Pre-season got underway for Chelsea on Saturday with almost every available player featuring for either Carlo Ancelotti’s first team or Dermot Drummy’s Under-18s.
Five of those who were registered as absent are in Northern France as the UEFA European Under-19 Championships got underway for 2010 on Sunday, with each of the quintet in action.
Matej Delač kicked things off for Croatia against one of the tournament favourites in Spain. The teenage stopper has yet to play for Chelsea, or indeed join up with the squad, but on the eve of the fixture his club chairman confirmed that he would not be returning to Inter Zapresic after the tournament.
His immediate club future may be uncertain, but he put in an excellent display against the Spaniards, showing all the tools which enamoured the Blues enough to sign him to a contract last October.
Croatia led 1-0 at the break with Delač repelling everything that came towards him, with many fans suggesting that but for him, Spain could have been out of sight at the break.
As it was, they were able to turn the game around in the second half to take a 2-1 victory, and whilst he may have done better with his direction of the rebound from which the winning goal came, Delač certainly put on a show to Chelsea fans perhaps watching him for the first time.
Whilst Croatia were battling away in Bayeux, Italian duo Jacopo Sala and Fabio Borini lined up for Italy against Portugal in Mondeville, but they too were to suffer an opening day reverse.
Borini took the captain’s armband, as he did throughout qualifying, whilst Sala donned the number seven shirt on the right wing, but despite having the better of the opening stages, Italy were unable to make a breakthrough, and were made to pay.
Two second half goals by the Iberians confirmed victory, with both Chelsea boys withdrawn during the second half. Borini was lively but starved of service for much of the game, whilst Sala struggled to really get involved.
Jacob Mellis did strike one in the win column for England but was only used as a late substitute for Noel Blake’s side as they beat Austria 3-2 in a topsy-turvy game.
Despite registering four goals in his eight caps at this level, Mellis was left on the sidelines in what was a rather defensive team named by former centre-back Blake, but two first half goals from former Chelsea youngster Frank Nouble put them on their way and a third from Thomas Cruise in the second half secured victory.
Jacob will be hoping to feature in their next fixture against Holland, who suffered an ignominious 4-1 hammering at the hands of hosts France in the prime time kickoff.
One of the stars of the show was Gael Kakuta, in the centre of an attacking triad behind lone striker Cedric Bakambu, and he opened the scoring in style after 20 minutes.
A poor clearance from the Dutch defence was pounced upon by the lively Kakuta some 35 yards from goal. Quick as a flash, he skipped past a man, advanced to the edge of the area, and slotted past goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet with exceptional composure.
Watch Gael’s goal on TheChels.tv
He was energetic and dangerous throughout, switching to the right flank in the second half, and further goals from Bakambu (twice) and an own goal created by reported Chelsea target Gueida Fofana gave Les Bleus a deserved 4-1 victory.
Action in France gets underway again on Wednesday, and you can keep up to date with how everybody gets on here at TheChels and on Twitter @chelseayouth.