By Jack Tarrant
SAITAMA, Japan (Reuters) – New Chelsea boss Frank Lampard believes he is getting his message across to the players following their 2-1 victory over Barcelona in a pre-season friendly on Tuesday.
Chelsea’s record goalscorer, who returned to the Premier League club as manager on July 4, said that the work his coaching staff and players were putting in on the training ground was beginning to pay dividends.
“It has been good on pitch and off pitch,” Lampard said in Saitama, north of Tokyo, on Tuesday.
“Particularly today, I saw a lot of signs from the work we have done, which is really good for me.”
“There is more work to day but it has been a good trip.”
Chelsea were much improved from their display against Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale, who beat them 1-0 on Friday, with Tammy Abraham and Ross Barkley on the scoresheet.
Striker Abraham pounced on some unusually slack play from Barca’s Sergio Busquets to open the scoring after 34 minutes and midfielder Barkley added the second goal nine minutes from time with a shot from the edge of the box.
Barca midfielder Ivan Rakitic got a stunning consolation in added time for Ernesto Valverde’s side – earning the biggest cheer of the night – but Lampard was the happier of the two managers.
Chelsea strikers Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi came on in the second half and Lampard was happy with all three of the options he has up front this season.
“There is competition,” he said. “People keep on talking about it but they all need to rise to the competition and show they can be strikers for Chelsea. I have full confidence in them.”
Lampard is stuck with those three striking options due to a FIFA transfer ban imposed on the London club.
However, Chelsea have been able to add Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic permanently to their squad since he was on loan at Stamford Bridge last season and Lampard reserved his highest praise for the former Real Madrid man.
“(Kovacic is) an incredible talent on the ball and I want to work with him and I want to help him improve and improve,” said Lampard, who scored 211 goals from midfield for Chelsea.
“There is so much talent there. I really like him and he was outstanding today. I really am pleased.”
Whilst it was Chelsea’s fourth game of pre-season, it was Barcelona’s first and, without Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in attack, as they recover from the Copa America, it showed.
French forward Antoine Griezmann, a recent recruit from La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid, was bright during his first 45 minutes in a Barca shirt and Valverde was impressed.
“He is doing well within the team and it is true that whenever he has the ball then he is really dangerous against the other team,” he said.
“It is true that he has many ideas on how to use the ball and we hope that he continues this way.”
“But it is the first game and he needs to learn how Barcelona play, our style and how we dominate.”
Barca face Japanese side Vissel Kobe, and their former players Andres Iniesta and David Villa, on Saturday.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; editing by Ken Ferris)