Been a while, hasn’t it? After what feels like an eternity, Chelsea are back in competitive action, and boy are we back with a bang. Following the Champions League triumph in May (yes, it really was over two months ago when we finally lifted the biggest prize in club football again), the Blues take centre stage once again, and this time, we face the Europa League champions with a trophy that has eluded the Blues on the last three occasions on the line.
Chelsea were bulldozed 4-1 by Atletico Madrid in 2012, and one year later lost to Bayern Munich on penalties, as the German giants got their revenge after Chelsea beat them in their own backyard (yes, I just had to) one year prior to claim their first ever Champions League trophy. Fast forward to 2019, and the SW6 once again lost on penalties, this time to then Champions of Europe, Liverpool. However, as the famous saying goes, the thir… I mean, fourth times a charm, and surely this time, Chelsea can finally secure the Super Cup for the first time since 1998.
The Champions of Europe (I may rinse that over the coming season, and you can do nothing about it), take to Belfast for what is sure to be a real ding-dong battle with Villarreal, who under no circumstances may be underestimated. Just ask our Mancunian “friends”. But in all seriousness, Chelsea must win this game to give them the most momentum they can get going into the opening league game with Crystal Palace. The Blues have already been in good form throughout preseason, beating Peterborough, Bournemouth, Arsenal, and drawing with Tottenham. Victory in Belfast would be the icing on the cake, and will also be a good demonstration for Thomas Tuchel, to see how up for the season his players are.
Team news and updates:
As far as team news goes, everyone is available for the match. Tuchel gave an update regarding players who returned late following international duties, such as Mason Mount and Jorginho, with the gaffer saying that eight days in training is not the ideal amount of time for the players to then jump straight into a European final like this.
With that being said, I do expect Jorge and Mason will be in contention for a start, as the two were among the very best last season. To predict a line up for this game would just be far too difficult, as only Tuchel knows how his players have been during pre-season and training. But we’re going to do one anyway.
Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, James, Jorginho, Kante, Chilwell, Mount, Werner, Havertz.
Thiago just misses out for me due to his lack of training and minutes during pre-season. As for J5 and Mason, the duo make my eleven due to their sheer importance to our side. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pulisic, Kovacic or Ziyech start however, after the Moroccan netted five times during pre-season.
Players to watch:
Kai Havertz: King Kai. The man who secured us our second Champions League trophy will be sure to light Belfast up on Wednesday evening, with the German international impressing at the Euros as well as carrying his late season form into pre-season. Havertz will be looking to pick up where he left off in royal blue.
Gerard Moreno: Moreno will certainly have a point to prove after he struggled to pick up any real momentum during his time with Spain at the Euros. The centre forward had an impressive season in La Liga last year, netting 23 times and grabbing seven assists in 33 games. The 29-year-old will hope that last seasons numbers can be replicated this year, starting with the Super Cup.
Written by @mashgreaves