Europa League finalists Chelsea have travelled to America to take on New England Revolution in a friendly in Boston.
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, United States
Key Stat: Chelsea are unbeaten in their last seven matches, but they have drawn five of them.
Expert Verdict: Cesar Azpilicueta says Chelsea can take advantage of their friendly with New England Revolution and use it as preparation for the Europa League final. Given Chelsea's season is not yet over, there will not be the typical post-season feeling about this game and the Blues will want a morale-boosting win.
With MLS commitments at the weekend, New England could rotate their players for the game against Chelsea. That may mean a chance for Wilfried Zahibo, Tajon Buchanan, Antonio Mlinar Delamea and Juan Caicedo to earn some redemption, after dropping to the bench at the weekend following the heavy defeat to Chicago Fire.
Carles Gil – His fourth goal of the season at the weekend makes him the Revolution’s top goalscorer so far.
Juan Caicedo – Dropped at the weekend and, after three goals so far this season, may feel he has a point to prove in this friendly.
Juan Agudelo – Two goals in the last four games – either side of the two heavy defeats – have proved his attacking form.
New England put a bad run of form, which had seen them concede 18 goals in their last four games, behind them when they beat San Jose Earthquakes last time out. Juan Agudelo, Cristian Penilla and Carles Gil all scored in a 3-1 New England home win. It put a dreadful week behind the Revolution, after they had lost 5-0 at Chicago Fire and 6-1 at Philadelphia Union in their previous two games.
Defenders:Andrew Farrell, Antonio Delemea Mlinar, Jalil Anibaba, Edgar Castillo
Midfielders:Tajon Buchanan, Scott Caldwell, Wilfried Zahibo, Juan Agudelo
Forwards:Carles Gil, Juan Caicedo
While youngsters such as Marc Guehi, Reece James, Trevoh Chalobah, Conor Gallagher and Ike Ugbo have travelled in the Blues’ 23-man squad, Chelsea otherwise have a near full-strength side available to them. Callum Hudson-Odoi and Antonio Rudiger are injured, while N’Golo Kante is recovering from his thigh injury at home. Gary Cahill has also not travelled, but the remainder of Chelsea’s first-choice squad is in America. It could be a strong team that starts, before they make way for the youngsters later on.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – Hit a bit of form with his goals against Watford and Eintracht Frankfurt and, with N’Golo Kante an injury doubt, will want to prove his worth ahead of the Europa League final.
Gonzalo Higuain – Scored in Chelsea’s last win, against Watford, and the striker – who Maurizio Sarri wants to keep for next season – could lead the line at the start of this friendly.
Eden Hazard – His Chelsea future remains uncertain, but he is with the team in America and there is no doubt the Belgian remains their star player.
Chelsea finished the season unbeaten in seven games, but they only won two of those – drawing five, including both legs of their Europa League semi-final with Eintracht Frankfurt. They won through to the final on penalties in the end, after Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s in the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. Their final league game of the season ended in a goalless draw at Leicester, meanwhile. Chelsea last won at home to Watford, when Loftus-Cheek, David Luiz and Gonzalo Higuain all netted.
Defenders:Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Andreas Christensen, Emerson
Midfielders:Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Matteo Kovacic
Forwards:Eden Hazard, Gonzalo Higuain, Pedro
While there is always a risk when betting on friendlies as to the quality and mindset of the two teams set to play, Chelsea look likely to field a full-strength team in this one.
Even if it just for 45 minutes, the Blues in full flow can take advantage of New England’s porous defence and keep confidence high ahead of the Europa League final.
The Revolution conceded 18 goals in four games before winning at the weekend, and with Eden Hazard, Gonzalo Higuain, Pedro, Willian and Olivier Giroud all in the Chelsea squad, there could be more goals in this one.
At the other end of the pitch, New England do have goalscorers – Carles Gil, Juan Caicedo and Juan Agudelo having all scored recently.
But they also do not do it consistently enough – a top scorer with four goals in 13 games so far this season highlights those issues.
Chelsea will want a good result to get back to winning ways after a couple of draws and to extend their unbeaten run going into this final.
They will also want to put on a show in Boston, to impress the overseas fans and make a big impact in this charity fixture.
If Chelsea put a full-strength team out, and perform as they should, they could win this one quite comfortably.
Chelsea are big favourites to beat New England Revolution in this friendly and can be backed at 7/15 with 10Bet to win.
New England’s defence has been out of sorts and over 3.5 goals in this game returns 5/4 with Betfair and Paddy Power. Chelsea to win and over 3.5 goals returns 21/10.
Even if Chelsea only field a full-strength team early on, meanwhile, you can back them at a best price of 4/9 with Betfair, Bet365 and Paddy Power to score first.
Both teams to score has been set at 1/2 with Paddy Power and Betfair, meanwhile – a sensible price, given the squad rotation likely to happen as the game wears on.
Chelsea want to build momentum ahead of the Europa League final and, while this fixture could have been a typical pedestrian-paced post-season friendly, the strength of the Blues’ squad suggests that will not be the case.