Blues turn on star power
IT will be a case of David versus Goliath when the multimillionaire superstars of Chelsea take on the relative minnows of Sydney FC at ANZ Stadium tonight.
The English champions have just celebrated winning a fourth Premier League crown, with superstar coach Jose Mourinho adding to his legend.
In Sydney, Chelsea will do battle with a team that earns less than 2 per cent of their an- nual salary bill. Sydney FC are taking on EPL opponents for the second time in 72 hours, after a 1-0 defeat to Tottenham last Saturday, in a contest that on a financial level could scarcely be more unequal.
Funded by the seemingly limitless wealth of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and led by charismatic and controversial coach Mourinho, Chelsea in 2013-14 paid out a whopping $380.8 million.
Sydney last season paid out just $2.55 million on the salary cap plus $2 million to marquee strikers Marc Janko, who has since left the club, and Alex Brosque.
It’s no wonder then that Chelsea chartered their own plane to Sydney, nor that they are staying at the up-market Park Hyatt hotel at Circular Quay.
Their players are used to getting the best, and Chelsea are happy to pay for it – and for them.
EPL Player of the Year Eden Hazard gets almost $21 million a year and the club’s next two highest earners, Spaniards Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, are not far behind.
Sydney FC can’t compete – their top earner is Brosque, who takes home $500,000.
Even so, the Sky Blues do hold one advantage over tonight’s opponents – a bigger home ground.
Allianz Stadium has a capacity of 45,500 while Stamford Bridge holds 41,837. However, Chelsea do sell out most of their home games.
Tonight’s game at ANZ is expected to attract a post-Olympic record crowd, with some 84,000 expected.
For all the trappings of success there were things that united the high-earners with the backpackers milling around Circular Quay yards from the Park Hyatt yesterday.
After the club laid down its requirements while in Sydney – including food, hotel space and training facilities – Mourinho’s only request was the chance to tour the Sydney Harbour on a boat.
Luckily for him, the overcast skies of their arrival on Sunday had lifted to give him a picture perfect tour.