Preseason Fixture: Rapid Wien 2 – 0 Chelsea

Updated: July 22, 2016

Chelsea starting eleven: Begovic, Ivanovic, Djilobodji, Terry (c), Baba Rahman, Mikel, Matic, Loftus-Cheek, Moses, Willian, Diego Costa.

Chelsea fans’ early-season optimism was put to bed by a poor showing in a goalless defeat away, with Conte’s first game in charge showing that it will take time for the team to adapt to a new style of play under a new coach.

The gap between the two sides was evident early on as Rapid dominated possession for the first ten minutes, and took an early lead on eight minutes when a quick string of passes on the edge of Chelsea’s box pulled Djilibodji out of position, leaving space in behind for Joelinton, who calmly finished the move by rounding Begovic.

After ten minutes, Chelsea managed to get a foothold in the game, putting together some extended spells of possession, though they struggled to create chances. Their best moments generally came down the right wing through Moses, who was consistently able to beat his man and get a cross in, even in 1v1 and 2v1 situations. However, Chelsea generally missed the sharp edge and the finishing touch.

The lack of edge showed especially in Diego Costa, who failed to convert chances he would normally bang in. His closest moment came from a Djilibodji ball caressed right onto the penalty spot, from where Costa stunningly headed over the bar, though he had practically an open goal. Diego also flashed a shot from inside the box just wide in the second half, though he had done well to get himself into the postion.

It wouldn’t be fair to be harsh on Costa, though; after all, for much of the game he was chasing the ball. Though the Chelsea players were clearly trying to adhere to Conte’s methods by staying compact and quickly challenging the ball, the quick passing and good movement of Rapid made it tough for them to create ball access. However, the general structure was good, seeing as how Conte has only been in charge for four days, and it’s a safe prediction to make that Chelsea will not be easy to score against next season.

Pre-season is always a good time to watch the fringe players of the team get game time, and today was no different, with Rahman, Djilibodji, Loftus-Cheek, and Moses starting, all of whom were not favoured last season. Djilibodji was the standout of them all, recovering from his early mistake which let in the goal to be a solid presence in defence, as well as on the ball. Moses played well also, as mentioned before. In contrast, Loftus-Cheek and Rahman failed to stand out, which was dissapointing considering they are both contenders for starting spots come the season.

The team still has a lot of work to do, but it wouldn’t be right to make predictions for next season just yet. After all, Rapid have been training for five weeks yet, while Conte only arrived four days ago. They have until Wednesday to prepare for the next game, and it will be interesting to watch the evolution of the team as Conte continues to work, and, of course, star players and new signings join up with the squad.

Until then, the team will be hard at work on the training ground. Hopefully, the result next time out will be a better one.

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