Chelsea will be gearing up for their first official pre-season friendly as they travel to face Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium this evening.
Thomas Tuchel’s side hosted a training game against Peterborough United at Cobham, followed by an in-house clash in Dublin last week after their Ireland tour was cut short.
A visit to the coast will be the Blues’ first taste of a capacity crowd for well over a year, with both sets of supporters hoping to make it a special occasion.
Niceties aside, Tuchel doesn’t have long to get his house in order before the Premier League campaign kicks off on the 14th of August.
With so many players available to him, the German coach could probably field three different line-ups if he wanted.
But to begin with, he can only pick 11 names, so here is our initial predicted XI to take on the Cherries.
Following the recent departure of Jamie Cumming, Tuchel only has two senior goalkeepers to choose from.
Kepa Arrizabalaga gets the nod from the off.
In front of the Spanish shot-stopper, a back three of Malang Sarr, Jake Clarke-Salter, and one of the returning European Championship adventurers, Kurt Zouma.
Zouma didn’t actually feature at all for France at the tournament, so should realistically be fresher than most who represented their country.
At right-wing back comes Dujon Sterling, a player who has reportedly been catching Tuchel’s eye over the past few weeks.
Kenedy earns a place on the opposite wing, after impressing there on loan with Granada in 2020/21.
The Brazilian may not have many chances left to impress his new boss, due to his uncertain future at Chelsea.
In between the pair is the partnership of Tiemoue Bakayoko and Mateo Kovacic.
This is a duo that have only played together competitively three times, despite both being on the Blues books since at least 2017.
Bakayoko arrived first from Monaco for £40m (BBC) but has spent the majority of his time out on loan.
Barkley was signed the following January and is slightly more established, although he spent the previous term away with Aston Villa.
Prepare for a Belgian double act in attack.
Charly Musonda could well play alongside fellow countryman, Michy Batshuayi, who hardly managed a kick at the Euros.
Just to add a little bit of first-team normality to the system, Christian Pulisic features upfront with the two compatriots.
Predicted Chelsea XI vs Bournemouth: Kepa; Sarr, Clarke-Salter, Zouma; Sterling, Bakayoko, Barkley, Kenedy; Musonda, Batshuayi, Pulisic