There are plenty of friendlies taking place across the globe this week as teams step up their 2018 World Cup preparations.
Five teams who have already booked their spot at the tournament in Russia next summer were in action early on Friday with Brazil, Serbia and South Korea all grabbing wins.
Below is a roundup of the games which took place, with plenty of other international friendlies to come in the next few days.
Japan 1-3 Brazil
The Seleceao were purring in Lille, France as Neymar scored from the penalty spot early on (with the help of VAR giving a decision against Southampton and Japan defender Maya Yoshida) but the PSG star then missed a second spot kick in the first half. Not to worry as Marcelo smashed home to make it 2-0 and and Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus finished off a flowing team move to make it 3-0 before half time. Japan pulled a goal back in the second half through Tomoaki Makino but Brazil dominated as they now face England at Wembley next Tuesday. Japan face Belgium in Brugge on Tuesday.
South Korea 2-1 Colombia
Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son scored twice for South Korea as they beat much-fancied Colombia in Suwon. Cristian Zapata pulled a goal back for a strong Los Cafeteros side who had James Rodriguez and Davinson Sanchez in the starting lineup, plus Carlos Bacca and Edwin Cardona jumped off the bench with Juan Cuadrado an unused sub. Colombia travel to Chongqing to face China on Tuesday.
China 0-2 Serbia
Torino’s Adem Ljajic opened the scoring for managerless Serbia in Guangzhou and Newcastle’s Aleksandar Mitrovic made it 2-0 in the second half. Serbia play against South Korea in Ulsan on Tuesday. Good preparations for Serbia ahead of their first appearance at a World Cup since 2010.
Don’t expect the same this time around, as most of those key and sated pieces are no longer at Stamford Bridge and now-manager Antonio Conte has bought the sort of stars who will demand hard work every day from nearly every competition on the pitch.
How will Chelsea fare this go ’round? Read on…
Best, worst case scenarios – Well the best-case is quite literally a quadruple. Chelsea has the depth to contend in every possible competition from the League and FA Cups to the Premier League to the UEFA Champions League. The worst case sees the Blues hit hard by injuries en route to a 6th or 7th place finish and the Europa League, but even this would require an extended UCL run to test said depth.
Star player:Eden Hazard — Sure there’s a good chance that Alvaro Morata will supplant him, and N'Golo Kante is more important to the side, but there was no more electric attacker in the league than Hazard last season as he returned to form (and probably motivation). Antonio Conte deploys him in a way that encourages his participation at both ends of the pitch without burning his potential to simply destroy defenses via direct play or possession.
Coaches’ Corner: Antonio Conte — The Italian has a new bumper deal to go with his PL title, and has certainly pushed some questionable buttons in casting Diego Costa to the curb and sanctioning the sales of some intriguing young prospects like Nathan Ake. That said, those dollars in have helped fund big buys of Bakayoko, Rudiger, and Morata, who could be at Stamford Bridge for close to a decade. If we have one thing to ask, though, it’s that he allow us more Willian time.
PST predicts: In the Top Four for both the Premier League and Champions League (meaning a semifinal or better). As wild as it is to speculate, we believe Chelsea may be better money to win the European crown than the Premier League honors.
Chelsea has completed its first summer signing, grabbing veteran goalkeeper Willy Caballero from Manchester City on a free transfer.
Caballero served as a backup for most of his City career, playing second-fiddle first to Joe Hart and then to Claudio Bravo, but earned plenty of first-team action both in Cup action and also during stretches where each first-teamer was benched for poor performances. Overall, Caballero made 48 appearances for City since arriving from Malaga in 2014.
With the presence of Bravo at City plus the arrival of Ederson to challenge the Chilean for his first-choice position, there was no place for Caballero at the Etihad.
The 35-year-old Argentinian will likely again serve as a backup at Chelsea, with Thibaut Courtois firmly entrenched in the first-team role. Last season Asmir Begovic backed up Courtois, but he was sold to Bournemouth this summer. Begovic only earned eight appearances for the Blues last season across all competitions, but that was skewed slightly due to the lack of European competition.
There were reports that Newcastle United was interested in bringing Caballero in to be their starting goalkeeper, including from Lee Ryder of Newcastle paper The Chronicle, but he has chosen to join the defending champions instead.
Chelsea has done most of its early business on the outgoing end this summer, netting nearly $82 million on the sale of players such as Nathan Ake, Juan Cuadrado, Bertrand Traore, and Begovic.