SUPER CUP: A SHORT HISTORY

On Friday evening, Chelsea will contest for silverware once again. To commence our build-up to the game, the official Chelsea website looks at the Super Cup down the years… 

The UEFA Super Cup was established by a Dutch journalist, Anton Witkamp, in 1972, and has grown to represent the beginning of European competition each season.

Since 1998, when we made our debut in the contest with a 1-0 win against Real Madrid (pictured), it has been a one-off affair played in Monaco, acting as a continental Community Shield contested between the European Cup winners of the previous season and first the Cup Winners’ Cup winners, and since 2000 the UEFA Cup (now Europa League) winners.

Friday night’s match, where we meet Atletico Madrid, will be the 15th and final game at the tight Stade Louis II Stadium, and from next year the Super Cup will become a roadshow stopping first in Prague, and then in Cardiff in 2014 and Tbilisi in 2015.

Prior to 1998, the competition (with one exception) had always been a two-legged affair, the first (which is not recognised by UEFA) pitting Ajax against Rangers in 1972, the Dutch side coming off best after victory in Glasgow was repeated in Amsterdam.

That exception was in 1991, when Red Star Belgrade were not permitted to play in their war-torn Yugoslavia and so met Manchester United at Old Trafford. Brian McClair scored the only goal.

A year later UEFA had claimed the Super Cup as their own and once again Ajax lifted the trophy following two games against AC Milan in 1974, though the following year it was not contested as Bayern Munich and FC Magdeburg could not find a convenient date, though it has been suggested the games were not played for political reasons between East and West Germany.

Since then, the Super Cup has been contested every year, with AC Milan having lifted it five times and Barcelona four. Liverpool are the most successful English club with three wins. Like us, Atletico Madrid have won it once, when they beat Inter in 2010.

UNDER 19S REPORT: CHELSEA 1 CSKA MOSCOW 2

A Chelsea Under 19 side let slip a lead and then came up against an inspired goalkeeper as the club’s first involvement in the NextGen Series ended in defeat.

The match, played at Cobham on Tuesday evening, was a group game in what is a Champions League-style competition for this age group.

The side named by Dermot Drummy for the visit by CSKA Moscow will be familiar to anyone who followed the FA Youth Cup triumph last season, but with Mitchell Beeney rather than Jamal Blackman in goal, plus places in attack for Thorgan Hazard, younger brother of Eden, and Patrick Bamford.

It was Bamford who gave Chelsea the lead and was one of the players later denied by the keeper after the Russians had turned the deficit into a half-time lead.

It took just eight minutes for Chelsea to go ahead. Hazard had shot just the wrong side of the CSKA far post following a sustained attack that he had initiated. Then Todd Kane, captain on the night and forward from right-back, was allowed the space to cross low all the way into the six-yard box where Bamford played the predator, turning the ball in from close range.

Chelsea had been alert and crisp in our passing from the kick-off, and that continued after the goal. Nikolaly Dergachev playing as a lone striker for CSKA was looking very isolated as his colleagues were forced back.

The right-footed Piazon and left-footed Hazard were swapping wings regularly while Lewis Baker, Nathaniel Chalobah and John Swift were all showing good touches in midfield.

The CSKA striker did however have a sight of the Chelsea goal with 28 minutes played when a clever chip over the Blues backline gave him a race to the ball against Beeney which the Russian won, only to float the ball wide of the post.

Chelsea went straight up the other end and Bamford drilled a low shot into the keeper’s grasp.

CSKA, who won their first game in the tournament 2-1 at home to Molde of Norway, were improving though, and it took some diligent covering from left-back Nditi to prevent Dergachev making something out of a dangerous pass into the box, and then Beeney saved a good strike from Ambartsymyan.

The warning was there and on 35 minutes came the leveller – a low shot from range by captain Zaseev that left Beeney wrong-footed as it found the bottom corner.

Three minutes later Chelsea were behind and there was nothing Beeney could possibly have done as a cross from Bagbasaryah was whipped in from the left and Dergachev thumped a header high into the net. Netfullin could have inflicted even more damage after robbing Alex Davey but fired wide.

Chalobah attempted to wrestle the initiative back with a charge forward from his own half but was soon fouled. Hazard however did manage to tease the CSKA defence with his left foot, running at pace and slipping the ball on to Piazon who drew a save out of Sengey Revyakin. Then in stoppage time the ball dropped onto Piazon’s thigh in front of goal but he couldn’t direct it on target.

For the second-half Chelsea were far more like the side seen in the opening period of the game. Dermot Drummy made one change at the interval – Jeremie Boga, still a schoolboy, on for John Swift in midfield. Not long after, Islam Feruz, striker in the Youth Cup win, came on to play wide so two players with low centre of gravity had been added.

Lewis Baker, now playing deeper, crossed promisingly but too far in front of Bamford and then Piazon almost picked out the top corner with a well-struck effort but was denied by the first of a string of good saves. Another was when the Brazilian met a Boga cross with his head at the near post.

Piazon looked the man most likely to break down CSKA and he kept the ball well in a crowded area before finding Feruz for a hammered shot that the keeper was strong to repel at the post.

Then Bamford should have scored for the second time in the game. Boga slipped past a tackle beautifully and passed forward to the England Under-19 centre-forward but the shot was too close to Revyakin who saved.

Five subs a side are permitted in this competition as long as there are only three stoppages to introduce them and Drummy altered his defence with two changes before the end.

When his attack had the ball they were coming up against a wall of white shirts but when Piazon shot on-target, the keeper pulled off a one-handed reaction save with Feruz firing into the sidenetting with the follow-up.

‘We are obviously disappointed to lose and mentally we switched off when we were 1-0 up,’ said Drummy after the final whistle.

‘CSKA started to press us and we became sloppy and started to give possession away in our defensive third and gave away sloppy goals. That is a lesson for the boys.

‘We should have won the game on chances second-half, I can’t fault their endeavour, and the keeper pulled off three really good saves and Patrick Bamford probably should have done better with the one-on-one.

‘We are in this for this level of competition but we have to be switched on.

‘Jeremie Boga is an exciting prospect. I had to ask him to play in a different position to normal to get us turned around in midfield and he did well on the ball at times and his attitude was fantastic.’

The next group game for Chelsea in this competition is on Wednesday 3 October, away to CSKA Moscow

Chelsea (4-3-3): Mitchell Beeney; Todd Kane (c), Alex Davey (Jordan Houghton 75), Nathan Ake, Adam Nditi (Kevin Wright 65); Lewis Baker, Nathaniel Chalobah, John Swift (Jeremie Boga h-t); Lucas Piazon, Patrick Bamford, Thorgan Hazard (Islam Feruz 55).

DROGBA POPS IN

On the day his departure from Chelsea was announced, Didier Drogba promised he would pay us a visit in the future. He did so at Cobham on Tuesday, arriving as training was ending and welcoming his old team-mates as they returned to the main building.

After catching up with coaches and staff as well, the Shanghai Shenhua striker spoke to the official Chelsea website…

Didier, you didn’t wait too long to visit.
Not so long – it is a break in the season in China now and also there is international duty, so I am here to see my family – and my friends here as well.

So your family has not moved to China?
No my family is here, my children.

How is the China experience?
It is good, it is a new experience and the first month has been reaching out in terms of learning new things, learning a new culture. It is very different to what I am used to in Europe, I like it.

Chelsea’s summer tour of 2011 was the first time in your life you had been to Asia, and now you are living and working there.
I was thinking about this – and it is what helped me in my decision because of what we have been doing in pre-season over there. I could see a little bit how the people are and it is nice.

Was the greeting you had in China as enthusiastic as the one you had in Thailand with Chelsea?
People may have seen the video of my arrival and the fans were really great. In the stadiums it is the same as everywhere – when you play football there is the passion.

How is Nicolas Anelka?
Nico is good. He is happy that I signed there and I am also happy that he is there to help me. Last week he gave me two assists so it is back to what we were doing here before.

Finally, how many times have you watched the Munich game again?
Not the game but I have watched the penalty many times!

CECH: HITTING TARGETS

Petr Cech has been assessing our impressive start to the new season and emphasised the importance of starting strongly.

Saturday’s victory over Newcastle United was our third straight win in less than a week, and with no league fixture now for three weeks due to our involvement in the UEFA Super Cup and an international break, the goalkeeper, who captained the side against Alan Pardew’s men, feels we are in an ideal position.

‘We’ve had the advantage of playing three games whereas most other teams have only played two,’ said Cech. ‘To be sitting on the top of the league with the Super Cup coming up, we can relax, and when we play next in the Premier League we will be in a good position. That was the target and we managed to fulfil it.

‘It’s always better if you have a base and build on it. If you make mistakes from the start, you have to keep chasing teams and then you’re dependant on other results. You are controlling your own destiny when you pick up three points every time.’

Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres, who both scored, were a constant threat throughout, and their link-up play, particularly given the fact they have only played together on a handful of occasions, was a joy to watch.

Nobody could have foreseen the magnitude of Hazard’s impact so early in the campaign, the young Belgian with one goal and five assists to his name already, and Cech has been as impressed as anybody.

‘The French league is a tough league, so it shows what a good player he is, and he’s still only 21-years-old,’ explained Cech.

‘It’s great to have players like him coming into the club. It’s tough to lose a player like Didier [Drogba], but Fernando is scoring goals again, and the likes of [Juan] Mata, Hazard and Lamps [Frank Lampard] when he’s been playing, have found a quick understanding in the midfield and it’s great to see.

‘He can make a difference on his own, and that’s what sometimes helps when you have a tight game. He takes people on and creates situations where other players can take advantage. It’s very helpful when you have tough games.’

Torres, meanwhile, appears revitalised after ending last season well and walking away with the Golden Boot at the European Championships.

His expertly-taken strike against Alan Pardew’s side was his third goal in four games – including the Community Shield against Manchester City – and with Drogba now departed, and the Spaniard first-choice striker at the club, Cech believes he is flourishing.

‘If you come to a team and not everything starts well, as it happened with him, then suddenly towards the end of the season you start playing well, scoring a few goals and win the Golden Boot with the national team at the Euros, obviously it’s a completely different story to the one when he first joined the club and you can notice the difference,’ he said.

‘He was always running and creating chances but at times he was unlucky not to score, now they are hitting the back of the net which is great.

‘You can see he’s enjoying the game, enjoying himself, he has the confidence, and if you have three goals in four games, as a striker, that’s what’s important.’

Such a solid start to the campaign, according to the Blues goalkeeper, is testament to the collective attitude and desire of the whole squad.

‘You can see we have the advantage of great defenders. You can see why Gary [Cahill] is such a good defender and why he plays for the national team, that’s why we bought him from Bolton,’ said Cech.

‘You can never play every game, but it’s great to see if JT [John Terry] is rested the other two guys can come in and do their job.

‘It comes down to the players we have, everything is gelling together, the new players are settling well with a good understanding. Ashley [Cole] and Ryan [Bertrand] on the left-hand side were brilliant on Saturday because they can swap places, so that’s a big help. We’ve been doing well with the run of results and we want to build on it.’

PAT NEVIN: TRUE FAITH

It hasn’t always been easy to stand by his judgement, but is the world outside Chelsea steadily coming round to his viewpoint? Pat Nevin explains further in this week’s column…

One of the clichés often used when you have a raft of new players at the beginning of every season is that you have to hit the ground running. Clearly Chelsea have managed to start the season scarcely breaking stride from the successful race to Munich. Maybe a bit of realism is needed however, the fixtures fell very kindly and that has certainly helped, but to stretch the metaphor to the limit, we all know that it is a marathon not a sprint.

Nonetheless it has certainly made others take notice of Chelsea when considering the ultimate destination of the league title this term. I will admit that I even thought that chasing Manchester United and City all the way this season might be a long shot, but there is no doubt the odds have come in a bit, even if we are still outsiders. Actually that is not a bad place to be, it certainly relieves some of the pressure that has weighed upon the club over the past few years. Now it is hope rather than expectation, for the fans as well as the players.

With slightly less pressure the players can be just that little bit more relaxed and I certainly believe that helps, especially if you are the creative type. Playing for the joy as opposed to playing out of fear is the best way to maximise the contributions from the likes of Mata, Moses, Oscar and Hazard. Having said that, Eden has brought down a fair bit of pressure on his own head already.By playing so exceptionally well in the first three league games, everyone in English football expects him to continue this rich, ultra-productive vein of form. I suspect he can cope because even at the tender age of 21 he has already lived with it for a few years in France with little obvious negative effect.

Looking closely at the three games so far, they have each contained sections of fabulous play followed by less impressive periods, so we will not be carried away simply by the results. Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool have already slipped up but in the case of the first two particularly, they were in extremely tricky fixtures. Just over the horizon in the league there is a run when we face Spurs, Man United, Man City and Liverpool in fairly quick succession. If we are still top of the pile then, maybe it will be time to get a little bit more excited.

I have to say I was particularly pleased with Fernando Torres’ contribution against Newcastle United. Those who read this page regularly or listen to me on TV or radio know that I stand by the idea that our striker has been very unlucky in his Chelsea career so far. In the past the team wasn’t set up for his particular style and as such the expected avalanche of goals never quite arrived last season. He did however keep making the runs, he continued to selflessly work for the team nearly all the time and he regularly sacrificed his own strengths by working wide when he and Didier were on the pitch together. While many in the media, ex pros included, called him a flop and a spent force, like many Chelsea fans I continually disagreed, in the face of mounting ridicule.

On Saturday evening I was on ESPN where the game was being transmitted live. On the show Kevin Keegan and Chelsea old boy Craig Burley once more disagreed with my synopsis of El Nino before the game. I tried very hard not to look too smug when our striker made the penalty and then scored a cracker right on the half-time whistle. Give him his due, Kevin Keegan who is the loveliest of men, accepted that Torres had had a productive first half but rightly underlined that his link-up play was less impressive. Craig also correctly noted that this one half of football was not enough to judge the contribution of a player who cost £50million.

I will however continue to stand my ground, but there is a general agreement that if our striker stays fit and contributes over 20 goals this season, then my one-man media campaign will have been proved right. It is no surprise then that no one will be celebrating his every goal more than me! The good thing is that these debates almost always take place in a friendly environment, even if there is a bit of banter surrounding it.

In the meantime there is so much to look forward to. The Champions League draw this week is a huge moment for the club. There is never really an easy group, but there are usually some that are more straight-forward than others. Then of course there is always one group of death. The fixtures were kind to us in the league and I hope the same will be said about our draw when it happens. Just like the domestic campaign you want to hit the ground running with so many new players and more importantly with such a totally altered style of play. There is also the fact that as European champions every team in the competition is desperate to beat you.

With that excitement to look forward to on Thursday there is the small matter of the European Super Cup on Friday night against Atletico Madrid hot on its heels. It is an odd statistic that of Chelsea’s last eight competitive games, four of them have been for trophies. The FA Cup, the Champions League, the Community Shield and now this showpiece event in Monaco.

Once again this is a less-pressured match, but still one that you would want to win. Trophies and medals are always significant, even though of the four, we already have the two we would prefer. Atletico are a fine side who I watched a great deal last season, with Falcao in particular a revelation up front. If you can’t manage to swan over to Monaco, (we haven’t all got yachts anchored there) this is one to sit back, relax and enjoy on TV. After all we have nine points in the bag already while Arsenal or Liverpool (or both) will drop more points when they play on Sunday and United have a tricky tie away to Southampton, ah happy days!

In last week’s quiz I asked who were the first players to be bought and sold for £1million at Chelsea? In those days it sounded like a lot of money, now I just sound like Dr Evil from the Austin Powers movies when I write it. For those who thought it was myself, the answer is no, I was sold for a paltry £925,000. There were lots of good guesses but as far as I can work out the first player we sold for over £1m was Tony Dorigo (£1.3m) to Leeds United in June 1991. Gordon Durie left later that summer to Spurs for a far higher figure. The first player we bought for over £1m was Dennis Wise (£1.6m) on the 5th of July 1991; Andy Townsend arrived soon after that for over £1million as well.

There can only be one winner of the Champions League DVD signed by one of the players involved and it is Stephanie Post from Dundee who was chosen at random.

To stand a chance of being the lucky winner of a similar prize this week, could you tell me who did Chelsea beat when they last won the trophy we are playing for on Friday?

Answers as ever to pat.nevin@chelseafc.com

Good luck to you all and KTBFFH in Monaco lads.