always running around with your Lampard shirt on and now he is your team-mate!”

‘I knew I wanted to come to Chelsea, so I watched almost every match they played last season. It was a strong finish and getting third place was very important to the club because it means we are in the Champions League and we don’t have to go through the qualifiers.’

Chelsea Magazine - Andre Schurrle

Schurrle is also no stranger to Stamford Bridge having made his debut in Europe’s premier competition there in 2011, shortly after signing for Bayer Leverkusen and linking up with Ballack, who played for us for four years between 2006 and 2010. Chelsea were 2-0 victors that night.

‘That was my first Champions League match, when we played at Stamford Bridge,’ he says, recalling the evening. ‘It was really great, with this stadium in the middle of the city and the fact that it was Ballack’s first game back after leaving – the fans were fantastic and they gave him so much applause. It was a great experience for me, but it wasn’t such a good match for my club at the time because we lost!’

New to the Premier League, Schurrle is a name it may take a little while for fans to learn, though he will be hoping he can make an instant impact. Another of our new signings has no such concerns. Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has been at the top level in England for the best part of 15 years, and was delighted to sign just before our summer tour of Asia.

Chelsea Magazine - Mark-Schwarzer

‘I think it is a prime example of the fact that you can never say never,’ he tells Chelsea. ‘As your career moves into the later stages, you start to think that maybe you will never get the opportunity to play at such a big club and, in my case, the move has probably come at a time when people would say I am reaching the end of my career. So, it is hugely exciting to be part of a club of this magnitude – I am extremely excited about being here and the opportunities that lie ahead.

‘I am looking forward to getting the chance to work with the team and playing my part. Obviously, Petr [Cech] is a fantastic goalkeeper and the number one goalkeeper at Chelsea, but I am here to help push him along; he will hopefully push me along and help the younger keepers at the club as well. I’m very excited about the challenges ahead. Of course, I’m also excited to have the opportunity to work with such a fantastic manager.’

That manager is Mourinho, and this month he answers your questions for the first time since returning to the club, responding to queries sent in via Twitter. If you would like to submit a question to him, simply send a tweet to @chelseafc using #CFCMag and each month this season we will pick our favourites to put to the Portuguese.

Elsewhere in this month’s Chelsea, our other new signing Marco van Ginkel introduces himself to Blues supporters as he discusses his move from Vitesse Arnhem and his aims for both present and future.

Looking back to the recent past, we also speak to Petr Cech in a new feature where the goalkeeper discusses the biggest games of his career, while former Chelsea midfielder Gavin Peacock discusses his time in SW6.

For another year, Chelsea is priced at just £3.25, and as well as all the above, includes all the latest news and views from around the Bridge, including the Academy and Ladies teams, and is in stores now!