Beating Barcelona provided a fitting finale to an excellent trip to Japan according to Cesar Azpilicueta, who couldn’t help but be impressed by the performances of Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount on tour.
Azpilicueta had his hands on silverware in the form of the Rakuten Cup after our 2-1 success over the champions from his native Spain. The defender played 70 minutes in Saitama and was satisfied he and his team-mates could enjoy the feeling of victory after a busy week.
‘Even if it’s pre-season you don’t want to lose,’ said Azpilicueta. ‘The last game we didn’t get the result, we conceded a late goal even if the performance was good.
‘There were tough conditions on this trip and with the training sessions but we deserved to win against Barcelona. We played well. We wanted to finish this trip on a high. We have been working hard but obviously you want to win games, and this was a good step forward for the last two weeks before the season starts.
‘We can see the signs of the work we have been doing,’ continued Azpi.
‘Since the beginning we have been working very hard with great intensity in every training session. Every time you start with a new manager you start from zero, and we try to improve every day. That’s what we work for: to improve as a team and as individuals. Hopefully we can prepare well in the last three friendly games before our Premier League season starts.’
They are against Reading this Sunday, and RB Salzburg and Borussia Monchengladbach next week, all away from home. The Championship side from Berkshire will provide familiar opposition to some of our younger players who spent last season on loan in England’s second tier, including Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount. The pair received praise from Frank Lampard following the win over Barcelona, and Azpilicueta was quick to echo his manager’s sentiments regarding their potential.
‘They are two very talented players who had a great path in our Academy. They had great spells on loan last season. The next step is to perform well in the first team at Chelsea.
‘They are Chelsea boys, they dream of having the opportunity in the first team, and hopefully they can keep working the way they have been doing since they came for the first training session.
‘A goal is very important for Tammy,’ added Azpi of the 21-year-old’s opener against Barca.
‘He worked very hard for the team but to score gives that boost to the strikers. With Mason’s work-rate and his passing ability, the only way he can go is forward. I am sure they will both be very important for us.’