Chelsea’s mini-tour of the Far East begins on Friday with a match against Kawasaki Frontale.
Frank Lampard’s side have played a couple of friendlies in Ireland so far this summer, drawing with Bohemians and then defeating St Patrick’s Athletic 4-0, but they should face sterner opposition against the J-League outfit.
Frontale currently lie third in the J-League, having lost just one of their first 18 matches of the season, and will want to make a strong impression against the Premier League side, who will place Barcelona in four days.
|Game||Kawasaki Frontale vs Chelsea|
|Date||Friday, July 16|
|Time||11:00am BST / 6:00am ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be streamed via chelseafc.com or The 5th Stand app.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|n/a||chelseafc.com / The 5th Stand|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be streamed via chelseafc.com.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|n/a||chelseafc.com / The 5th Stand|
Squads & Team News
|Position||Kawasaki Frontale squad|
|Goalkeepers||Jung, Arai, H. Mawatari|
|Defenders||Taniguchi, Jesiel, Fitzgerald, Kurumaya, Noborizato, K. Mawatari, Maguinho|
|Midfielders||Morita, Tanaka, Harada, Oshima, Shimoda, Ade, Issaka, Saito, Hasegawa, Ienaga, Yamamura, Nakamura, Wakisaka|
|Forwards||Damiao, Kobayashi, Chinen|
Tatsuki Nara missed Kawasaki’s thumping 3-0 win over Tokyo on Sunday and will sit out once again along with Eisuke Fujishima and Shunsuke Ando.
Ryota Oshima is also a doubt.
|Goalkeepers||Kepa, Caballero, Cumming|
|Defenders||Azpilicueta, Zappacosta, Zouma, Ampadu, Alonso, Christensen, David Luiz, Emerson, Tomori|
|Midfielders||Kovacic, Kante, Jorginho, Drinkwater, Barkley, Bakayoko, Kenedy, Mount, Palmer, Gilmour, Pulisic|
|Forwards||Pedro, Batshuayi, Giroud, Abraham|
Chelsea welcome Christian Pulisic into their squad for the first time, while N’Golo Kante is back after a slight concern over his knee.
The Blues have not picked Ethan Ampadu in their squad to travel as the club seeks to find him a loan move for the season to allow him greater first-team opportunities.
Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Antonio Rudiger all remain injured, although they are said to be making good progress back towards fitness.
Willian is out with knee trouble.
Chelsea starting XI: Caballero; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Zouma, Alonso; Kovacic, Jorginho, Mount; Pedro, Batshuayi, Kenedy
Substitutes: Cumming, Zappacosta, Christensen, Emerson, Tomori, Drinkwater, Barkley, Pulisic, Palmer, Bakayoko, Giroud
Betting & Match Odds
Chelsea are priced as 1/3 favourites with Bet365. Kawasaki Frontale are 7/1 to record an upset, while the draw is 7/2.
Frank Lampard takes charge of his third game with the Blues, with the club’s record scorer taking his team to tackle back-to-back J-League champions Kawasaki Frontale.
With a transfer ban hovering over the club, there is little distraction from the transfer market this summer, giving the new boss the opportunity to focus on finding the best personnel and system in the squad he has been left with.
Lampard is not daunted by that challenge, though it does make matches like Friday’s all the more important to the development of his plans.
“My job is to have absolute belief in the players and that’s what training has started to give me,” he explained. “I can see quality and attitude through the squad.
“When you know where you’re at it absolutely homes in what is important: the club together, players, staff and fans, giving everything to improve daily, to improve game by game. It helps my focus.
“When we have the ball, I want to move the ball quickly and create chances to win games and to play football we enjoy. That’s my job now.”
In their first tour of Japan since 2012, Chelsea will also face Barcelona in what is the main event, though they should not underestimate the quality of the side they are faced with at the Nissan Stadium.
Kawaski are riding high once again in the J-League, sitting third having lost only a single match all season, and have a selection of potent offensive options, including Brazil international forward Leandro Damiao, who has notched five goals in 11 outings this season.
Indeed, Frontale are undefeated in all competitions since a 1-0 Asian Champions League loss to Ulsan in April – a run of 16 matches.
With their season in full flow, this match could not have come at a better time for them to prove their quality to a worldwide audience.