Last season’s Champions League winner (Liverpool), against last season’s Europa League winner (Chelsea), will be knocking horns today, Wednesday, August 14, in the first all-English UEFA Super Cup, in Istanbul, the capital of Turkey.
Recall, that Liverpool started their Premier League campaign with a 4-1 win over Norwich, on Friday evening, before Chelsea lost 4-0 to Manchester United, on Sunday.
The question is what changes will both sides make, and how will they approach the game?
Last season, Liverpool having played in the Community Shield, the Reds then opened the Premier League season, on Friday night’s Football against Norwich. Their trip to Istanbul is followed by a Premier League match at Southampton, at 3pm, on Saturday, this week.
Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool Manager, named the same starting XI for the clash against Norwich, as he did against Manchester City, in the Community Shield, but will he make changes and potentially prioritise the Premier League?
There will definitely be a change in goal, as Alisson is out with a thigh injury, meaning that summer signing Adrian will make his first start.
Adrian, the 32-year-old, probably did not expect to be thrust into first-team action so quickly, after joining from West Ham, as perhaps shown by his beaming smile as he came on as a substitute against Norwich.
Joel Matip, Xherdan Shaqiri, James Milner, and Naby Keita, could be in contention to start, while Sadio Mane might be pushing for a place after coming on as a Substitute against Norwich, having returned late from the Africa Cup of Nations.
If Mane returns, that means Divock Origi – scorer of the second goal in last season’s Champions League final, and one of the top performers against Norwich, is likely to drop to the bench.
Recall, that this will be the 11th European meeting between Liverpool and Chelsea. The previous 10 were all in the Champions League, with Chelsea wining three, Liverpool two, and five draws. Only one game was won by a margin of more than one goal.
Gary Neville has called Origi the “perfect” fourth Striker for Liverpool, and the Belgian says there is a “hunger” for more success this season.
“We have a very talented group, and there is good energy around the place, and we still have a lot to play for”, Origi told Sky Sports.
“We are very hungry, and personally I am as well. I want to help this team reach its full potential”, Origi added.
Presently, Istanbul holds fond memories for Liverpool after their memorable Champions League victory in 2005.
They have also fared well against English sides in Europe, in recent years, having gone unbeaten against Premier League teams in six matches, since a 3 – 1 defeat to Chelsea in the Champions League quarter-final, in 2009.
New signing, Andy Lonergan, has been included in the squad, but Dejan Lovren, who could be set to join Roma, missed out due to illness.
Meanwhile, Klopp was full of praise for new Chelsea Manager, Frank Lampard, ahead of the game.
He said: “I think Frank showed last year with Derby that he is a very, very, very good Manager, because he changed Derby pretty much overnight. I did not know Derby too well, but what I heard about it and when I saw them playing last year, especially against United, if you want, it was: ‘What a game!’
However, “a reality check” was how Lampard described Chelsea’s 4-0 defeat to Manchester United, on Sunday.
Chelsea had chances to score – hitting the woodwork twice – but were undone on the counter-attack in the second half, leading to questions about Lampard’s team selection and approach.
Former Chelsea Manager, Jose Mourinho, said that Lampard’s side were “too soft” and “not aggressive” enough, while Paul Merson suggested the pressure is now on.
Chelsea on Tuesday, arrived in Istanbul, in the early hours ahead of their UEFA Super Cup showdown
Lampard has played in two European Super Cups with Chelsea, and was on the losing side on both occasions in 2012 and 2013. He said that it is a competition the club is “desperate” to win.
“We need to be absolutely ready. It is a cup that the Club desperately wants to win.
“Every Player in there needs to be aware of the importance of the game to this Club, and we have to give everything, because it is going to be tough, but we cannot walk off the pitch and think “oh, we could have done that”, or “we missed that opportunity” or “we were not quite ready”, or make any excuses for ourselves.
“This final means a lot to the club, it is another trophy, and I know how much it means having lost two finals.
“It would be nice for me personally to start with a trophy, but more importantly it would show to the Players that they are capable of competing against a team like Liverpool”, Lampard stated.
Sports Analysts are saying that with Sunday’s clash against Leicester in mind, what team will Lampard pick against Liverpool?
Chelsea could also be boosted by the return of Willian and Antonio Rudiger, who have travelled with the squad, after missing the trip to Old Trafford with injuries.
Also, the Super Cup will be the first major UEFA men’s match to be officiated by a female Referee.
Stephanie Frappart, the 25-year-old Frenchwoman, will lead out a team of predominantly female Officials. She will be accompanied by Manuela Nicolosi of France and Michelle O’Neal from the Republic of Ireland, who will be the Assistant Referees for the match.
They also took charge of the women’s World Cup final, on July 7.