For the second year running the European season for Chelsea starts in August. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton are ready for the chance to claim silverware…
'He's done it!!' was how Sky Sports' Martin Tyler unforgettably announced Didier Drogba's cool, incalculable penalty stroke. 'The greatest night in the history of Chelsea Football Club! European Champions! They've beaten Bayern in their own backyard!'
His colleague Gary Neville immediately announced: 'It can never get better than this for English football, in this season, the most incredible season. The 19th of May 2012; FIFA, UEFA - stop football!'
Thankfully, although the Blues' quest for the 'holy grail' was finally achieved, the sport did continue and the two combatants from that evening find themselves at Europe's top table once more. This time it is on neutral soil, rather than 'Unsere stadt, unser stadion', as Bayern proclaimed at their Allianz Arena home. But will it, again, be Chelsea's 'pokal'?
Manuel Neuer, the beaten goalie in Munich, has already said he has vengeance on his mind. Had Chinese philosopher Confucius been a sports psychologist, he would not doubt have reminded the German: 'Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.'
Better, surely, to treat this as a higher status Community Shield with a prestigious title at the end of it for the winner and little shame for the runners-up: more about kudos than Corleone.
It's one of those finals where the qualifying and the postscript are more important than the showpiece itself. Hence the emphasis is likely to be on markers for the future and sideshows. Guardiola versus Mourinho, German versus English football, markers for the Champions League as UEFA's second and third seeds square up.
Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho met 11 times as coach of Barcelona and Real Madrid. Guardiola won five to Jose's two, although Mourinho's Inter eliminated Barça 3-2 on aggregate in the 2009/10 Champions League semi-finals
In four matches against Guardiola's Barcelona between 2009 and 2012 Chelsea won one, drew three and lost none. He took over Bayern from Jupp Heynckes, who masterminded last season's Wembley victory over Dortmund. Although 'FC Hollywood' are currently top of the Bundesliga, their defeat by the same deadly rivals in the German Super Cup last month raised eyebrows, particularly over some of Guardiola's tactical manoeuvres.
Still, last season's Champions League winners Bayern are the bookmakers' favourites to retain their title and have been drawn in Group D along with CSKA Moscow, Man City and Plzeñ of the Czech Republic.
Chelsea's Group E features familiar faces in Schalke, struggling in the first breaths of the Bundesliga season, along with Basel and Steaua Bucharest, beaten in last season's Europa League, and therefore part of the reason we are in Bohemia this evening.
The Super Cup is played between the winners of the Champions League and Europa League. Prague will be the second Super Cup venue since the competition became a one-off final in 1998 and moved to Monaco, its base for 15 seasons.
Tonight's venue, the Eden Arena (picture below), opened in 2008 and is the home ground of Slavia Prague with a capacity of 20,800. The 2014 Super Cup will be played at the 26,800-seater Cardiff City Stadium and 2015 will be at the Lokomotivi Stadium, Tbilisi, which holds around 27,200.
English teams have contested the Super Cup on 14 occasions, winning seven and losing seven. Overall in UEFA competitions there have been 12 Anglo-German finals and only two German winners.
AC Milan (5) and Barcelona (4) have won the UEFA Super Cup on the most occasions.
Last five UEFA Super Cups
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
2012 - Atlético Madrid 4-1 Chelsea
|English teams in the Super Cup|
|German teams in the Super Cup|
Only eight clubs have won the Super Cup more than once.
If necessary 30 minutes extra time will be played and then penalties if scores are still level. None of the 37 previous Super Cup finals have required a penalty shoot-out.
Chelsea have won three of our last five penalty shoot-outs, the last being at the Allianz Arena in the 2012 Champions League final against Bayern Munich, of course.
Bayern have won four of their five previous shoot-outs in European competition. The 2012 Champions League final against the Blues is their only loss.
In the two previous England v Germany encounters in the Super Cup, English teams have prevailed on both occasions:
1977 - Liverpool 7-1 Hamburg (on aggregate)
2001 - Liverpool 3-2 Bayern Munich
Bayern played their planned match for this weekend early, on Tuesday, resting some players ahead of tonight's encounter. They drew 1-1 with Freiburg.
Chelsea were scheduled to play Aston Villa this weekend but that was rearranged for last week, Chelsea winning 2-1. The Blues left Old Trafford on Monday having drawn 0-0 with Man United - Petr Cech achieving his 200th clean sheet for the Londoners. Chelsea are now unbeaten in 13 matches since March.
It was the second season running Chelsea had prevented the Red Devils from scoring at home in the Premier League; in 2012/13 we were the only club to do so. Man United's last league 0-0 at Old Trafford was 76 matches ago in 2009, against Arsenal.
Club football takes a back seat for Chelsea's players after tonight because of the international break, but there is a near-full Premier League programme this weekend.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Manchester City v Hull 12.45pm - BT Sport
Cardiff v Everton 3pm
Newcastle v Fulham 3pm
Norwich v Southampton 3pm
West Ham v Stoke 3pm
Crystal Palace v Sunderland 5.30pm - Sky Sports
Liverpool v Manchester United 1.30pm - Sky Sports
West Brom v Swansea 1.30pm
Arsenal v Tottenham 4pm - Sky Sports
|Barclays Premier League top six|
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
Jose Mourinho surprised everyone at Old Trafford on Monday by leaving Fernando Torres and Romelu Lukaku on the bench and starting with Andre Schurrle as part of a mobile and hard-working advanced four, all 22 or under. So far in this new season no striker has hit the net for the Blues.
Juan Mata was not quite fit enough to enter the fray at 0-0 late on but will be pressing for a start tonight, most likely on the right of the three in the usual 4-2-3-1.
Both sides are recognisable from those that faced each other in May 2012. Claudio Pizarro, who started upfront against Freiburg on Tuesday, also played in our 2005 encounters. Mario Mandzukic, Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben were all left out of the starting line-up, the game ending 1-1.
Although Bastian Schweinsteiger (pictured below left) hobbled off with an ankle strain he has since declared himself eager to feature. His manager may think it is not worth risking such an important team member but the position might present a weakness where so often it has been the fulcrum of Bayern's success.
The German, one of three Bayern players to have a penalty saved by Petr Cech over the course of the Champions League final, was replaced by Ribéry, with usual right-back Philipp Lahm moving into defensive midfield.
In pre-season the former Barça manager had experimented with deploying Thiago Alcantara in that role. The summer signing's ankle problem will keep him out for several more months yet, while another central midfielder, Javi Martínez, has also missed recent matches through injury.
If defenders Lahm or Jan Kirchhoff do not take his fancy for the deep-lying role in his new 4-1-4-1 formation, Guardiola may resolve to rein-in a more attacking player such as Toni Kroos or Thomas Mueller (pictured below right).
He may not want to compromise the offensive threat of new star signing Mario Gotze, though it was of course Mueller who netted Bayern's opener in the May 2012 showdown.
Chelsea's recent German acquisition Schurrle has a decent record against the Bavarians from his time at Leverkusen and Mainz. He was on the winning side in four of seven matches, contributing directly to three goals in the process.
New Blues signing Willian is not in the Super Cup squad and the same applies to another former Anzhi Makhachkala man, Samuel Eto'o, who joined the Stamford Bridge roster on yesterday. The Cameroon striker won the Champions League in 2010 with Inter under Mourinho and brings with him some the goal-area guile and presence the manager has sought since returning to Chelsea.
One player familiar with tonight's one-off Super Cup venue for the final will be Petr Cech - the Czech Republic have played several matches there.
WE HAVE HISTORY
This is Chelsea's third appearance in the UEFA Super Cup since 1998. Only Liverpool, with three wins in five, figured in more. Manchester United have won two and lost one.
The Blues' previous two matches were in 1998, a 1-0 win over Real Madrid through Gustavo Poyet, and in 2012, the last at Monaco's Louis II Stadium, which Atlético Madrid won 4-1.
Of course the most famous meeting between Chelsea and Bayern was the 2012 UEFA Champions League final on 19 May 2012. The match was at Bayern's own ground and the venue's neutrality was compromised by huge banners in the home end proclaiming 'Unsere stadt, unser stadion, unser pokal' - our city, our stadium, our trophy.
Both sides were missing several key players and an often cagey match burst into life inside the last 10 minutes when roving midfielder Thomas Mueller headed past Petr Cech. The Londoners pressed for an equaliser and Fernando Torres came on as a sub, winning a corner almost straight away.
Drogba almost fouled up during the additional period when he conceded a penalty but former Blue Arjen Robben - psyched out by onetime teammate Mikel - saw Cech save his spot kick.
The pendulum swung violently in the resulting penalty shootout, with Mata failing from the spot before Ivica Olic and Bastian Schweinsteiger did the same for the Bavarians.
That left Drogba, playing his final match for the Blues, 12 yards from immortality. From a short run-up he stroked the ball away from Manuel Neuer and into the net before setting off on a celebratory circuit bursting with joy and tears.
Chelsea had become the first London club to lift Europe's top prize and only the second side to win the Champions League and FA Cup in the same season.
This will be Chelsea and Bayern Munich's fourth competitive meeting, with the 2012 Champions League final the most recent.
Jose Mourinho and Felix Magath were in charge for our meeting in 2005.
Champions League quarter-final first leg
6 April 2005 - Stamford Bridge
Chelsea………..……4 Bayern Munich…..….…2
J Cole 3 Schweinsteiger 52
Lampard 59, 69 Ballack 90+2 pen
Champions League quarter-final second leg
12 April 2005 - Olympiastadion
Bayern Munich ……3 Chelsea…………..2
Pizarro 65 Lampard 30
Guerrero 90 Drogba 80
Chelsea beat Bayern in a cup final: 468
Bayern lost a cup final: 34
Arsenal won a trophy: 3,023
Liverpool won the league: 8,518
The Blues reached the Super Cup by beating Benfica 2-1 in the Europa League final in Amsterdam in May.
Chelsea's two previous Super Cup finals saw a 1-0 victory against Real Madrid in 1998 and a 1-4 defeat to Atlético Madrid last year.
Chelsea's last 10 years in Europe
2003/04 - Champions League - semi-final
2004/05 - Champions League - semi-final
2005/06 - Champions League - round of 16
2006/07 - Champions League - semi-final
2007/08 - Champions League - runners-up
2008/09 - Champions League - semi-final
2009/10 - Champions League - round of 16
2010/11 - Champions League - quarter-final
2011/12 - Champions League - winners
2012/13 - Europa League- winners having transferred from the Champions League group stage
|Last six results|
|Aug 4||AC Milan (New Jersey)||W 2-0|
|Aug 7||Real Madrid (Miami)||L 1-3|
|Aug 10||Roma (Washington DC)||W 2-1|
|Aug 18||Hull City (h)||W 2-0|
|Aug 21||Aston Villa (h)||W 2-1|
|Aug 26||Manchester United (a)||D 0-0|
Ivanovic 1, Lampard 1, Oscar 1, own goal 1
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Sat 14 Sep||Everton away||5.30pm|
|Wed 18 Sep||FC Basel home||7.45pm|
|Sat 21 Sep||Fulham home||5.30pm|
If selected, Frank Lampard will make his 100th European start for the club, Michael Essien will play his 50th Chelsea game in Europe and Cesar Azpilicueta will make his 50th Blues competitive appearance.
BAYERN MUNICH STATS
23 league titles, last in 2013
16 German FA Cups, last in 2013
6 German League Cups, last in 2007
4 German Super Cups, last in 2012
5 European Cups/Champions Leagues, last in 2013
1 European Cup Winners' Cup in 1967
1 UEFA Cup in 1996
2 Intercontinental Cups, last in 2001
Last 10 league seasons
2003/04 - Runners-up
2004/05 - Champions
2005/06 - Champions
2006/07 - 4th
2007/08 - Champions
2008/09 - Runners-up
2009/10 - Champions
2010/11 - 3rd
2011/12 - Runners-up
2012/13 - Champions
Bayern qualified for the Super Cup by beating Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at Wembley with Chelsea old boy Arjen Robben scoring the winner in the 89th minute.
After winning their group, Bayern eliminated Arsenal in the last 16, Juventus in the quarters and Barcelona by an astonishing 7-0 in the semi-final.
Bayern have lost all their three previous Super Cup finals, to Dynamo Kiev (1975), Anderlecht (1976) and Liverpool (2001).
Bayern have met English opposition on five occasions in UEFA finals, winning one and losing four.
Ten-year European record
2003/04 - Champions League round of 16
2004/05 - Champions League quarter-finals
2005/06 - Champions League round of 16
2006/07 - Champions League quarter-final
2007/08 - UEFA Cup semi-final
2008/09 - Champions League quarter-final
2009/10 - Champions League runners-up
2010/11 - Champions League round of 16
2011/12 - Champions League runners-up
2012/13 - Champions League winners
After the 2-0 victory over Nurnberg at the weekend, Guardiola made seven changes with Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, David Alaba, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Mario Mandzukic starting on the bench, and Thiago out injured.
Bayern are now undefeated in 29 league games and not lost any of their last 20 matches away from home, and have scored in 41 games in a row.
|Last six results|
|Jul 27||Borussia Dortmund (German Super Cup a)||L 2-4|
|Aug 5||BSV Rehden (Cup a)||W 5-0|
|Aug 9||Borussia Monchengladbach (h)||W 3-1|
|Aug 17||Eintract Frankfurt (a)||W 1-0|
|Aug 24||Nurnberg (h)||W 2-0|
|Aug 27||Freiburg (a)||D 1-1|
|Bundesliga table top five|
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
The referee is Jonas Eriksson from Sweden. He was the official when we beat Basel 3-1 in the Europa League second leg at Stamford Bridge to reach last season's final.
There are no suspensions. Any bookings tonight will not be carried over to the Champions League, although red cards will.