European silverware is at stake on the banks of the Bosphorus. Tonight's Super Cup is an all-English affair, and here club historian Rick Glanvill looks forward to Liverpool vs Chelsea in the city where Europe meets Asia...
This clash of European royalty - Chelsea and Liverpool - will be the 60th meeting between the pair since 2000, making it the most played fixture in all competitions between English sides in the 21st century.
Premier League clubs made history with the clean sweep of participants in UEFA’s finals, so it was inevitable this would be the first all-England Super Cup. Chelsea earned a place by humbling local rivals Arsenal 4-1 in the Europa League final, while Liverpool edged Tottenham 2-0 in an underwhelming Champions League denouement.
The showpiece event will also become the highest profile men’s game to be refereed by a woman, a development warmly welcomed by head coach Frank Lampard. France’s Stephanie Frappart has previously officiated a Ligue 1 game between Amiens and Strasbourg, and in England, of course, referee’s assistant Sian Massey-Ellis has run Premier League lines with distinction for more than eight years.
The UEFA Super Cup will feature two English teams for the first time in its history. (Italy and Spain have provided both teams in the past)
— Key stat
The teams arrive on the banks of the Bosphorus in very different nick after the opening skirmishes of the league campaign. The Reds have had two days extra to digest their Anfield victory over newly promoted Norwich, as well as the loss of their talismanic goalkeeper Alisson.
Their 40-game unbeaten home run is now the best by any Premier League club since Chelsea managed an extraordinary 86 without loss at the Bridge between March 2004 and October 2008.
The Blues’ second-half wounds from a somewhat unfortunate 0-4 loss at Old Trafford will obviously be fresher, and Frank Lampard has to factor in that this is not the first time a Chelsea side has suddenly succumbed to a flurry of goals – Bournemouth and Manchester City were examples last season, as were the Cherries (again) and Watford the previous winter.
Even during the campaign that ultimately led to Europa League glory in May (and, as a consequence, tonight’s match) Slavia Prague were able to bang three in over 20 mad quarter-final minutes before the Blues prevailed 4-3.
This season was always going to need a rebuild to restore more of the classic Chelsea resilience and key players - N’Golo Kante at the weekend, Willian and Toni Rudiger, perhaps, tonight - are gradually returning to fitness. Lampard will also have taken heart from the way his side ran the game in the first half, and the fresh dynamism of a young team featuring three former Academy starters.
It was a lack of decisiveness in both boxes, he observed, that cost points. The team with the most thumps against the goal-frame last season (15) already top the woodwork list in the 2019/20 Premier League, level with tonight’s opponents on two.
Liverpool transfers and team news
The summer transfer window was a quiet one for Liverpool, but they will be grateful they signed free agent Adrian on a free transfer following back-up goalkeeper Simon Mignolet’s return to Belgium. Their usual number one, Alisson Becker, sustained an injury against the Canaries that will reportedly rule him out for between four and eight weeks. As Vitezslav Jaros and Caoimhin Kelleher are also out of action, the former West Ham man is the only fit custodian in their senior squad. He came off the bench on Friday to make his first Premier League appearance for 15 months.
The Reds will probably keep faith with Joe Gomez as Virgil Van Dijk’s partner at centre-back, despite several scares in the win against Norwich, who managed to sneak in behind and create chances.
Africa Cup of Nations finalist Sadio Mane is likely to return to the left of the front three in place of Divock Origi.
Super Cup and Champions League catch-up
Chelsea will earn €3.5m for appearing in the UEFA Super Cup, with a potential bonus of €1m for winning the trophy.
Any red cards awarded tonight will be carried over to the 2019/20 Champions League campaign, whereas yellow cards will not.
Whether we consider the Super Cup a proper trophy or more exotic species of Community Shield, it is there to be won, and it is a rare reward available to just two very successful clubs each year.
Jurgen Klopp, who lost three UEFA finals before finally achieving success in May with Liverpool, offered a wry observation on the showpiece fixture.
‘It’s not a cup I really watched in the past because I was so often in either final, it’s obviously the final proof you didn’t win that game,’ he said. ‘So that’s completely different this year.’
The Reds were beaten by Manchester City in the Community Shield 10 days ago, so the German’s grip on a second possibly trophy of the season could be removed by the Blues tonight.
Only Carlo Ancelotti, whose first match in charge was the 2009 Community Shield against Manchester United, and Maurizio Sarri, who faced Man City last year, have been offered the chance of silverware earlier than Frank Lampard in his spell as new Blues coach.
The Londoners remained unbeaten throughout a 15-match campaign in Europe last season under Sarri (12 wins, three draws), a Europa League record. That forms the club record 15-game unbeaten run on the continent. (The last defeat was at Barcelona in March 2018.)
Last season, honours were even between the two teams across all competitions. Chelsea won at Anfield in the Carabao Cup and lost in the league, while a last-minute Daniel Sturridge equaliser salvaged a point for the Reds at the Bridge.
The story of the Super Cup
Back in 1972, when the Super Cup was first proposed, English football fans were scornful of the idea of crowning the ultimate kings of Europe. One newspaper published a sarcastic reader’s letter proposing the winners of not just the European Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup, but also the Anglo-Italian Cup and Texaco Cup champions should play a Summer Super Cup – sponsored by a soporific bedtime drink.
In fact the Super Cup’s first incarnation would take place in the winter, in January 1973, and involved the 1972 winners of the European Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup – Ajax and Rangers.
It was not endorsed by UEFA as the Glaswegians were serving a ban following a pitch invasion and fighting by their fans during the decisive beating of Dynamo Moscow in the Cup Winners’ Cup final.
Financial and logistical support came instead from the Netherlands’ best-selling newspaper, De Telegraaf, whose sports reporter Anton Witkamp had originally conceived the idea. Matches took place in Glasgow and Amsterdam, with Ajax wining 6-3 on aggregate.
Under the UEFA umbrella from 1973, the trophy remained a two-legged affair until 1997. Cup Winners’ Cup holders Chelsea won the first ever one-off match by beating European Cup champions Real Madrid in Monaco in 1998.
English clubs in the Super Cup
In 2013 Chelsea became the first English club to scoop all three of UEFA’s major prizes – the European Cup/Champions League, UEFA Cup/Europa League, and Cup Winners’ Cup – joining Ajax, Bayern Munich, and Juventus. Manchester United entered the European elite in 2017. All five have also won the Super Cup. Victory in Istanbul would bring Chelsea’s seventh European success – one more than United’s tally.
English clubs' to have won multiple European trophies
Chelsea vs Liverpool in Europe
Chelsea were the last English team to defeat Liverpool in Europe – a brilliant 3-1 victory at Anfield in the Champions League quarter-finals in 2009.
In total the Londoners have won three, drawn five, and lost two of the 10 previous encounters with Liverpool in UEFA competitions. All were in the Champions League and many produced moments that are indelible in the memory, including Luis Garcia’s ‘ghost’ goal of May 2005, Jon Arne Riise’s immortal own goal equaliser in April 2008, and that ‘two-goal Branislav Ivanovic’ display in April 2009.
There can be little doubt that Chelsea’s current head coach, Frank Lampard, was at the centre of the most emotional, however. Keeping his nerve a few days after the death of his mother in April 2008, the midfielder dispatched a penalty that had the whole of the Bridge holding its breath and sharing his intimate moment. The eventual 4-3 aggregate win took the Blues to the Champions League final in Moscow.
Previous UEFA meetings
2004/05 semi-final - Liverpool won 1-0 on aggregate
2005/06 group stage - both games ended goalless
2006/07 semi-final - Liverpool won on penalties after a 1-1 draw on aggregate
2007/08 semi-final - Chelsea won 4-3 on aggregate
2008/09 quarter-final - Chelsea won 7-5 on aggregate
While a Chelsea player Frank Lampard scored seven goals in 39 games (18 wins, 8 draws and 13 defeats) against Liverpool. He was skipper when the Blues were beaten in the 2012 and 2013 Super Cup games against Atletico and Bayern Munich.
What's next for Chelsea teams
Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester, the first Premier League visitors to the Bridge this season on Sunday, have a clear week.
Chelsea Women’s history-making WSL-opener at Stamford Bridge against newly-promoted Tottenham on 8 September is sold out, but a waiting list is open in case of returns.
Having opened their EFL Trophy campaign with a 3-2 win at Swindon Town and then beaten Derby County in the PL2 on Monday, Andy Myers' side host Liverpool at the Bridge next Monday 19 August. Tickets are on general sale now. They are just £5 for adults and FREE for all concessions.
Chelsea's record in penalty shoot-outs and in Turkey
Chelsea have been involved in five penalty shoot-outs in European competitions, winning in Munich in 2012 and against Eintracht Frankfurt in last season’s semi-final, and losing the other three.
This evening’s venue, Vodafone Park, incorporates elements of host club Besiktas’s previous stadium, whose stand held the distinction of offering views of Europe and Asia, as well as the mighty river Bosphorus that separates the two continents.
The Super Cup will be the Blues’ fourth competitive match in Istanbul (the past three produced one win, one draw, and one defeat) but the first at Besiktas’s ground – the 2-0 Champions League win away to the Turkish side in 2003/04 was played in Gelsenkirchen for security reasons.
Chelsea vs Liverpool key info
Kick-off: 8pm UK time
Referee: Stephanie Frappart
VAR: Clement Turpin
Suspensions: Chelsea – none; Liverpool – none
Injuries: Chelsea – Hudson-Odoi, James, Loftus-Cheek; Liverpool – Alisson, Clyne
In the event of a draw: extra time will be played, then penalty kicks if required
Substitutes: 12 can be named, three used, or four if extra time is required