HAS THE TRADITIONAL curtain-raiser to the new English football season ever had a lower profile?
As the sporting world savours the final day of London 2012, league champions Manchester City and FA Cup winners Chelsea meet in the 2012 Community Shield.
Not only has the Olympic jamboree stolen the game’s thunder, it has stolen its home as well, forcing it to move over 100 miles north of Wembley Stadium to Birmingham’s Villa Park.
But for Roberto di Matteo it’s the only show in town and the Chelsea manager has tipped Fernando Torres to get his campaign off to a bright start.
The Spain international managed just six Premier League goals last term but Di Matteo wants more from Torres this campaign, particularly now Didier Drogba has left the club for Shanghai Shenhua.
“He scored some important goals for us last season,” Di Matteo said.
“I don’t want to put pressure on one player. We operate as a team. Hopefully, our strikers will score lots of goals. But he’s not the only one. We have Daniel Sturridge and midfielders who can score, too.
“His price comes from the fact that he’s been superb for the teams he’s played for in the past. We have every confidence in him.”
Torres’ struggles at Chelsea have been well-documented but, having scored against Barcelona in the Champions League last season as well as collecting the Golden Boot at Euro 2012, Di Matteo says things are looking up and that the Spaniard is raring to go.
“I was very happy with him at the end of last season,” Di Matteo said.
“There are great expectations on the club and the team and he is part of that. He was brought in to be a fantastic striker and, hopefully, he will be able to fit into our team and show the qualities he has. He’s full of confidence and is looking good in training.”
Chelsea go into the new season with trophies to defend, after winning the FA Cup and Champions League last season, but Di Matteo says he has already put the European Cup triumph behind him.
“I have to forget about the Champions League, absolutely,” he said.
“It’s part of the past, done and dusted. We have a new start, new challenges and it’s going to be difficult for us. Everybody is going to raise their game against us.”