DI MATTEO: SUFFERING FOR THE SUPER CUP

Roberto Di Matteo is hoping he can achieve as a manager what he did as a player in 1998, and win the Uefa Super Cup for Chelsea.

The former midfielder was in the side 14 years ago when Gustavo Poyet struck the only goal against Real Madrid in the Stade Louis II, and tomorrow we meet their city neighbours Atletico thanks to our Champions League victory in Munich in May.

‘The consequence of that night is why we’re here and we shouldn’t forget how hard it was to be here,’ the Italian said. ‘It was a very difficult road and took a lot of suffering to be able to win it and be able to play this game and be involved in the European Super Cup. I feel very strongly about it and hopefully we can win the game tomorrow.’

Facing us will be a team Di Matteo holds in the highest regard, which lifted the Europa League last season and has begun its 2012/13 campaign impressively, most recently winning 4-0 against Athletic Bilbao thanks to a Falcao hat-trick and a strike from former Chelsea midfielder Tiago.

‘I have seen Falcao a lot, he is a superb player from watching the last couple of seasons. He is one of the best strikers in the world and I think he will be a big threat for us tomorrow night,’ Di Matteo said.

‘Atletico Madrid is a very good team – they won the Europa League last season and started off well again. I watched their games and they have a lot of quality with a good coach in Diego Simeone.’

Despite the Spaniards’ class, we have plenty of our own, and Di Matteo was asked about Fernando Torres, an Atletico fan, and his early season form which has already yielded three goals. It was suggested that Torres has found form thanks to the departure of Didier Drogba, but the manager disagrees.

‘I believe competition is very important for professional sportsmen. I don’t think the way Fernando has started is because Drogba is not here,’ Di Matteo said. ‘I thought he had a very good end to the last season for us. He made a lot of assists and works extremely hard, and scored some important goals. He started this season well and has competition also, we have Daniel Sturridge as well and I believe competition is very important for us.’

Time was also given to the topic of Eden Hazard, who has set English football ablaze with his dribbling and eye for a pass.

‘He’s brought a lot of creativity and different options to us but he is not the only one. He has linked up with Juan Mata and the other midfield players and Fernando, we have seen they have a very good understanding,’ Di Matteo assessed. ‘His impact is very positive at the beginning of the season but also thanks to the rest of the team that he has been able to settle smoothly.

‘I am pleased with the start we had and also with the way we have been playing at the beginning of the season. We can still improve a lot and we have some players we need to integrate who need to adapt a little bit to our team and shape.

‘It is always good to have a good start, it brings a lot of confidence to the players and the belief we can have a good season but we still have to work a lot to be able to be challenging for the top.’

Di Matteo’s team news explained that Yossi Benayoun, Florent Malouda and Marko Marin have not travelled. ‘Benayoun was ill for the last two days and Malouda was just a technical decision from my point of view. The rest are all here,’ he said. Marin is still recovering from a hamstring problem.

For now though the focus is not on Cobham or Stamford Bridge, it is all about a one-off fixture in Europe’s most exclusive venue. For Di Matteo, there is the hope of history repeating on Friday night.

‘It was 14 years ago, so a long time ago, the last time the club won this trophy and it would be nice for us to be able to continue this positive start to this season that we had,’ he said.

It would be the perfect way to commence our European campaign.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: 32 TEAMS AWAIT THEIR FATE

Just over three months after Chelsea were crowned European champions, we will discover how we begin our defence of the title when the group stage draw takes place in Monaco this afternoon (Thursday).

The scheduled start of the draw is at 4.45pm UK time, with the Chelsea squad in the principality ahead of the Super Cup match the following evening.

When it comes to the Champions League draw, we will take our place in the Pot 1 containing the eight top-seeded teams which means no rematch with Bayern Munich nor Barcelona at this stage of the competition. We will also be kept away from Spanish and Portuguese champions Real Madrid and Porto, and Italian runners-up AC Milan who are also in Pot 1.

Instead the Serie A champions Juventus are potential group stage opponents as they are in Pot 2 containing the next eight highest seeds. Manchester City, as a fellow English club, cannot be drawn in the same group as Chelsea, which leaves six other possibilities.

A draw against Benfica would pit us against our quarter-final opponents from last season and there is another Portuguese club in the pot. Braga were third in their domestic league last season and are in the Champions League for a second time having beaten Udinese on penalties in a qualifier.

We faced Valencia in last season’s group stage and Schalke back in 2007. The Gelsenkirchen side finished third in the Bundesliga last campaign. The rest of Pot 2 comes from eastern Europe and would all be new opposition for Chelsea.

Dynamo Kiev, who beat Borussia Monchengladbach in a qualifier this week, play in the stadium that saw Fernando Torres and Juan Mata score in the Euro 2012 final. Shakhtar Donetsk hosted a Euro 2012 semi-final in their stadium, plus England’s matches against France and hosts Ukraine. Zenit St. Petersburg are the reigning Russian champions.

Pot 3 contains our recent pre-season opponents, Carlo Ancelotti’s Paris St-Germain, who have reached this stage for the first time since they were in Chelsea’s group in 2004. Italian champions Juventus are a tough prospect for anyone drawing them as the third seeded team in their group and there are plenty of other former opponents of ours in the shape of Spartak Moscow, Anderlecht, Galatasaray and Olympicos – the last three all champions in their countries.

There are just two potentially new Champions League opponents in Pot 3. Ajax were top in the Netherlands last season and Eden Hazard would be able to brief his team-mates well should we draw Lille, who now have Salomon Kalou in their squad. As the third-placed team in France, the club from just the other side of the channel tunnel came through the qualifiers where they beat FC Copenhagen.

Borussia Dortmund, winners of the league and cup double in Germany last season, will be the team everyone wants to avoid from Pot 4 which contains the lowest seeds.

Only Cluj from Romania among the eight teams have played Chelsea in European competition previously. Malaga are the fourth Spanish side in the draw and are making their debut in the Champions League having seen off Panathinaikos in a qualifier.

Celtic raises the prospect of our first Champions League match against Scottish opposition and we have not travelled to Croatia either who are represented by their champions Dinamo Zagreb.

BATE Borisov of Belarus have been a regular feature of the group stage of late but the champions of France and Denmark, Montpellier and Nordsjælland, are debutants.

The full list of teams in the group stage draw is:


Pot 1

Chelsea (Eng)
Barcelona (Esp)
Manchester United (Eng)
Bayern Munich (Ger)
Real Madrid (Esp)
Arsenal (Eng)
Porto (Por)
AC Milan (Ita)

Pot 2
Valencia (Esp)
Benfica (Por)
Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukr)
Zenit St. Petersburg (Rus)
Schalke (Ger)
Manchester City (Eng)
Sporting Braga (Por)
Dynamo Kiev (Ukr)


Pot 3

Olympiacos (Gre)
Ajax (Ned)
Anderlecht (Bel)
Juventus (Ita)
Spartak Moscow (Rus)
Paris St-Germain (Fra)
Lille (Fra)
Galatasaray (Tur)


Pot 4

Celtic (Sco)
Borussia Dortmund (Ger)
BATE Borisov (Bls)
Dinamo Zagreb (Cro)
CFR Cluj (Rom)
Malaga (Esp)
Montpellier (Fra)
FC Nordsjælland (Den)

TORCH HONOUR FOR CHELSEA COMMUNITY FC

Chelsea Football Club was once again involved in an iconic torch relay as members of our Chelsea Community FC team carried the flame ahead of the Paralympic opening ceremony in London tonight (Wednesday).

Last month former England captain and Chelsea fan Lawrence Dallaglio brought the London 2012 Olympic torch into Stamford Bridge during his leg of that relay. Westminster at lunchtime today was the location for Chelsea Community FC, which is our official pan-disability football club, to play their part.

Lord Sebastian Coe nominated the players to take part in the relay so braving the capital city’s late summer rain that arrived the moment they lit their torch, Sami El-Kasef, Gareth Canning, Jay Beckford and Matt Slough, plus Chelsea FC Foundation’s Football+ development manager Rob Seale, ran from Westminster Abbey along Artillery Row in the direction of Victoria.

Sami and Gareth both have cerebral palsy while Jay is visually impaired and Matt has learning difficulties.

‘It was absolutely fantastic,’ said Searle.

‘Some of the younger members of our club came along and were at the side of road chanting “Chelsea, Chelsea” and the guys savoured every moment of it. The crowd drew our attention first and then we looked up and thought wow, that is Westminster Abbey or that is Trafalgar Square behind us.

‘There was a bit of a delay with the torch so there was time to get to know the other torchbearers and now some are going to come along to our training sessions. So, as a bonus, we’ve managed to get a few new players out of today as well!’

Football is one of the Paralympic events with a five-a-side and seven-a-side competition taking place in the Olympic Park.

Josh Beacham, who came through the Cerebral Palsy Centre of Excellence which the Chelsea Foundation opened in 2011, was part of the GB squad but unfortunately might be ruled out through injury.

‘A few of our guys have got tickets to the football,’ says Seale, ‘and with my recent involvement with the England Blind Development Squad, I was lucky enough to work with some of the players who will be in the Paralympics.

‘It really is the top of the game; everyone wants to play in the Paralympics. GB teams competed in Beijing and Sydney do they are established and that’s exactly what everyone’s after, a place in the GB squad.’

Click to read more information about Chelsea Community FC.

 ‘Sport doesn’t care who you are. Everyone can take part’. Like that sentiment? Please watch & share this powerful new video previewing the raw athleticism of the Paralympics.
If this video gets one million views, one lucky Chelsea FC fan will win a Samsung Galaxy S3.

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).