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).