Chelsea’s second pre-season game saw them line up against the Malaysia XI in Kuala Lumpur, in which the London club eventually came out of 4-1 winners.
In a humid and hot atmosphere, Jose Mourinho fielded two almost completely different teams for the first and second half. By half-time Chelsea were already 3-0 leaders, with the game eventually finishing 4-l, the Malaysia XI picking up a headed goal in the dying minutes.
Jose Mourinho’s first half team selection was: Schwarzer; Ivanovic, Chalobah, Terry, Bertrand; Essien, Marco van Ginkel; Traore, De Bruyne, Hazard; Lukaku.
Chelsea started brightly, which saw Lukaku’s low left-footed shot from the edge of the area blocked by the keeper, with the team taking the lead just a minute later. A delightful through-ball down the right flank from Traore to De Bruyne allowed the Belgian to play the ball into box back to Traore who finished neatly into the bottom right-hand corner.
Indeed Traore was noticeably hungry to impress, and in the ninth minute after the ball was deflected into his path he hit a low shot from outside of the area that was just saved by the keeper. Soon after the 17 year-old went for goal again, this time from around 45 yards as he tried to beat the keeper with a dipping half-volly that eventually fell just over the bar.
After some attacking threat from the Malaysia XI that saw them miss by inches following a goal-mouth scramble, it was De Bruyne who provided the moment of the match, for both the right and wrong reasons.
A long kick from Schwarzer fell to Lukaku who nodded the ball into the path of the running De Bruyne who almost broke the goal with a rocket-like shot that flew into the roof of the net with the keeper helpless.
However, what was initially a moment of sheer wonder soon turned to dread, as the camera quickly switched over the image of De Bruyne holding his knee making obvious gestures that his match was over. The concern on the bench and field was evident, with the whole of the Chelsea team immediately surrounding him.
After a short stoppage in which De Bruyne was stretchered off to be replaced by Islam Feruz, Chelsea continued to put pressure on the Malaysia defence, with Hazard coming close soon after the restart. It was the other Belgian, Lukaku, who provided the third goal though, with a neat left-footed finish into the bottom right hand corner after being put through one-on-one.
The Chelsea second half XI looked like this: Cech; Cole, Cahill, Kalas, Wallace; Van Ginkel, Ramires; Schurrle, Hazard, Moses; Ba
The second half was quieter overall. Schurrle and Ba both tested the keeper from distance early on, but both shots were straight at him. Hazard came close again after 10 minutes of play with an uncharacteristic header that fell just wide of the post.
It was Victor Moses who grabbed Chelsea fourth in the 88th, after bursting down the left hand side, cutting in and playing a low driven shot that was turned into the net by the goalkeeper.
Chelsea could not keep hold of their clean sheet however as the Malaysia XI scored in injury time. Petr Cech spilled a cross from a free kick, conceded by Wallace, which was pounced upon by one of the many attacking opposition who headed the ball neatly into the goal.
Overall it was a dominant performance from Chelsea, as was to be expected, with many positives to be taken out of it.
Kevin De Bruyne
This match will in many ways be remembered for the 30 minutes of Kevin De Bruyne. He was outstanding and was involved in everything that Chelsea attacked with, getting a goal and an assist before his unfortunate departure. His goal was world class, but it was certainly not worth what looked like it might be a terrible knee injury. Since the match though there have been reports that the injury is not thought to be as bad as first feared, and De Bruyne was even able to walk up and receive his medal and leave the stadium by foot. On Monday he boarded a plane leaving for England to assess the damage in more detail.
The 17 year-0ld lad from Burkina Faso is already a full international player, yet he is only on trial at Chelsea. The club has pursued him since 2011 and Mourinho has confirmed that they plan to officially sign him. They should do too, because he put in an extremely impressive performance given his age and the fact that he is only on trial. He had many inspired moments, including his goal which was a move that he both started and ended, but he also showed signs of immaturity or perhaps nervousness. He did very well overall however. It is likely that if he is signed he will have to go out on loan as there are issues in obtaining a work permit for him in the UK. It’s doubtful that this will be a problem for Chelsea though, since loaning youth is central to their current youth policy.
Many of the Chelsea fans’ eyes will be on Josh McEachran, who was once seen as the certain future of Chelsea’s midfield. Having come through the youth ranks in a strong fashion though, he has failed to make an impact on loan or at the club, despite a few pleasing first team appearances. He did, however, play well in the second half of this match, spreading and retaining the ball extremely well. It was a good start to a season that could potentially be make or break for the youngster, and it is yet to be seen whether he will go out on loan again (although some reports suggest he will).
Going by his two performances in pre-season and his form at West Brom last year (as well as his fantastic attitude and work-ethic) it seems likely that Lukaku will go into the season ahead of Ba in the selection order. Torres is yet to meet with the team and will return once the tour heads to America, but Mourinho has already spoken of the fact that Lukaku could quite possibly begin the season as first choice striker. He confidently stepped up to the score a penalty against the Singha all stars, and he grabbed an assist and an open-play goal in this 45 minutes too. Add that to two great performances and you would question why Chelsea might spend £30 million or more on Wayne Rooney.