It was a busy day for the Blues on Thursday, meeting thousands of Japanese fans while enduring two tough training sessions...
Training on Thursday morning was tough, split between rigorous fitness work in humid conditions and competitive games taking place in roughly two-thirds of the pitch. The emphasis in the games, contested between the blue and orange bibs, was on switching the play quickly to create space down the flanks.
Frank Lampard and his assistants took it in turn to oversee each game with the remaining assistants watching closely from the sidelines. There was plenty of effort and quality on display, and a much-needed ice bath at the end of 90 minutes’ hard work!
Back at the hotel, Mason Mount spent about 20 minutes after lunch speaking to Chelsea fans via our official Instagram page.
The young midfielder, who this week signed a new five-year contract, responded to fans’ questions, telling them Lampard is the former Blue he would most like to have played alongside, his favourite goal he’s watched live was a Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick he saw at Old Trafford and his routine of eating vegetables and chicken in pre-season.
You can watch Mount's Q&A on our Instagram Story.
On the topic of food, we can shed a little light on the players’ meals during this period. It is not all vegetables and chicken by any means, but the selection on offer at the buffet is certainly healthy. Proteins are vital at this time, so there is lots of fish and chicken, which help build muscle and recover after intense exercise. Spaghetti Bolognese has been a standard on the menu too, while drinks are juices and water – no fizzy drinks are on offer.
Downtime too is important – it is crucial players get their rest between sessions, but there is a games room with FIFA 19, darts, pool and table tennis to keep them entertained – N’Golo Kante is the man to watch on the ping pong, and a former Cobham pool champion.
The evening’s training session brought a change of atmosphere, with thousands of fans, as well as local media, invited into the Yokohama Mitsuzawa Stadium to see how the Blues practice.
The squad got to work in two separate groups, the first in the gym, the second outside on the pitch on a drill where the play switches between attack and defence, as dictated by the coach. One minute they’ll be tasked with a wide attack, getting the ball quickly to the wingers to get a cross in, the next they’ll be tasked with threading the ball through the middle, for a striker to finish off. When the play switches from attack, the two central defenders are tasked with clearing the ball from deep.
Christian Pulisic, on his third day of training, looked particularly sharp, finding the bottom corners of the goal with two strikes, much to the delight of the crowd, who watched on respectfully throughout.
Also present was Ashley Cole, who flew in from London to meet fans and watch Friday’s game against Kawasaki Frontale – which the J.League has reported is a sell-out.
Cole, who recently announced his retirement having worked with Lampard at Derby last season, is now preparing to take the next step in his career, but for the next few days is focused firmly on the Blues.
He joined Blues Chairman Bruce Buck, Olivier Giroud and Pedro in meeting fans from our official Japanese and Tokyo supporters clubs. Set in the hotel ballroom, the 38-year-old settled onto a sofa to share stories from his Blues career, detailing Luiz Feliipe Scolari and Carlo Ancelotti as his favourite Chelsea managers – somewhat surprising, perhaps?
Popular with team-mates, staff and players throughout his eight years at Stamford Bridge, Cole the ambassador has been welcomed warmly onto the trip, and makes for a pretty handy addition to a potential senior five-a-side team that could also include Petr Cech, Frank Lampard and Jody Morris.
That was the last engagement of the evening for the squad, with Friday set to be a quiet one before the evening's big game at the International Stadium.