As European club football- not essentially football (there have been no breaks) resumes gradually, the curtain-raiser for Europe’s club competitions, the UEFA Super Cup kicks off tomorrow.
Last season’s Champions League winners, Chelsea take on Europa League winners Villarreal at Windsor Park in Northern Ireland.
The Blues defeated Manchester City 1-0 in the final of the UCL as Villarreal overcame Manchester United in one of football’s most dramatic penalty shootouts.
While there’s very little at stake in this fixture, both coaches will be keen for good performances as a way to measure their levels of progress.
In Thomas Tuchel’s second consecutive season in the Champions League final, he impressively delivered Chelsea’s second title. The German joined the London club in the second round of the competition.
Tuchel’s men ousted Atletico Madrid, Porto and Real Madrid to reach the final. Kai Havertz scored the only goal against Pep Guardiola’s City to deserve a UEFA Super Cup matchup.
The reigning UCL Champions have stayed unbeaten in all four pre-season friendlies, including a 2-1 win against Arsenal and a draw to Tottenham Hotspur.
However, it is worthy of note that Chelsea has lost all three Super Cup encounters to Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich and Liverpool since 2012.
On the other hand, Villarreal overcame RB Salzburg, Dynamo Kyiv, Dinamo Zagreb, and Arsenal to be Europa League Champions. The Yellow Submarines garnered 16 points from a possible 18 in the group stages.
Strangely, Unai Emery’s men failed to win any of six pre-season matches. They lost to Leicester City and Leeds in this window.
The Europa League title is the Valencian club’s only European title. Hence, they will be making their debut at the UEFA Super Cup.
What To Expect
Both teams will meet for the first time in a competitive match when they face off in the UEFA Super Cup.
Chelsea still has problems in front of goal and with Romelu Lukaku yet to be officially confirmed, Tuchel will be relying on his team’s defensive solidity.
The German tactician will also be wary of fatigue due to many of his players having participated at the Euro and Copa America.
This looks sure to be Hakim Ziyech’s season to fully strut his stuff having struggled to adapt last season.
Meanwhile, Gerard Moreno will be key for Emery’s team having scored 30 goals last season. The Spanish forward will be keen to put behind his lethargic performances at the Euros. Samuel Chukwueze has also made the squad after an injury that led him to miss the Europa League final.
The Villarreal boss also favours defensive astuteness. This will form the foundation of how they approach the game.
While the Super Cup might not be the most coveted trophy on offer, a continental silverware to kick start the season will be good motivation to fight.
On the balance of quality and experience, Chelsea should come out winners.