Chelsea eyes, used to turning towards Monte Carlo at this time of the year for the Champions League draw, have reason to keep gazing on. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton look at our second Super Cup against opposition from the Spanish capital in part one of their preview…
Created in 1972 by a Dutchman determined to show that his fellow countrymen Ajax were the continent's top dogs, the Super Cup remains something of an honorary title rather than empirical proof of superiority.
Never the less, you have to be in it to win it. By becoming the first London club to win the Champions League, this Chelsea side are also the first from the capital to contest the trophy since their forebears, Wise, Desailly, Zola and co. in 1998.
Roberto Di Matteo, who tonight plots to make Chelsea the eighth club to have won the Super Cup more than once, played in midfield during the Blues' 1-0 victory over Real Madrid 14 years ago. No other London side has won this trophy.
It is fitting that the winners of the first Super Cup of the long Stade Louis II residency should also participate in the last, after which the match becomes a moveable feast. In it will be played in Prague, followed by Cardiff in 2014 and Tbilisi in 2015.
A UEFA event since its second year, 1973, and known as the European Super Cup until 1992, the early competition led something of a wild-child existence. The fact the 1973 contest was played in 1974 speaks volumes.
Until 1998, when Monaco became home (pictured below), it was of no fixed abode or date, beginning as a two-legged affair scheduled at the convenience of the contestants: the winners of the previous season's European Cup and Cup-Winners' Cup (later the winners of the UEFA Cup, and now Europa League).
However, it was reduced to a single match in a neutral ground on several occasions and in 1974, when the qualifiers were our vanquished opponents Bayern Munich and Magdeburg - on either side of a divided Germany - politics meant the event did not take place at all. (The first of three blank seasons over the years.)
The experience of England representatives is telling. Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest played Barcelona home and away over two weeks in January 1980; Aston Villa did exactly the same three years later. Other times it was squeezed around the domestic calendar in September or December.
Although Clough's announcement back in 1980 that he would be treating the games 'as seriously as any other European tie', only 23,000 attended the City Ground leg, with 80,000 at Camp Nou. (Like Chelsea last season, a draw was enough for Forest to beat the Catalans at home on aggregate.)
Just 22,000 turned up on a chilly Tuesday in November 1991 to see Man United beat Red Star Belgrade at Old Trafford - 7,000 down on their average gate at the time, and their worst home crowd of the season.
If the European public appear to take the 'exhibition match' more seriously than their English counterpart, the same might be levelled at clubs. Only Liverpool, with three, are multiple winners so far.
English teams have contested the Super Cup on 13 occasions winning seven and losing six. Spanish teams have played in 16 finals winning nine and losing seven. AC Milan (five) and Barcelona (four) have won the Super Cup the most times.
Impressive young Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, signed from Genk in July last year and loaned to tonight's opponents, is in line to play against his parent club. Unlike the Premier League, Uefa allows loan players to play. Last season he kept 23 clean sheets in 52 games in all competitions, including the final, a 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao.
If necessary 30 minutes extra time will be played and then penalties if scores are still level.
Chelsea have won three of our last five penalty shoot-outs, the last being at the Allianz Arena for the Champions League final against Bayern Munich.
Atlético have lost all three previous shoot-outs in European competition.
|English teams in the Uefa Super Cup|
Last five years
2007 - AC Milan 3-1 Sevilla
2008 - Zenit St Petersburg 2-1 Manchester United
2009 - Barcelona 1-0 Shakhtar Donetsk (aet)
2010 - Atlético Madrid 2-0 Inter
2011 - Barcelona 2-0 Porto
The Stade Louis II has a capacity of 18,523.
There is a full Premier League programme this weekend apart from Chelsea v Reading, which was scheduled for this weekend but brought forward and played on 22 August, resulting in the 4-2 win that puts the Blues top of the Premier League. Only Swansea (+8 goal difference to Chelsea's +6) and Everton (+3) can leapfrog Di Matteo's men with a win at the weekend, going into a two-week international break.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
West Ham v Fulham 12.45pm - Sky Sports
Swansea v Sunderland 3pm
Tottenham v Norwich 3pm
West Brom v Everton 3pm
Wigan v Stoke 3pm
Manchester City v QPR 5.30pm - ESPN
Liverpool v Arsenal 1.30pm - Sky Sports
Newcastle v Aston Villa 4pm
Southampton v Manchester United 4pm - Sky Sports
Barclays Premier League
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
WE HAVE HISTORY
Chelsea and Atlético have met only twice before competitively, during the group stage of the 2009/10 Champions League. Salomon Kalou (pictured below) scored twice either side of the break to set up a 4-0 win at the Bridge. Frank Lampard and Colombian centre-back Luis Perea with an own goal completed the scoring.
The return in Madrid was a far more competitive night. Didier Drogba returned from suspension (following his protests at the refereeing of Tom Ovrebo the previous season) and struck twice in the last eight minutes to overturn a brilliant earlier goal from Sergio Agüero. Drogba had also hit the post. The Argentinean, now with Manchester City, had the final word though, his free kick levelling the final score at 2-2.
The four points taken off the 'mattress-makers' were enough to finish top of Group D. Los Colchoneros came third and transferred to the Europa Cup, which they eventually won beating Fulham 2-1 in the final in Hamburg.
Goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo and midfielder Raul Garcia are the only players in the Atlético squad who featured in those games. Lampard, Malouda, Cech, Ivanovic, Cole, Terry, Essien and Sturridge are still at Chelsea.
21 October 2009, Group D, Stamford Bridge
Chelsea………..…..4 Atlético Madrid…..….…0
Kalou 40, 52
Perea o.g. 90
3 November 2009, Group D, Estadio Vicente Calderón
Atlético Madrid ..….......2 Chelsea...............2
Agüero 66, 90+1 Drogba 82, 88
In the four previous England v Spain encounters in the Super Cup, Spain have prevailed only once:
1979 - Nottingham Forest 2-1 Barcelona (on aggregate)
1980 - Nottingham Forest 2-2 Valencia (on aggregate, Valencia won on away goals)
1982 - Barcelona 1-3 Aston Villa (on aggregate)
1998 - Real Madrid 0-1 Chelsea
Visit at lunchtime for part two of the Pre-Match Briefing...