Stars align for a big winter of football as Chelsea nears
FANS of the beautiful game in Australia have never had it so good.
English Premier League powerhouse Chelsea has crowned what looms as a winter of content by confirming it would play Sydney FC at ANZ Stadium on June 2, part of a nine-game schedule over eight weeks featuring some of the best teams, and players, on the planet.
The series kicks off on May 29 with Adelaide United taking on Spanish side Villareal at Coopers Stadium, and ends with a clash between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the MCG on July 24.
In between, fans will have the chance to watch stars from EPL clubs Liverpool and Tottenham, and Italy's AS Roma. Chelsea has promised to bring all of its best players for the clash against Sydney FC, including Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard who was named the Professional Footballers Association player of the year at the weekend.
The 24-year-old has scored 13 goals and made eight goal-assists this season to help the Blues move within two wins of its first title since 2010.
The first of those is a catch-up match against Leicester City on Thursday morning, and the second is against Crystal Palace at home on Sunday night.
Such has been the team's dominance this season, five other players - Nemanja Matic, striker Diego Costa, captain John Terry and centre-back partner Gary Cahill, and fullback Branislav Ivanovic - were also named in the PFA side.
Other stars, including Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba and Spanish World Cup winner Cesc Fabregas, are also expected to be part of manager Jose Mourinho's squad for the trip Down Under.
Sydney FC Chairman Scott Barlow described confirmation of the visit to Sydney as "an historic announcement for Sydney FC and for football in Australia.
"Chelsea are one of the world's biggest football clubs with millions of fans around the globe, and this will be a huge occasion for the game in our country," Barlow said.
The Blues, who have more than 509 million fans globally, have toured Australia twice, playing 11 games during a month-long stay in 1965, and another six on a tour in 1974.
SCHEDULE OF STARS
May 29: Adelaide United v Villareal at Coopers Stadium
May 30: Sydney FC v Tottenham at ANZ Stadium
June 2: Sydney FC v Chelsea at ANZ Stadium
June 3: Brisbane Roar v Villareal at Suncorp Stadium
July 17: Brisbane v Liverpool at Suncorp Stadium
July 18: Real Madrid v AS Roma at the MCG
July 20: Adelaide v Liverpool at Adelaide Oval
July 21: AS Roma v Manchester City at the MCG
July 24: Manchester City v Real Madrid at the MCG