Back to Budapest

The Groupama Arena, venue for our Europa League fixture with Vidi, is familiar ground to the Blues, with seven members of our squad having helped open the stadium, but where are the rest of the players who featured for us in that game in 2014.

We travelled to the Hungarian capital Budapest in pre-season four years ago to officially open the Groupama Arena with a friendly against a local side, although on that occasion the opponents were its regular tenants Ferencvaros, rather than Vidi, who are just borrowing the venue for European ties.

Of the current Chelsea squad, Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, Andreas Christensen, Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard, Victor Moses and Willian were all involved that day, with Fabregas emerging as the star after coming off the bench to score a brilliant winning goal.

The Spaniard picked up a short throw-in on the right touchline, turned, and took on five defenders single-handedly to weave his way into the box before finishing left-footed at the near post, completing our comeback for a 2-1 win.

The only person who played the full 90 minutes of that friendly with Ferencvaros was defender Kurt Zouma, with former Fulham man Zoltan Gera netting the first goal in the stadium.

The Frenchman is still a Blue, but is spending this season on loan at Everton, where he began as a regular in the heart of their defence but is now battling for a place with Michael Keane and Yerry Mina following the latter’s emergence at the club following a late summer move from Barcelona.

No less than five members of the Chelsea side which beat Ferencvaros are actually competing against us in the Premier League this season. Petr Cech and Nemanja Matic moved directly from Stamford Bridge to Arsenal and Manchester United, in 2015 and 2017 respectively.

Nathan Ake made his switch to Bournemouth permanent the same summer as Matic departed, having impressed with the Cherries while spending the previous campaign on loan at Dean Court.

The other two have taken more circuitous routes to our Premier League rivals. Following his short spell in SW6, mostly spent on loan in Italy, Mohamed Salah found his form following a permanent move to Roma for 2016/17, and returned to England with Liverpool to great success over the last 18 months.

A more recent return to these shores is Andre Schurrle, who won the Premier League title with Chelsea and the World Cup with Germany in his two years as a Blue. He then headed home to the Bundesliga in 2015, first with Wolfsburg and latterly Borussia Dortmund, who loaned him to our local neighbours Fulham for the current campaign.

He had previously impressed in west London derbies, scoring a hat-trick for us at Craven Cottage in 2014, but thankfully couldn’t repeat the trick for the Cottagers as we won 2-0 when we faced them at the Bridge last month.

Two of the members of the 2014 travelling squad to Budapest have since retired, goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer is now working as a television pundit and Chelsea legend Didier Drogba, who went off with an injury early on in the first appearance of his second spell with the club against Ferencvaros, is concentrating on his role as an owner of American side Phoenix Rising.

Brazilian-born duo Filipe Luis and Diego Costa are both now back at the same team they joined us from, Atletico Madrid, where they were team-mates with Fernando Torres before the striker moved to Japan with Sagan Tosu last summer.

Asia, and China in particular, seems to have been a popular post-Chelsea destination for players in that team, with three now competing in that country. Ramires, who got our equaliser in Budapest with a fine half-volley from the edge of the box, is now at Jiangsu Suning, where he is competing against Oscar’s Shanghai SIPG and a Tianjin TEDA side featuring John Mikel Obi.

Last but not least is another of that Chelsea team’s serial winners, Branislav Ivanovic. The Serbian international defender went back to Russia when his time at the Bridge came to an end in January 2017, now frequently captaining Zenit St Petersburg, having joined us from Lokomotiv Moscow.