Chelsea are back, and also back in the UEFA Super Cup specifically for the fourth time in the last ten years, a testament to our success on the grandest of European stages — 2 Champions Leagues and 2 Europa Leagues, if you’re keeping count — but contrary to popular belief (such as this hilarious oversight from the Times, even), we have actually been here before we were conjured into existence by Abramovich’s billions in 2003. In fact, our appearance in 1998 remains the only time we’ve actually won this showpiece showoff between the champions of the two biggest European competitions the season prior.
TV preview of Wed's match in Sunday Times.— Iain Rodger ⭐⭐ (@IainRodger1) August 8, 2021
And there was me thinking we won it in 1998... pic.twitter.com/KaIny7I9bo
Win or lose, this game is unlikely to have the magnitude and impact of that 1-0 win over Real Madrid, but starting the new season with a win is certainly better than starting it with not a win. Plus, it’s an actual trophy, though one that by itself won’t constitute success at the end of the season. We’ve got plenty of time to worry about that however. Let’s get it!
Date / Time: Wednesday, August 11, 2021, 20.00 BST; 3pm EDT; 12:30am IST (next day)
Venue: Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Referee: Sergei Karasev (on pitch); Marco Fritz (VAR)
Forecast: rain rain rain go away
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); CBS Sports Network, Univision, TUDN (USA); Sony TEN 2 (India); SuperSport Premier League, Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BT Sport Live (UK); Paramount+, Univision Now (USA); Sony LIV (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: Despite many players returning only recently, the 24-man traveling squad consists of every first-team player, with only a couple fringe players and loan returnees like Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Trevoh Chalobah thrown in. Whether Tuchel decides to treat this game primarily as a fitness exercise or as a chance to win an actual trophy or just as reward for dedication and professionalism (a final runout for Tammy Abraham, for example?) — or a bit of all three — will determine who gets to start and play (we do get five subs in this one).
Tuchel has already hinted at the difficult task he faces in terms of rotating the squad, while challenging on all fronts (especially in the Premier League) — that job starts with this game, the first of possibly as many as over 60 coming up this season (including the Club World Cup). Good luck to us all.
Villarreal team news: The Yellows have packed their Submarine full of just about every player for this trip to Belfast, though of course they can’t all play. Injuries have also ruled out Dani Parejo and once Chelsea-linked Samuel Chukwueze. Former Spurs flop Juan Foyth suffered a knock yesterday but looks to be okay to play. Pau Torres (briefly also linked with Chelsea) has not had any rest this summer, but will apparently also play.
Other familiar names may include Étienne Capoue, Raúl Albiol, Alberto Moreno (once of Liverpool), Paco Alcácer, and Francis Coquelin, presumably still spinning after THAT Hazard goal against Arsenal.
Villarreal finished seventh in La Liga, but beat Manchester United in the Europa League final thanks to one of the more remarkable penalty shootouts ever witnessed on such a stage.
View from the enemy: Villarreal USA
Previously: Our record isn’t great in this “competition”, having lost three in a row. But we’ve scored some pretty good goals in the process. The Torres and Hazard goals against Bayern remain foremost in my memories for some reason, though of course we can’t forget about Poyet’s historic strike in 1998.