Chelsea will look to ensure they go into the new Premier League season on a high when they round off their preparations for the upcoming campaign with a friendly against Fiorentina at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. The final match of the International Champions Cup will be Chelsea’s only home outing in preseason, and will see the squad presented to the crowd ahead of the campaign’s kickoff. But, while expectations remain sky high, Chelsea’s optimism was dealt a setback on Sunday when going down 1-0 to Arsenal in the Community Shield at Wembley.
Just three days now remain before Chelsea begin their Premier League title defense at home to Swansea City. And manager Jose Mourinho has stated that he expects it to be the start of a tough quest to retain the championship.
“Our direct opponents -- Liverpool, [Manchester] United, [Manchester] City, Arsenal -- their squads are top squads,” he told Sky Sports. “Maybe I am wrong but I have the idea that less points will win the title this season. Other teams are investing very well and this is not normal.
“I look to the next match and see a difficult match against Swansea. I only think about match after match and each one is difficult.”
While there has been notable investment from their rivals, Chelsea have thus far added just two signings during the summer transfer window. And both of them -- goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and striker Radamel Falcao -- have been direct replacements for players who have exited -- Petr Cech and Didier Drogba. With Diego Costa still sidelined, and set to miss the opening game of the season, with a hamstring injury, Falcao may get a chance to impress from the start on Wednesday. The Colombian, who scored just four Premier League goals on loan at Manchester United last season, replaced Loic Remy at halftime in the Community Shield.
While Chelsea will be aiming to bounce back from that loss, their opponents at Stamford Bridge arrive on the back of a morale-boosting preseason win. Fiorentina toppled Spanish and European champions Barcelona in a 2-1 victory in Florence on Sunday, thanks to two early goals from young attacker Federico Bernardeschi. And since that win, the club, which finished fourth in Serie A last season, have added the signing of Italy international defender Davide Astori.
The 28-year-old, who has joined on an initial loan from Cagliari but with an obligation to make the move permanent, hasn’t been included for in the squad for the trip to London. But there could be a first start in a Fiorentina shirt for the club’s biggest signing of the summer -- former Atlético Madrid midfielder Mario Suárez.
Fiorentina, who don’t begin their Serie A season until Aug. 23, have faced a summer of upheaval, having seen the departure of successful coach Vincenzo Montella. In his place has come Portuguese Paulo Sousa, who spent part of his early coaching career in charge of Chelsea’s opening Premier League opponents, Swansea.
Kickoff time: 3 p.m. EDT
TV channel: Fox Sports 1