August 31, 2012; 19:45 GMT
The European showpiece event is upon us, as Champions League winners Chelsea will take on Europa League winners Atletico Madrid in Monaco tomorrow night.
Dwelling deep into history, the competition, which was the brainchild of Dutch Sports Editor Anton Witkamp, began in 1972. It came to be officially recognised by UEFA in 1973, with Ajax AFC the first holders of the trophy. The Super Cup, at its initial stage of conception, was contested between the winners of the European Cup (now the UEFA Champions League) and the Cup Winners’ Cup. The Cup Winners’ Cup was another European competition contested between the winners of domestic cup competitions throughout Europe (FA Cup, DFB Pokal, Copa Del Rey, et al). With the dissolution of Cup Winners’ Cup, the showpiece event is now contested between the winners of Europa League (called UEFA cup between 1999 and 2008) and the Champions League.
Chelsea are competing in the tournament only for the second time. Their first participation and victory came in 1998, when they participated as the Winners of the Cup Winners’ Cup, having defeated Vfb Stuttgart in the final with a spectacular goal from the magician Gianfranco Zola, who latching on to a lobbed up ball from current Chelsea Boss Robbie Di Matteo. In the Super Cup, their opponents were the European Champions, the mighty Real Madrid, featuring the likes of Fernando Hierro, Fernando Redondo, Roberto Carlos and the Legendary Raúl González. The game was won by a late goal from Chelsea’s then No.8 Gustavo Poyet. That season, the trio of FA Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and Super Cup were Chelsea’s first silverware after 26 years.
On the 31st August 2012, they will participate as the European Champions themselves, on the back of a remarkable Champions League Campaign, looking to win the first trophy of the new season.
Like their opponents, Atletico Madrid are competing in the UEFA Super Cup only for the second time in their history. Their first participation and victory came against Internazionale in 2010, when they contested as the winners of UEFA Europa League. They entered the competition having seen off Fulham in the Europa League final, courtesy of a brace from Diego Forlan. The final against Inter was won by two goals from the brilliant Jose Antonio Reyes and Sergio Aguero. Inter were without their Champions League winning manager Jose Mourinho, who had left at the end of 2009-10 season for Real Madrid; his departure arguably was a significant factor.
They come into the competition as winners of UEFA Europa League 2012, defeating their Spanish Compatriots Athletic de Bilbao 3-0, with Falcao being their star performer throughout the campaign.
Team News & Tactical Brief
Players missing for Chelsea are injured the Marko Marin and suspended captain John Terry. The Chelsea captain got sent off against Barcelona in the CL semi final 2nd leg and is serving a two game ban. He missed the Champions League Final, and he will miss this clash as well. Elsewhere, David Luiz suffered a concussion a week back against Newcastle United, but is expected to make the Line-up and everybody else should be available for selection.
Under di Matteo, Chelsea’s formation has pretty much been a 4-2-3-1 and having reaped much success from the same, he is expected to continue with the same line-up against Atletico. From the team that defeated Newcastle, Raul Meireles is expected to make way for Frank Lampard. Together he and Mikel will form the double pivot, sitting in front of a back four of Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz and Cole. Fernando Torres will lead the line, supported by Eden Hazard and Juan Mata behind him. Mata has looked a bit tired, due to his exertions over the last season but still is the heart of the team.
Eden hazard has been an absolute game changer for the west London Club with quite a few assists already. Torres looks himself after a long time, getting the kind of service he thrived on, at Liverpool. One tricky call would be whether to play Ramires or Ryan Bertrand. It is abundantly clear that Di Matteo likes his players to track back and defend, and with Eden hazard and Juan Mata roaming around forward, he would surely look to one of these two in helping the team out with the dangerous wing-play of Atletico.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole; Mikel, Lampard; Hazard, Mata, Ramires; Torres
Atletico de Madrid
Diego Simeone will be expected to field the same line-up that ran out 4-0 winners against Athletic Bilbao over the weekend. Miranda and Godin will look to cut out the threat of Fernando Torres, having kept a successful clean sheet at Vicente Calderon, although they did not have a Fernando Llorente to deal with. Mario Suarez and Gabi would form the midfield pivot and look to snatch control of the midfield from Chelsea. Atletico Madrid have usually come across as a team midway between the giants of La Liga. They combine Real Madrid’s more direct style of play with Barcelona’s possession football in an efficient manner.
With wingers such as Jose Antonio Reyes and Simao symbolising Los Rojiblancos’ wing play, tomorrow Arda Turan and Cristian Rodriguez will look to hurt Chelsea from out wide. It is this wing threat that Chelsea would look to neutralise, or else pay a heavy price with one of the world’s best finishers in Falcao waiting at the end of crosses. Falcao has been nothing short of a revelation in La Liga. He will lead Atletico’s line and is expected to cause all sorts of problems to the slightly suspect defensive pairing of Gary Cahill and David Luiz, especially on the latter’s current run of form. Thibaut Courtois, on loan from Chelsea, is certain to line-up against his parent club and stake a claim to Chelsea’s no.1 position. Considering his performances over the year and the reason why he requested Chelsea to extend his loan spell at Atletico, rather than with a club in England, he can be expected to do well against the London side. With no injury concerns, Atletico would field their strongest possible line-up.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Filipe Luis; Suarez, Gabi; Koke, Turan, Rodriguez; Falcao
Chelsea FC 2-1 Atletico Madrid
Chelsea would go into the game as favourites but in a one-off clash between two very good teams, it goes without saying that anything could happen. Chelsea would need to suppress Atletico’s wing play and deal with Falcao’s brilliance. Atletico, on the other hand, would need to deal with the mercurial Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and the in-form Torres. Chelsea’s experience in big games is likely to come in handy. There is the also added twist of Torres playing against his boyhood club, which will surely add to the much anticipated game.
However, if Los Rojiblancos manage to pull of an ‘upset’, it will not be met with the wide eyed stares and open mouths as happened in the last season.
Written by guest author Shivam Chaturvedi