Another step towards readiness for the rigours of the coming campaign has been taken, and this time accompanied by victory and watched by an enthusiastic Chelsea-supporting crowd.
A penalty shoot-out, that went to sudden death after Thibaut Courtois intervened to level it up following Juan Cuadrado’s saved spot-kick, was eventually decided when the big Belgian kept out Thiago Silva’s attempt and immediately got up from denying the Paris St-Germain captain to rifle the deciding kick past his opposite number.
In the preceding 90 minutes on a sticky evening in Charlotte, North Carolina, Victor Moses had equalised after half-time from a fine Cesc Fabregas pass and celebrated with a somersault; Zlatan Ibrahimovic having struck the opener in the first-half for the Parisians.
Naturally, given the pre-season context to the contest, it was the normal-time action Jose Mourinho focused on when speaking afterwards…
‘Paris St-Germain are a good team and they have good players,’ said our manager.
‘They started training a couple of weeks before us, they have already four matches in their legs and they are clearly one step ahead of us in their preparation, so this was a fantastic test for us from the physical point of view. It was very important for us.’
As he develops the fitness of his players, Mourinho only changed three of the team at half-time, having only left three the same at the equivalent stage against New York Red Bulls three days earlier. More changes came later in the second half with just Cesar Azpilicueta playing the full match, making the Spaniard the sole member of the squad with all 180 minutes of pre-season to his name.
Among the substitutes deployed during the second half were those recently returned following Copa America duty, which meant a first Chelsea outing for Falcao who looked lively…
‘That is because he is not so tired as the others,’ explained Mourinho, ‘because he trained two days and the others 10 days and they are accumulating fatigue. Falcao, Willian and Juan Cuadrado are with the sharpness but without the fatigue so they looked good, and it was good for them to play this 20 minutes and it was good for Falcao from the penalty spot to put the ball into the net.’
Mourinho highlighted over-physical play by PSG defender Serge Aurier, with Diego Costa the one suffering…
‘Aurier is not a player who normally plays in the PSG team. Normally they play with Thiago Silva and David Luiz and Marquinhos. So he had a chance, he faced the game like a big game and it was important for him, and he was I too aggressive.
‘For me no problem, I understand football, and Diego behaved tremendously well.’
Such was the quality of the support for his team, with a big percentage of the 60.000 crowd wearing Chelsea shirts, that Mourinho joked if the club does have to move out of Stamford Bridge for redevelopment then they could play a couple of games in Charlotte…
‘The people gave us an atmosphere that is not normal in a friendly match,’ he added.
‘This is a match in which you are not obsessed with the result, you want to train, you make changes in the team because you have a plan for a certain amount of minutes, but the people made it a big atmosphere so thanks a lot for that.
‘It is not easy for a friendly match to bring 60,000 but this was the French champions and English champions, two big clubs with lots of big players.
‘I see the MLS, I see passion and I see the difference in the street,’ he noted on the rise of his sport in the States.
‘When me and my players go for a walk, 10 years ago it was paradise and it is not paradise anymore so I think people know us. The passion is coming and what the US Women did in the World Cup must also be a plus so I think step by step – Kala, Lampard, Gerrard, Raul - these guys must also be important for this. For 11 years I’ve been coming here and every year I come for pre-season I see a difference.’