CHELSEA’s preparations for Monday’s season opener against Burnley have taken them to six different countries, and Jose Mourinho goes into tonight’s final friendly against Real Sociedad insisting the Blues will be more than ready for their trip to Turf Moor.
While Chelsea usually jet off to the United States or Asia for lucrative pre-season warm-up matches, this summer Mourinho opted to prepare for their first Premier League match against the Clarets with a list of friendlies dotted around Europe.
Organised in conjunction with their pre-season partners Match IQ, it has seen them play games in Austria, Slovenia, the Netherlands, Germany, Turkey and Hungary, in what must be one of the most cosmopolitan pre-season’s in history.
Chelsea’s preparations for the new campaign have however been hampered by delays in the return of a number of their stars following the World Cup, which only finished on July 13.
While Burnley did not have a single player involved in the World Cup, 14 of Chelsea’s current squad travelled to Brazil for the tournament.
Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas, Fernando Torres, Cesar Azpilicueta, Didier Drogba and Gary Cahill did not make it past the group phase but Andre Schurrle, Oscar, Willian, Ramires, Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses all reached the knockout stages Similar problems decimated Manchester City’s squad as they lost 3-0 to Arsenal in the Community Shield on Sunday, and Mourinho admits some of Chelsea’s players are still getting up to speed.
“It’s been a difficult pre-season because we started with seven players,” he said.
“After that, step by step, players were arriving after the World Cup and holidays.
“Finally, in this last week we’ve had everybody together but obviously not everyone is prepared.
“For example, Ivanovic has been training for one month, Schurrle has trained for five days, so there is a big difference between players.
“We have to play the first league match next weekend and we will be ready for that.”
The Blues take on Sociedad at Stamford Bridge tonight after beating Ferencvaros 2-1 in Budapest on Sunday night thanks to goals from Ramires and new signing Fabregas.
Drogba, however, limped off with an ankle injury and his fitness will now be assessed ahead of the Burnley match.
The Blues had started pre-season with a 5-0 win at Wycombe Wanderers before triumphing 3-2 at AFC Wimbledon. From there they followed Burnley’s lead by travelling to Austria for a week-long training camp near Klagenfurt, around 100 kilometres west of the Clarets’ own base.
Chelsea drew 1-1 with local side RZ Pellets before moving on to Slovenia with a 2-1 win over Olimpija Ljubljana.
Then came a trip across Europe to the Netherlands where they defeated Vitesse Arnhem 3-1.
A 3-0 loss at Werder Bremen in Germany provided some cause for concern, before the Blues travelled to Istanbul for an unusual evening when they played 90 minutes of football – 45 against Fenerbahce and 45 against Besiktas.
They beat Fenerbahce 2-0 before losing 1-0 to Besiktas.