Chelsea announce pre-season European tour

Chelsea have released details of their pre-season fixtures, including trips to Vitesse and Werder Bremen.

The Blues return to action on July 16, with two Chelsea XI's facing off against Wycombe Wanderers and AFC Wimbledon, as head coach Jose Mourinho prepares for the challenge of the new season. The Portuguese boss is set to improve on his third-placed finish in the Premier League, and the official Chelsea website has reveal that the club is embarking on a tour of Europe, taking on a selection of clubs affiliated with Stamford Bridge.

The four game tour will kick off on July 23, with a fixture at the Klagenfurt Stadium in Austria. The hosts, RZ Pellets WAC, finished the past season in seventh in the Austrian Bundesliga. The tour continues at the Stozice Stadium, as the Blues face NK Olimpija Ljubljana of Slovenia.

A journey to the Netherlands follows, as Vitesse Arnhem host the club which supplied much of the talent to secure the sixth-placed finish in the Eredivisie, before the tour ends at the Wesser Stadium in Germany - as Mourinho's men face Werder Bremen.

It represents something of a publicity move for Chelsea, as well as being a chance for Mourinho to asses his squad before the season starts. Both Ljubljana and Vitesse have become ersatz feeder clubs in recent seasons, with the Dutch side taking six Blues players on loan this season. Despite the rules against feeder clubs, Roman Abramovich's financial interest in Vitesse has drawn criticism from many corners for being just that. Playing against the club that willingly takes your players on loan can only increase the sense of brotherhood, and the eventual willingness to improve your players.

Blues fans will be delighted that their squad will be playing top class opposition as they prepare for another gruelling Premier League season, and it only can be good that they are extending their media reach into the untapped English potential of Eastern European fandom.

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