With the 2014/15 Premier League season only three weeks away, Jose Mourinho will be looking for the Chelsea squad to increase in intensity against Slovenian side NK Olimpija Ljubljana. The Blues fought out a 1-1 draw in their previous game against RZ Pellets WAC, and will be hoping to regain even more match sharpness in Sunday’s friendly. It will also be a chance for Chelsea’s younger players to impress the manager before the rest of the senior squad joins up with the team.
Having decided on the futures of some Chelsea youngsters – Lucas Piazon going on loan to Eintracht Frankfurt and Patrick van Aanholt being sold to Sunderland – the Club and the Manager will be using this game to take a further look at players such as Izzy Brown, Jeremie Boga, and Lewis Baker, with the latter in particular looking ready to take the next step in his career.
So far it has felt like a particularly important pre-season tour for one player in particular. Marco Van Ginkel, the 21-year-old Dutch centre-mid has played in each of Chelsea’s pre-season games and has impressed with his composure and range of passing, but he knows he needs to keep knocking hard at the door with players such as Nemanja Matic, John Obi Mikel, Ramires and, of course, Cesc Fabregas looking to cement a spot in Chelsea’s midfield. Due to his hard-work after missing the majority of last season through injury, however, Van Ginkel has looked one of the most ‘ready-to-go’ out of all of Chelsea’s squad.
After saying that Chelsea’s summer transfer business was over, Mourinho then proceeded to sign club legend Didier Drogba. The veteran striker, who needs no introduction, will no doubt provide some valuable experience to Chelsea’s strike-force, but will most likely be used in an attempt to get the most out of Romelu Lukaku, provided the Belgian remains at Stamford Bridge. It is unlikely that Didier will feature on Sunday, however, as he will not have had time to link up with the squad and train, and Mourinho will want to see more of Patrick Bamford and co.
Chelsea’s opposition on Sunday, NK Olimpija Ljubljana, finished the previous season seventh out of ten in Slovenia’s top flight of football. The club are technically only nine years old, as in 2004 they went bankrupt and dissolved as a club, before being founded as NK Bežigrad in 2005, and eventually changing their name back to NK Olimpija Ljubljana. Each season they contest a game dubbed ‘The Eternal Derby’ against their biggest rivals and the most well-known of all Slovenian clubs, Maribor. Olimpija, or ‘The Dragons’, play their home games at the Stadion Stožice, which has a capacity of nearly