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Cesar Azpilicueta finds the positives in first Japan game and discusses opportunities for youngsters at Chelsea

Cesar Azpilicueta saw a number of positives in Friday’s game against Kawasaki Frontale, despite Chelsea succumbing to a late winner in Yokohama.

The Blues were playing the first of two matches in Japan having arrived from London on Tuesday afternoon, and experienced an intense 90 minutes against the J.League champions, who are in the midst of their regular season.

‘Obviously we are disappointed with the result, but we knew we were facing a tough team,’ Azpilicueta said afterwards. ‘For moments in the game we played well, we are improving and trying to replicate what the manager wants from us in the training sessions. They pressed us a lot and tried to play attacking football. They showed a great level.’
 

It is a level of fitness the Chelsea players are still working towards, with the majority a maximum of just 10 days into pre-season. We have three more days of training before facing Barcelona in Saitama on Tuesday.

‘We will look at the game, it’s a period to improve for the beginning of the season,’ explained Azpilicueta, who played the first 45 minutes in Yokohama.

‘We play against Barcelona on Tuesday, we take every game step by step and will try to improve together.

‘It’s a game against a big team who has a lot of quality. We will try to prepare in the best way. We will work for the fitness and the way we want to play in the game.’
 

Among the summer’s positives so far are the number of young players being looked at by Frank Lampard. Mason Mount and Kenedy were both impressive at times here, while Christian Pulisic made his first Chelsea appearance, coming on with 25 minutes to go. Azpilicueta sees good times ahead for this young crop of Blues.

‘Obviously in my position I will try to help the manager and the young players when they come to the first team,’ said the current club captain. ‘We are lucky, we have the best Academy in England. The staff have worked with a lot of young players in a successful way. My target is to help them get comfortable as soon as possible, to play as they did in the past in the Academy or on loan. Hopefully they can because we have some very talented players and a bright future.’
 

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