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.’