Vulnerable Chelsea, Kondogbia OG stand out after first Singapore ICC
Chelsea may have been the biggest draw at the International Champions Cup (ICC) in Singapore, but Italian underdogs Inter Milan emerged victorious with wins over the Premier League champions and Bayern Munich.
With three games over five days, healthy crowds watched some of the biggest clubs in world football in the first-ever ICC played on Southeast Asian soil.
But the intensive nature of this kind of tour, played in intense heat and humidity, has its drawbacks, and not everyone is a fan, including Inter boss Luciano Spalletti.
Here are five things we learned from ICC Singapore 2017:
1. Chelsea look vulnerable
Regardless of the status of this preseason tournament, there is no doubt that England's top team would have wanted things to turn out a little differently.
Instead of playing with the swagger of champions, Chelsea looked fragile defensively in defeats to Inter and Bayern, particularly when attacked at pace. The opening 30 minutes of the game against Bayern was nightmarish as the Germans raced to a 3-0 lead with Thomas Muller grabbing a brace, and they could have scored more. The Blues fought back to make it a respectable 3-2, but that only partially papered over the cracks.
Inter, who finished seventh in Serie A last season, didn't start in quite the same manner. But they were the better team for the first hour and their counter attacking was a constant threat, culminating in an excellent second goal scored by Ivan Perisic in a 2-1 victory.
These are very early days, of course, but manager Antonio Conte must be just a little concerned by the way in which his side played here.
2. Blues need Hazard flair
While defensive deficiencies were on display, the performances of some of Chelsea's opponents reminded fans of who they had left back home.
Bayern winger Franck Ribery tormented the Blues last Tuesday, while Perisic was Inter's chief creative force as the Italians clinched the ICC trophy with their Saturday night dismissal of the West London side.
Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard is still recovering from ankle surgery, and his presence was sorely missed, as his teammates struggled to create chances in both games. While Conte could not put an exact date on a return for the Belgian, Blues' fans will be praying that it is sooner rather than later.
3. Youngsters struggle to make an impression
Plenty of young Chelsea players got some game time on the tour, but it is difficult to identify one who came away with his reputation truly enhanced.
After several players were handed substitute appearances against Arsenal in Beijing, 21-year-old centre-back Andreas Christensen and 20-year-old midfielder Jeremie Boga earned starting places against Bayern Munich. Unfortunately for the Danish defender, he was as exposed as any of the Chelsea backline when Bayern ruthlessly took them apart. Boga struggled to make an impact before being replaced in the second half.
Conte then fielded his strongest available XI against Inter before making a flurry of substitutions towards the end of the game, with little time for any of the replacements to impress.
Conte and his captain Gary Cahill both claimed that the young players would get their chance if they were good enough. On the evidence of these three games, they still have a long way to go to put pressure on the incumbents.
4. Singapore fans praised but schedule questioned
Chelsea manager Conte, along with Bayern's Carlo Ancelotti and Inter's Spalletti, had warm words of praise for the Singapore fans and the city in general. Conte was impressed by the passion of the fans who waited patiently to see their heroes at the team hotel, while Ancelotti praised the training facilities and insisted he would be happy to return.
However, while Spalletti described Singapore as beautiful and spoke of a "great experience", he raised doubts about the timing of the event and schedule that saw his side play twice in three days. Conte said his players were "very tired" after three matches in a week, first in China and then Singapore.
The combined total of spectators across the three games was just over 100,000 and included fans from all over Southeast Asia who had made the trip specially. There is little doubt that the fan interest is there, but there may have to be a rethink over the scheduling if the same teams are to return.
5. Kondogbia makes his mark
Bayern's Thomas Muller scored an excellent long-range effort against Chelsea on Matchday One, while Perisic slammed home a clinical strike following a classic counter attack by Inter against the Blues in the final game of the week.
However, it was Inter Milan's unfortunate Geoffrey Kondogbia whose own goal will live longest in the memory. With his side 2-0 up against Chelsea, the defensive midfielder was shielding the ball under pressure when he decided to play it back to keeper Daniele Padelli.
What happened next stunned everyone in the National Stadium as the ball flew off his boot and over a stunned Padelli's head and into the net. It was arguably the most spectacular own goal seen on Singapore soil, and ended the tournament on an entertaining, if slightly comical note.
Paul Murphy has lived in Thailand for nine years, contributing to ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express (UK) sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK