Chelsea ended their United States pre-season tour on a positive note as goals from Bertrand Traore and Oscar gave the Blues a 3-1 win over AC Milan at the brand new U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Bertrand Traore opened the scoring for the Premier League club, before a brilliant free kick from Giacomo Bonaventura levelled the scores in the first half. The teams went into half-time level, but the introduction of Oscar turned the game in Chelsea’s favour as he scored twice to guide his team to a 3-1 victory over the Italians. This match may just prove to be Oscar’s saving grace as we take a look at five talking points the Blues’ win on Wednesday.
1. Oscar’s performance may convince Conte
There were question marks raised regarding Oscar’s future with Chelsea, with reports suggesting that Conte was unhappy with the Brazilian’s work-rate during the pre-season matches and in training. The playmaker was brought on by the Italian in the 59th minute against AC Milan with the scores level and he turned the match in his club’s favour.
The 24-year-old bagged two goals in the 31 minutes of game time he received against the Serie A outfit. While his first goal came from the penalty spot, the Brazilian got on the end of a beautiful pass by Juan Cuadrado to rifle home his second. Oscar would hope his performance against the Rossoneri is enough to convince Antonio Conte to make him a part of the first-team plans at Stamford Bridge.
2. Ola Aina disappoints as Chelsea’s defence fails to convince
Chelsea’s defence still looks unconvincing as a unit and their defensive frailty was again highlighted against AC Milan. Even though Chelsea kept clean sheets against RZ Pellets and Liverpool — the latter with only ten men on the pitch for a substantial period — there were visible chinks in Conte’s defensive armour against Milan, especially at the right-back position.
Academy defender Ola Aina continued at right-back, but the youngster was caught flat-footed on numerous occasions. The Premier League club have conceded 6 goals in 5 matches in pre-season, which is a huge worry for the former Juventus manager, whose sides are known for their compact and solid defence. The club has been linked with a move for a defender and there is still time to get a new face in to add some steel before the start of the new season.
3. AC Milan look prepared for a solid season
Even though the Rossoneri have faced defeat at the hands of Premier League duo Liverpool and Chelsea in pre-season, there have been signs of encouragement in the United States for AC Milan.
The club did beat Bayern Munich on penalties in their first match of pre-season, and despite the two-goal difference in the two matches against the Premier League clubs, Milan gave them a run for their money. This would be a huge boost to manager Vincenzo Montella as he prepares to restore the pride of the fallen Serie A giants.
4. Bertrand Traore might have earned himself a place in the first-team squad
Bertrand Traore may not be as prolific or well-known as his counterpart Diego Costa or the likes of Alvaro Morata whom Chelsea are reportedly interested in, but the forward has impressed in the pre-season tour so far for the Blues. Manager Antonio Conte has given the striker substantial game time and the Burkina Faso player repaid his manager’s faith once again as he opened the scoring for Chelsea against AC Milan with a real poacher’s goal.
The 20-year-old was the first to react with a brilliant header after Milan keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma parried the ball away from a Victor Moses shot. Traore has been linked with a move to Ajax but judging by his involvement in pre-season, he could be an integral part of Conte’s plans at Chelsea.
5. Juan Cuadrado gives a good account of his abilities
Juan Cuadrado has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge, with AC Milan being one of the suitors. However, the Colombian once again gave a good account of himself against the Rossoneri on Wednesday.
The winger came on in the 79th minute and looked generally lively. The 28-year-old played Oscar through for his second and Chelsea’s third of the night with a brilliant slide rule pass that took two defenders out of the picture. Antonio Conte seems to like the player and has insisted that Cuadrado will stay with Chelsea for the 2016-17 season. The Colombian winger’s cameos may just convince Conte to give him more substantial game time.
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