SUPER CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE!!!
Champions League winners Chelsea took on Europa League winners Villarreal in Belfast for the Uefa Super Cup. Fans back in the stadium and good weather meant that the match was set to be exciting. Emery went with a strong XI as expected with Asenjo in goal, a strong defence in Pedraza, Torres, Albiol, and Foyth. A midfield made up of Moreno, Capoue, Trigueros, Pino and a frontline of Dia, and Gerard Moreno. Some players missing but the essential spine all involved. Tuchel went with a strong XI as well, Mendy started in goal with a back three of Chalobah, Zouma, and Rudiger. Chalobah has been brilliant all pre-season and deserved to start. Hudson-Odoi, and Alonso were the wing backs while Kante and Kovacic started in midfield. Ziyech and Werner started behind Havertz.
The first 40 was all Chelsea as Villarreal were comfortably camped in their own half. Asenjo had to make a few saves with Werner coming close initially. Kante then had a shot saved as well. The first goal came in the 27th minute as Havertz played a brilliant ball into the box and Ziyech tapped Chelsea into the lead. The final 5 minutes of the 1st half saw a foul on Kovacic not given which led to a Villarreal corner. The corner resulted in Ziyech dislocating his shoulder as he had to come off with Pulisic replacing him. Rudiger was then given an unjust yellow for a strong tackle and it frustrated Tuchel which also got him a yellow. Chelsea needed half time to come to calm down.
The 2nd half unlike the 1st was largely dominated by Villarreal. Chelsea didn’t turn up for around 30 minutes as Jorginho, Mount, and Christensen came on for Kante, Werner and Zouma. Villarreal also made some changes and they got a deserved goal in the 73rd minute as Moreno scored to make it 1-1 having hit the post initially. Moreno earlier had also hit the post before half time. Azpilicueta came on for Hudson-Odoi before full time.
Extra time in a Super Cup is pointless and it was as the next 30 minutes saw Chelsea dominate play and Villarreal parking their submarine in their own half. Chelsea came close to getting the winner but Pulisic’s shot just went wide. As penalties became clear Tuchel brought on Kepa for Mendy with Kepa being the better goalkeeper at penalties. Havertz took the first penalty which was saved, and Moreno converted his. Azpilicueta then converted his and Kepa saved from Mandi. The next 4 penalties saw everyone convert them. Rudiger then got Chelsea their 6th and Kepa saved from Albiol to seal the Super Cup for the Blues!
Chelsea Team Review
Mendy had a decent game. The first 45 minutes had him resting in his box but the 2nd 45 was action packed for him. A miss kick after slipping almost gave Moreno a goal but Mendy managed to turn the shot to the post. Mendy then made some saves towards the end to take the game to extra time. Extra time saw Mendy have nothing to do as Kepa came on. It was a brilliant redemption arc for Kepa to come on after the criticism he has received over the years and make two saves and get Chelsea a Super Cup win. It was great to see how happy the players were for him and with fans back in the stadium as well it was special.
Four centre backs were involved in this game in Chalobah, Zouma, Rudiger and Christensen. The passing became sloppy as the game went on mainly due to tired legs and it still being pre-season but the defence was strong. Chalobah impressed the most out of all the defenders though and was my man of the match. Last ditch tackles, pace it was the whole package. Hudson-Odoi had a quite game partly due to the fact he isn’t a wing back while Alonso was great in the first 45 but didn’t have a great 2nd 45. Azpilicueta also came on to see out the game and took a penalty as well as he became the first Chelsea captain to lift the Champions League and Super Cup.
Kante and Kovacic were great in the opening 45 and Kante especially dominated the midfield as usual while Kovacic broke the lines with his dribbling. The 2nd 45 saw Chelsea struggle but Jorginho came on and helped in settling things. Kovacic did well throughout the game and worked tirelessly to the end. Havertz was good and had chances saved while the same can be said for Mount who grew into the game after he came on.
Ziyech was again the best forward player before he had to come off. It is sad to see him get another injury but hopefully it isn’t a long term one and it’s not muscular which is always good. Werner was decent and had a shot saved as well. Pulisic had a quiet start to his game but got better as the game went on and came close as well.
Tuchel has Chelsea going and has had a productive pre-season which is good to see. The team spirit is raring to go and his man management skills were on show for all to see. The fact that he has made it clear to the goalkeepers since last season that if penalties come goalkeepers might be subbed is great. Kepa making the saves also showed his switch worked. Another trophy for the German as we head into an exciting season.
There is no better way to start a season than by winning a Super Cup. It was Chelsea’s 4th attempt in the last 10 years so it was great to win it finally. The season is long and a trophy can do a lot in boosting a teams morale and confidence. Next up for Chelsea is Palace on Saturday as the Premier League season begins! COME ON CHELSEA!!!