Barcelona 1-2 Chelsea: Five talking points as Tammy Abraham sets Blues on way to win
Chelsea’s tour of the Far East ended with a flourish, as Frank Lampard’s side beat Spanish champions Barcelona 2-1 in Saitama.
Much improved from their defeat to J-League side Kawasaki Frontale, the Premier League side were comfortable winners.
Young striker Tammy Abraham - having missed a glorious early opportunity - handed the Blues the lead in the 34th minute, taking advantage after Jorginho had dispossessed Sergio Busquets and finding the net.
Amid a plethora of second-half changes, England midfielder Ross Barkley staked his claim for a regular starting berth this season, scoring a fine second.
Ivan Rakitic ensured there would be no clean sheet for Lampard’s men in injury time, the Croatian firing home a terrific 25-yard strike.
But it was little more than a consolation, with Chelsea deserved winners in Japan.
1. Barkley set to thrive under Lampard?
As Chelsea’s all-time club record goalscorer, it’s safe to say that Frank Lampard knew about finding the back of the net.
Now can he unlock Ross Barkley’s goal potential?
The England midfielder has never managed double figures in a Premier League season, with eight for Everton in 2015-16 his best return.
Now 25, we aren’t talking about a player with potential any more. We’re talking about someone with eight years of senior first-team experience under his belt.
His goal here was a fine one, starting the attacking move by showing and laying it off round the corner, before getting the return and firing a fine left foot shot past Neto.
He has the quality from a technical aspect that is certain; it has always been about mentality with Barkley.
Lampard was someone who, as a player, got the most from himself. If he’s challenging Barkley to do more and more this term, then he could have a big campaign in west London.
2. Pragmatic Frank
Under Maurizio Sarri, Chelsea became wedded to using a 4-3-3 formation.
Lampard has shown more versatility in that respect thus far during his reign, utilising that shape, a midfield diamond and a 4-2-3-1 so far in pre-season.
It was the latter he went with here, and also an adaptation of approach in terms of how his side pressed their opponents.
Rather than looking to push up on opponents, in the humidity of Saitama, the Blues were happy for Barcelona to come onto them, before pouncing and attempting to counter.
That worked throughout the first period, with the best chances falling to the Premier League side.
3. Quiet debut for Griezmann
In his first appearance for Barcelona following his £107million transfer, Antoine Griezmann was given the opening 45 minutes.
The World Cup winner spearheaded the attack - in the absence of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi - with his compatriot, Ousmane Dembele, in support.
There were some nice touches from the ex-Atletico Madrid man, but little to get excited about.
He was left with a few marks on the inside of his right knee mind, following a studs-up tackle from Jorginho.
4. Abraham makes his mark
The jury remains out over whether he has enough to lead the line for Chelsea as they push for the top four and to challenge for honours.
But if he’s on the scoresheet regularly, then you can’t knock the England Under-21 international.
His goal had a slice of luck about it, but he was in the right place at the right time.
5. Riqui Puig makes his claim
Noticeable in the Barcelona starting midfield - with Frenkie de Jong and Ivan Rakitic both playing the second half - was the name of Riqui Puig.
A slight, 19-year-old midfielder, he was a regular for the B Team last term and made his senior debut in La Liga in April.
With a cultured left foot, lovely technique and a real appreciation for space around him, he was arguably the best player on the field in the opening 45’.
A lot of Barcelona fans have high hopes for the young man from Matadepera, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll be afforded opportunities by Valverde this season.
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