Chelsea Football Club is delighted to announce a second match in Japan this summer – against Barcelona in Saitama.
We will meet the Spanish champions, who this week qualified for the Champions League semi-finals, on Tuesday 23 July as part of the Rakuten Cup, four days after we play J. League champions Kawasaki Frontale in Yokohama.
It will be a historic meeting between European teams in Japan, offering local fans the opportunity to see two of the biggest teams in the world compete at one of the country’s finest venues. The Saitama Stadium has a capacity of almost 64,000 and hosted several games at the 2002 World Cup, including Brazil’s semi-final win over Turkey.
Barça, who lead La Liga again this season, possess some of the world’s finest players, including five-time Ballon D’Or winner Lionel Messi.
Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck said: ‘We are incredibly excited to announce this match against Barcelona and our participation in the Rakuten Cup, which promises to be an exciting showcase for Japanese football fans.
‘It is a huge honour for Chelsea to play in this historic game, and we would like to thank Rakuten for its role as special sponsor of the match and the J. League for hosting it. I am sure it will be a fantastic experience and we anticipate a great contest against Barcelona, with whom we have enjoyed a healthy and competitive rivalry in recent years.
‘This second fixture, following our match against Kawasaki Frontale, offers us further opportunity to demonstrate our successful partnership with The Yokohama Rubber Company in their home country and we look forward to confirming further plans in the coming months.’
Barcelona will also face Japanese side Vissel Kobe as part of the three-team tournament, which it is hoped will inspire the next generation of domestic talent.
Mickey Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, Inc., said: ‘As partners of FC Barcelona and as presenters of this tournament, we are incredibly proud to be able to bring these two legendary clubs to Japan.
‘The tournament will give fans in Japan the opportunity to see some of the world’s top soccer clubs play in the country. We hope the games will raise the level and profile of the J.League globally, and we are excited about inspiring the next generation of soccer talent in Japan.’
The Blues have a fascinating rivalry with Barca, dating back to 1966. We were eliminated by Ernesto Valverde’s side in Europe last season, but famously beat them en route to lifting the 2012 Champions League. Didier Drogba's goal which can be watched below was scored on this day seven years ago.
Our men’s team was last in Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup in December 2012, with Chelsea Women visiting a year later.
Kick-off time and ticket information for our two Japanese matches will be announced in due course.