UEFA Super Cup- Access Denied?

Apart from the Club World Cup, Chelsea have won a trophy in every major competition that they have participated in, from the UEFA Champions League to the League Cup (now known as the Carabao Cup). A big reason why this was achieved was because of the arrival of the Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich era. The only cup we haven’t won in this era is the UEFA Super Cup. The last time Chelsea won this was before Roman’s arrival, back in 1998. Today, we’ll be taking a look at Chelsea’s last FOUR attempts to win the UEFA Super Cup.

1998, The Champions

After winning the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, a Gianluca Vialli Chelsea led side flew to Monaco to take on the UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid at the Stade Louis II stadium on the 28th of August 1998. Both sides were star-studded, with Real Madrid having the likes of Roberto Carlos, Clarence Seedorf and Raul González managed by Guus Hiddink whereas captain Dennis Wise, Gus Poyet, Gianfranco Zola were led by the then player-manager aged 33, Gianluca Vialli after Ruud Gullit got sacked. Man of the Match Gus Poyet proved to be the difference at the end of the 90 minutes encounter when his goal separated both sides when the final whistle was blown giving Chelsea their first Super Cup win in their first-ever participation of the final.

2012, Ruthless Atlético Madrid

The 2012 Super Cup match saw Chelsea (UEFA Champions League winners for the first time) play the UEFA Europa League holders Atlético Madrid from Spain. Chelsea went into the game without their star man Didier Drogba who had departed after the UEFA Champions League triumph a couple of months back and without their skipper John Terry who was still serving a suspension. Atlético Madrid, on the other hand, were allowed to field Chelsea’s loanee goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. Just like in the final against Bayern Munich, Chelsea were the less dominant side but this time they quickly went down in the opening six minutes after Columbian Radamel Falcao found the back of the net. It only took him 39 minutes to claim the official match ball after he completed his hat trick just before the break, Chelsea heading back to the dressing room three goals down. Roberto Di Matteo’s men then found themselves trailing four goals to nil at the stroke of the hour mark after Miranda’s goal confirmed ‘Game Over’ status. Gary Cahill got a consolation with 15 minutes left to play but the damage was already done due to the brilliance of Radamel Falcao. A ruthless Atlético Madrid edging out a toothless Chelsea in a completely one-sided game.

2013, Revenge Time.

After being knocked out of the UEFA Champions League 2012/13 campaign, Chelsea were sent to the UEFA Europa League campaign where they were crowned champions after defeating Portuguese side Benfica in the final game. This sent them to the Eden Arena in Prague, Czech Republic for another thrilling encounter against German giants Bayern Munich on the 30th of August. This was more than just a Super Cup final because, for one, it reignited the rivalry between Jose Mourinho (Chelsea boss, formerly at Real Madrid) and Pep Guardiola (Bavarians manager formerly at FC Barcelona). Secondly, Bayern were heading to this game with revenge in their minds after losing to Chelsea on their own turf in the previous year. This time around, Chelsea went up after eight minutes when Eden Hazard set up Spanish forward Fernando Torres to find the opener. Bayern later equalized through Frank Ribery and fifteen minutes later, Chelsea’s Ramires got the marching orders after receiving his second yellow card for a bookable offence. The regular time ended in a 1-1 draw and Jose Mourinho’s side headed into Extra time with a man less. This, however, didn’t hinder them from regaining the lead just after 3 minutes with the Eden Hazard, the opener’s provider, turning to be the scorer this time round putting the ball past Manuel Neuer and into the back of the net.

Jose Mourinho is well known for his defensive antics and Pep Guardiola is a more attacking manager, playing the popular ‘Tiki-Taka’ type of football. This was more inevitable for the rest of the game as Chelsea had just one shot on target in Extra Time while Bayern had much of the ball possession, with more than 60% of it. Ramires’s absence proved costly for the English side as Chelsea lost their lead with seconds left to play after Javi Martinez equalized sending the teams to another penalty shootout, just like in the Uefa Champions League one in 2012. It was the first time a Uefa Super Cup final was being decided through shootouts. The opening four penalties for each side had no drama as compared to the previous one the last time they faced each other. John Terry and Romelu Lukaku came on as substitutes but the former didn’t take it, so it was Lukaku’s moment to make the even the odds but his kick from 12 yards wasn’t enough to beat German shot-stopper Manuel Neuer who dived to his left and saved. Handing Chelsea it’s second consecutive Super Cup defeat, another Pep Guardiola win over his former rival in Spain, Bayern Munich’s revenge complete making them the first German side to win the Super Cup and Chelsea jetted back to London with the ‘losers’ medal’.

2019 – Chelsea Vs Liverpool

Both the 2019 Champions League and Europa League finals were all English encounters and this automatically meant the Super Cup final would be the same. Chelsea flew to Istanbul and were without their prolific winger and talisman Eden Hazard who had scored a brace and set up another goal in the 4-1 thrashing of London rivals Arsenal in the Europa League final. There were also a couple of changes in Chelsea’s technical team with former player and legend Frank Lampard commanding from the dugout alongside Jody Morris who was part of the 1998 Super cup win. The Chelsea squad had many changes, with a lot of academy players and loanees returning due to Chelsea still serving their transfer ban. Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori came back with their Derby County boss, whereas Aston Villa’s top scorer, a key figure to them earning their promotion to the League, Tammy Abraham was part of Chelsea’s striking force. There’s a special mention for American winger Christian Pulisic who had made a big-money move to Chelsea from Borussia Dortmund in the January window. Liverpool, on the other hand, had very few changes to their squad, staying put with their manager Jurgen Klopp and not losing any of the stars in their front three.

Things started well when French forward Olivier Giroud broke the deadlock on the 36-minute mark with a low-driven left-foot shot that flew past Adrian after a lovely pass from Pulisic. Chelsea were more dominant in the first half, moving the ball around quickly, winning most of the second balls, N’golo Kante not only tackling and intercepting but also showing his other abilities by taking on opponents and driving forward to create chances. Pulisic then cut inside from the left and found the bottom corner to give Chelsea its second goal of the night but he was ruled offside and the decision backed up by a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) check which was being used for the first time in the competition. Liverpool then got their equalizer three minutes after the break through Sadio Mane in an evenly battled out second half of the game. The final whistle was blown and for the second time, Chelsea were heading into Extra time in the Super Cup. It took Liverpool five minutes to get the lead after Firmino once again set up Sadio Mane and the latter did no mistake in front of goal firing his strike past Kepa Arrizabalaga. Five minutes later, Liverpool goalkeeper brought down Chelsea’s substitute Tammy Abraham and the London side were awarded a penalty. Chelsea’s penalty taker Jorginho stepped up and equalized from the spot sending both sides to penalty shootouts. Just like the 2013 Super Cup shootouts, Chelsea had the last kick and this time Tammy Abraham’s head was in his hands after seeing Adrian save his shot from 12 yards. Chelsea losing in their third attempt in a Super Cup final through a young forward in the shootouts, some type of Deja Vu.

Conclusion

Frank Lampard’s blue and white army showcased an entertaining performance but at the end of the day ended up on the losing side, Lampard losing twice as a player and on his first attempt as a manager. Something he will quickly want to correct if given the opportunity. Chelsea losing three times in the Super Cup final is something that really hurts the fanbase and also the owner Roman Abramovich as this is one trophy that’s missing in their cabinet since he took over the club in 2004. This might have been caused by the change of managers as they shifted from Rafa Benítez to Jose Mourinho and Maurizio Sarri to Frank Lampard in 2019 respectively. Losing key players in Didier Drogba and Eden Hazard, 2012 and 2019 respectively also contributed significantly in one way or the other to Chelsea losing both games. But just like the Champions League took them a long period to reach the final and lift it against all odds, Chelsea faithful have hope and resilience that their side will win the Super Cup in the coming years with the club building ‘something special’ through the changes it’

By Eddie Oliech

Edited by Dami Adeleye


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