The Blues face Inter Milan in Indianapolis later tonight as we open our Guiness International Champions Cup campaign, with Jose Mourinho relishing the prospect of taking on his former club.
The Chelsea manager enjoyed a hugely successful two-year spell in charge at the San Siro, ending his reign by guiding the Italian club to the treble in 2009/10, and it’s a time he looks back on fondly.
‘This will be the first time I’ve seen all of them since the Champions League final,’ he says. ‘May 2010 was the last time I was with them and now I will go to meet them.
‘There are now only six or seven players from my time there but all of the staff are fantastic. I’m very much connected with them so it will be good.
‘But despite it being a friendly we all want to try to win and during the match we forget these feelings, the same way I had to forget when I played Chelsea with Inter, and that was in the Champions League, not just a friendly.’
Mourinho also believes the manner in which Inter play will be a good test for his side following three relatively comfortable victories in Asia.
‘Inter are a good opponent,’ says the Portuguese. ‘Not many teams in England play the way they do; they play with five [at the back], four [in midfield] and one striker.
‘They play strong, direct football and are very good on the counter attack, so it will be a good experience for us.’
Earlier this week, the Blues boss was able to welcome back the six players who played in the Confederations Cup in July, with the squad as a whole undoubtedly bolstered by their return.
However, having been on holiday since the tournament reached its conclusion at the end of June, in terms of fitness they are some way behind the rest of their team-mates, and Mourinho, with one eye on our opening Premier League game against Hull on 15 August, admits they need game time.
‘It’s more difficult because we have two groups of players. We have a group of players who were in Asia and they need to play more than 45 minutes against really good opposition like Inter, Real Madrid and Milan, but the other group haven’t started, they are not ready for that, so it’s not easy,’ he explains.
‘Even in training sessions sometimes we have to split the group because the other guys are not ready for the same kind of work, but they also need to play because they have 15 days until the start of the season.
‘I will try and give more than 45 minutes to the players who can do it and 45 minutes or less to the other group of six players. I will not be so focused on tactics or results, I will be more focused on trying to get the right conditions to start the season.’
Of the players that travelled, only Frank Lampard and Andre Schurrle haven’t trained. According to the manager, though, both should be back in action soon.
‘Frank is recovering but of course we don’t want to take risks,’ says Mourinho. ‘Hopefully he plays this week, I won’t say the second match but maybe the third or fourth.
‘Andre is ill, it’s as simple as that. He has a temperature after Asia but it’s not an injury, he’s just ill, after tomorrow he should be back in training.’