The first European trophy of the season will be on the line when Chelsea and Liverpool meet in the first all-English UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul on Wednesday.
It is still early days in 2019-20, but the first European trophy of the season – the UEFA Super Cup – is already up for grabs. This time around, it is an all-English affair, the first such instance in the near five-decade history of the competitions, as Liverpool take on Chelsea at Besiktas Park on Wednesday night.
It was an English summer in Europe, which had already guaranteed a first all-English UEFA Super Cup before the ball was even kicked in the Champions League and Europa League finals. While Liverpool eased to a 2-0 win over Tottenham in the premier European competition, Chelsea were comfortable 4-1 victors over Arsenal in the Europa League final, thus setting up Wednesday’s tie.
The two sides have played their first competitive fixtures of the 2019-20 season as well, with Liverpool coasting to a 4-1 win over newly-promoted Norwich City in their Premier League season opener. The Reds now get set to return to a city where they have fond memories, with Istanbul the setting of their fifth Champions League triumph, coming from behind to beat AC Milan in 2005.
Chelsea, on the other hand, endured a horrific start to the season. While the 4-0 scoreline in their Premier League curtain raiser against Manchester United did not do justice to the effort they put in, individual errors and lapses in concentration meant that they were eventually beaten quite heavily. The Blues though, must move on quickly in order to make a contest of the UEFA Super Cup.
The last clash between the two sides saw Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-0 in the Premier League as they continued their quest for a first Premier League title. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the UEFA Super Cup encounter.
Team News & Tactics
The first game of the season gave way to a news of potential catastrophic proportions, with Alisson Becker sustaining a calf injury against Norwich City. Liverpool are now set to be without their first-choice goalkeeper for “a number of weeks” and Jurgen Klopp will now have to rely on summer arrival Adrian for the foreseeable future.
After making his Liverpool debut last Friday, the Spaniard will now have major responsibilities resting on his shoulder. As for his backup, Caoimhin Kelleher could be an option, but it has been reported that Andy Lonergan, who was a part of the Merseyside club’s pre-season tour to USA, could sign a short-term contract and take his place on the bench against Chelsea.
Apart from the forced change in goal, Klopp could make a few shuffles in order to keep his men fresh. One of the changes are expected to be made in the backline, where Joel Matip could come into the side in place of Joe Gomez, to partner Virgil van Dijk at the heart of the Liverpool defence.
As for the full-back slots, there is no looking past Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson on either flank, with the duo making a decent start to the season. As always, Alexander-Arnold and Robertson will be tasked with providing the width, allowing the midfielders and attackers to overload central areas.
Up ahead in midfield, Fabinho is likely to keep his place as Liverpool’s holding midfielder. But, Georginio Wijnaldum could make way for James Milner, although Jordan Henderson is expected to be retained in the starting lineup. Milner will be in-charge of the set-pieces for Liverpool and will look to put in precise deliveries to test a vulnerable Chelsea defence.
Upfront, the fearsome trio of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino could be reunited for the first time this season, despite Divock Origi’s recent heroics. The aim of starting each of the three superstars will be to seal the win over Chelsea quickly before giving them an early breather, keeping this weekend’s league game against Southampton in mind.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mane
While Jurgen Klopp was greeted with bad news last weekend, for Frank Lampard the news has only been good, at least on the injury front. N’Golo Kante shrugged off a knee injury to ease into action in the second half against Manchester United. Willian too, is back after completely recovering from a hamstring injury that has kept him out since the Copa America.
The Brazilian international has travelled with the squad to Istanbul and is in line to return to action against Liverpool. But, Willian is unlikely to make the starting lineup and is only expected to be slowly induced back into the side, as was the case with Kante this past weekend.
Speaking of Kante, the indomitable Frenchman ought to be fit enough to face Liverpool from the get-go and will partner Jorginho in Chelsea’s midfield double pivot. Behind them, the defence could do with some good news after a horror showing at Old Trafford.
Antonio Rudiger is inching closer to his return to action after putting a long-term knee injury behind him. But, the UEFA Super Cup contest has come too soon for the German, meaning Kurt Zouma, one of the players culpable for Sunday’s debacle, will keep his place at the heart of the Chelsea defence alongside Andreas Christensen.
Cesar Azpilicueta will likely be retained as the right-back as well, while Emerson Palmieri will have nailed down his place on the left after being one of the few players who impressed in defeat. As for the attack, in Willian’s stead, Pedro is expected to continue. But, on the opposite flank, Christian Pulisic should make his full debut, replacing Ross Barkley.
Barkley’s absence from the starting lineup means the impressive Mason Mount will keep his place in the hole. The young Englishman will be in-charge of most set-pieces and will look to provide the creative impetus against a somewhat shaky Liverpool defence. Upfront, last season’s Europa League top scorer Olivier Giroud should come in for Tammy Abraham.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Christensen, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho; Pedro, Mount, Pulisic; Giroud
- Liverpool and Chelsea meet in European competition for the 11th time. In the past 10 fixtures in Europe involving the two sides, the Reds have managed two wins to Chelsea’s three (D5).
- Liverpool have registered just three wins over Chelsea in their last 17 meetings in all competitions (D8 L6).
- Whoever wins in Istanbul will claim England’s eighth UEFA Super Cup, fewer only than Spain (15) and Italy (9). An English side has not triumphed since Liverpool’s 2005 success; Premier League clubs have been beaten on their four subsequent appearances, including defeats for Chelsea in 2012 and 2013.
- Liverpool have lost six of their last nine matches in UEFA competition outside England, although they have won three of the last four, with only failure coming in defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final first leg.
- Chelsea are unbeaten in Europe in nearly 18 months, since being beaten by Barcelona in March 2018 (W12 D3).
Player to Watch
Mason Mount was one of the few players who managed to impress despite being a part of the losing side in Chelsea’s first game of the season. Being preferred in his favoured position over an established star is statement enough, with Frank Lampard choosing to play him in the hole ahead of Ross Barkley.
Mount looked supremely confident and comfortable in what was his Premier League debut, showing that the sense of occasion does not get to him easily. As a result, it is likely that he will make his European debut as well on Wednesday. And, against a Liverpool side that has shown some uncharacteristic defensive weakness, his creativity will come in handy.
The only way seems to be up for Mason Mount right now and another impressive showing on Wednesday would see him go a long way in establishing himself as a mainstay in this new-look Chelsea side.
Liverpool 3-1 Chelsea
When the first ball is kicked on Wednesday, history will be created with Stephanie Frappart becoming the first woman to officiate UEFA Super Cup. Liverpool can create history of their own by winning the game, which will take them level with Real Madrid on four UEFA Super Cups, fewer only than Barcelona and AC Milan (5), although Chelsea might have something to say on that.
The Blues though, seem to be ripe for the taking, with Manchester United brutally exposing their defensive weaknesses this past Sunday. Liverpool have vulnerabilities of their own at the back, with Virgil van Dijk still not settling in for the season. And, with Alisson missing, Chelsea could fancy their chances against a considerably inferior goalkeeper in Adrian.
All in all, this looks like a game that could be laden with goals, meaning the more efficient side in the final third will triumph. It is here where Liverpool hold the decisive edge, with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino looking in menacing touch. The Hard Tackle thus, predicts a 3-1 win for Liverpool, with Istanbul giving them another night to remember.