The last time Chelsea played a European tie: Didier Drogba was King, German opponents were reduced to tears, Chelsea walked off the field covered with glory and confetti, carrying a trophy with big ears. Champions of Europe!
The last time Atletico Madrid played a European tie: Falcao was King, Spanish opponents were reduced to tears, Atletico walked off the field covered with glory and confetti, carrying a trophy with no ears. Champions of Europa!
The last time Chelsea played in the UEFA Super Cup: Gianfranco Zola was King, Spanish giants were reduced to tears, Chelsea walked off the field covered with glory and confetti, carrying a trophy with no ears. Super Champions of Europe?
The last time Atletico Madrid played in the UEFA Super Cup: Sergio Aguero was King, Italian giants were reduced to tears, Atletico walked off the field covered with glory and confetti...
And you get the point; something has got to give.
Date/Time: Friday, August 31st; 19:45 (BST), 2:45 PM (EDT), 0:15 (IST - Saturday, September 1st)
Venue: Stade Louis II, Monaco
TV Information: ITV1 & Sky Sports 2 (UK), FSC (USA), Ten Action + (India)
Online: FOXSoccer2Go (USA)
There are plenty more parallels and semi-interesting bits of trivia that sportscaster so love to throw out there. Both teams will be playing in their second Super Cup, both having won it the first time they were in. When Chelsea played in the 1998 edition of this thing (versus a team from Madrid), it came on the heels of a domestic and European cup double. For 2012, those cups were upgraded from League to FA and from Cup Winner's Cup to Champions League but the opponents are once again from Madrid. 1998 was also the first year that Monaco played host to the Super Cup, a streak that is ending with this match - venues will now rotate around Europe, much like all other major cup finals. This should remind you of Chelsea's similar relationship with old and new Wembley; hopefully the outcomes will mirror each other as well.
And that's before we even get to the player-personnel-parallels! Fernando Torres, Thibaut Courtois, and Tiago all share common DNA. Both clubs are managed by club legends/ex-players, who took over mid-season to lead their respective teams to European glory. Roberto Di Matteo even played in the 1998 Super Cup (current Assistant Eddie Newton was on the bench), against a Real Madrid side coached by none other than Guus Hiddink, a man he may or may not have had to beat out for the current Chelsea job.
Phew! Let's just get on with it then - 90 minutes, plus extra time and penalties, if needed.
Atletico Madrid: Shook off a sluggish start away to Levante to dominate tactical darlings Athletic Bilbao in their second league match. Four-nil was the final score, Falcao dominant on the night as he generally likes to be most nights. They are carrying no injuries of note and we can bet our bottom dollar that they will be taking this one very seriously (despite having to play a league match the following Monday). Expect a sort of hybrid 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 that is strong defensively, lethal on the counter, and somewhat weak in the middle. Sound familiar?
Chelsea: Off to a great start domestically with three wins out of three (what preseason?). The early returns on Eden Hazard have, for many and certainly for mass sections of the media, made him the second coming of Gianfranco Zola already. Torres has two goals - this took him twice as many games last season and this time he didn't even get a silly red card after scoring his second, which could have started yet another spiral downward. Confidence!
Here comes that copy-n-paste bit about Marko Marin's hamstring injury: Marko Marin is out with a hamstring injury. Florent Malouda and Yossi Benayoun have been unceremoniously left home alone, just to make it quite clear how little time they have left at Chelsea. Everyone* else is healthy and available; even new boys Victor Moses and Cesar Azpilicueta are ready to feature now.
Chelsea have had four days to prepare for this, which seems like a luxury amid this early season deluge of fixtures. Expect a strong side as Di Matteo and the squad build on early season promise and cohesion and push for their first trophy:
* whoops; JT is suspended: illegal love-tap via kneeing. Gary Cahill and David Luiz it is then.