Antonio Conte.

Three things we learned from Chelsea's pre-season game v Rapid Vienna

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Chelsea took to the field under the stewardship of Antonio Conte for the first time this afternoon as they took on Rapid Vienna.

Looking to move on from what was a tumultuous 2015-16 campaign that saw them finish in 10th place in the Premier League and parting ways with Jose Mourinho, the Conte regime began with a fairly lacklustre 0-2 defeat.

As we all know, pre-season friendlies - especially ones without a number of big name players still recovering from Euro 2016 exploits - aren't the be all and end all. But, what exactly did we learn about what lies ahead for Chelsea after Conte's first game in charge?


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Here are three points to take away from the ...

1) Four at the back the way forward?

After watching his Italy side impress at Euro 2016 whilst deploying three at the back, there have been suggestions Antonio Conte would look to implement the same tactic at Chelsea.

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However, the Stamford Bridge club played out the full 90 minutes today with four defenders, perhaps suggesting the ex-Juventus boss will stick to the traditional formation for his debut season in English football.

Branislav Ivanovic took up his usual position at right back and looks likely to retain that spot, rather than become part of a three centre-back formation. Abdul "Baba" Rahman started at left back, but, despite looking solid enough before being replaced by Olaoluwa Ola at half time, will be supplanted by Cesar Azpilicueta when the competitive games begin.

Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

2) Antonio Conte shares similarities with Jose Mourinho

Although he refused to draw comparisons with his predecessor when he took the job, there is no denying that watching Conte on the sideline during a game is not unlike watching 'The Special One'.

With Chelsea trailing for much of the game having conceded in the eight minute to Vienna, the Italian was an animated figure on the touchline.

While the result in today's game wasn't imperative, he was still on his feet throughout barking orders. Chelsea fans can rest assured that the current squad will know about it from their manager whenever they underperform this season.

SK Rapid v Chelsea F.C.  - Friendly Match

3) Finding the cutting edge

The list of players missing from their defeat to Vienna would go some way to creating an impressive XI in its own right, and their absence might go some way to explaining Chelsea's failure to score against the Austrian team.

Nevertheless, watching a rather dour 90 minutes of action will have brought back worrying memories from last season for Chelsea fans.

There was a distinct lack of cutting edge from anyone in a blue shirt for much of the game (misfit Victor Moses looked the most likely to create something). 

And with Diego Costa continuing to look more interesting in starting fights than scoring goals, today's game served as a reminder that the £32 million spent recently on Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi was much needed.

With Oscar and Willian - two potential starters come August's league opener - also playing at least 80 this evening without finding a breakthrough, there is work to be done to get Chelsea firing on all cylinders.


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Diego Costa
Frank Lampard
John Terry
Francesc Fabregas

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