Chelsea Beat Villarreal To Win UEFA Super Cup

 

Chelsea’s Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta (C) raises the trophy during the presentation ceremony after Chelsea won the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 11, 2021.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

 

Kepa Arrizabalaga was the unlikely hero as Chelsea started the new season as they ended the last with a European trophy by beating Villarreal 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw to win the UEFA Super Cup in Belfast.

The Spaniard, who has lost his place as number one since joining the club for a world record fee for a goalkeeper in 2018, was introduced late in extra-time as a substitute for the shootout by Thomas Tuchel.

Kepa famously refused to be replaced by former Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri in a League Cup final defeat to Manchester City two years ago.

But this time he rewarded his manager’s faith with saves from Aissa Mandi and Raul Albiol.

“It was not spontaneous,” said Tuchel who explained the plan had been hatched in the FA Cup last season.

“We talked about it with the goalkeepers after the first cup game against Barnsley.

“Kepa has the best percentage at saving penalties, the analysing guys and goalkeeping coaches showed me the data. We spoke to the players that this could happen when we play in knockout games. It’s fantastic how Edouard (Mendy) accepted it.

“There is proof that Kepa is better in this discipline. They’re team players. Edouard does not show the pride to not step off the field. He was happy to do it for the team and take this for the team.”

Chelsea’s win over Manchester City in Porto to lift the Champions League for a second time in May was the culmination of a meteoric rise in Tuchel’s first five months in charge.

The German has bemoaned having to manage a 42-man squad during pre-season and could soon have even more firepower to call on with Romelu Lukaku expected to complete a return to Stamford Bridge later this week for a club record £97 million ($135 million).

But the depth of resources available to Tuchel was on show early on.

Euro 2020 finalists Mason Mount, Ben Chilwell, Reece James and Jorginho all had to settle for a place on the bench after their late return to pre-season training, but Chelsea still had far too much for the Europa League winners in the opening half hour.

 

Chelsea’s Spanish defender Marcos Alonso slips as he scores his penalty in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Villarreal’s Argentinian defender Juan Foyth scores his penalty in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Chelsea’s Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic (bottom) tackles Villarreal’s Ecuadorian defender Pervis Estupinan (top) during the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Bittersweet for Ziyech

Hakim Ziyech had a bittersweet evening as he continued his fine pre-season form into competitive action with the opening goal.

Marcos Alonso fed Kai Havertz down the right and from the German’s low cross, Ziyech swept home.

However, the Moroccan was forced off before half-time in a sling by a shoulder injury.

In stark contrast to Chelsea’s haul of now 20 trophies in the nearly 20 years since Roman Abramovich’s takeover transformed the club, Villarreal’s Europa League final victory over Manchester United in May secured their first ever silverware.

After an overly cautious start from Unai Emery’s men, going behind forced the Yellow Submarine out of their shell and they were unfortunate not to be level by half-time.

“I am proud to represent Villarreal, our project and the Spanish league,” said Emery. “We knew how to compete.”

Mendy scampered from his line to deny Boulaye Dia a debut goal before Villarreal twice hit the woodwork either side of the break through Alberto Moreno and Gerard Moreno.

Villarreal were the dominant force in the second-half as Chelsea physically faded after their flying start.

Tuchel turned to his bench to stem the tide as Mount, Jorginho and Andreas Christensen were introduced.

But the Spaniards finally got their deserved equaliser when Moreno played a clever one-two with Dia before firing high past Mendy.

Neither manager would have welcomed an extra 30 minutes just days before their respective league campaigns kick-off.

Chelsea had the better of extra-time as Christian Pulisic fired inches wide before Sergio Asenjo produced a fine save to deny Mount.

Asenjo also gave Villarreal a dream start to the shootout by saving from Havertz.

But Chelsea were flawless with their next six spot-kicks to allow Kepa to take centre stage.

Chelsea’s Italian midfielder Jorginho reacts after scoring his penalty in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Villarreal’s Spanish forward Gerard Moreno celebrates after scoring his penalty in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Chelsea’s US midfielder Christian Pulisic (R) sends a shot wide as Villarreal’s Spanish goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo (L) looks on during the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Chelsea players celebrate after winning the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

Bayern Boss Eager To Stop Super Cup Becoming Virus Hotbed

Karl Heinz-Rummenigge

 

Bayern Munich boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge insists the German giants want to prevent  Thursday’s UEFA Super Cup showdown in Budapest turning into a super spreader event due to a high Covid-19 infection rate in the Hungarian capital.

On Monday, Bavaria premier Markus Soeder warned against the fixture becoming a “football-Ischgl”, referring to the Austrian ski resort where thousands of holidaymakers were infected with the virus at the beginning of the pandemic in Europe.

“I really get a stomach ache when it comes to the Super Cup” Soeder added of Bayern’s game against Europa League holders Sevilla in a coronavirus red zone.

Rummenigge echoed Soeder’s comments on Wednesday, insisting Bayern Munich have “every interest in ensuring that no Ischgl of football takes place” in Budapest.

“I think everyone’s stomachs are churning. The game will take place in a city with a rate of infection of over 100 (per 100,000 inhabitants), which is twice as high as that in Munich,” Rummenigge told broadcaster ZDF.

“That has to be taken seriously.”

Up to 20,000 spectators would be allowed by UEFA into Budapest’s Puskas Arena in a piloting project to test the return of fans into stadiums.

However, Budapest’s mayor Gergely Karacsony wants the game played without fans.

“If I had the legal means to decide that, I would let the game take place behind closed doors,” he told Hungarian newspaper Nepszava.

The Hungarian FA (MLSZ) released a statement Wednesday saying the “Puskas Arena will be safer than any other place in the country”.

The MLSZ pointed out that Sevilla and Bayern fans can only enter the stadium after “strict health checks”, will be kept separate, and “will not meet with Hungarian fans”.

Rummenigge anticipates “less than a thousand” Bayern fans will actually make the journey and only around 500 Sevilla fans are expected.

“We have a great interest that they come back healthy and that nobody in Budapest gets infected,” emphasized Rummenigge.

He has promised a “serious and disciplined” approach with both Bayern and Sevilla offering traveling fans Covid-19 tests.

The Bayern chief also pointed out that to “all those who say that you really have to be extremely careful with the subject. We are”.

Bayern initially had an allocation of 4,500 tickets but hundreds of fans opted not to travel after the German government declared Budapest a risk zone.

European champions Bayern are also flying to Budapest with a small delegation of officials after being heavily criticised when a group of senior figures sat bunched together in the stands for Friday’s 8-0 rout of Schalke.

Rummenigge was among the group not wearing masks and seated close together in the VIP stand for the opening game of the new Bundesliga season.

“At the next game we will keep the desired distance and wear masks, no problem,” said the 64-year-old.

AFP

Lampard Lambasts Racist Abuse Of Tammy Abraham

Chelsea’s English striker Tammy Abraham fails to score during the penalty shoot-out at the UEFA Super Cup 2019 football match between FC Liverpool and FC Chelsea at Besiktas Park Stadium in Istanbul on August 14, 2019. PHOTO: OZAN KOSE / AFP

 

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard was left disgusted by racist abuse of striker Tammy Abraham online after the UEFA Super Cup final defeat to Liverpool midweek and called on social networks on Friday to do more to prevent the publication of offensive content.

Abraham saw his penalty saved by Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian on Wednesday as the European champions won a shootout 5-4 after a 2-2 draw in Istanbul.

“I am particularly disgusted by a so-called Chelsea fan,” said Lampard.

“Tammy Abraham asked me to take the fifth penalty because he wanted to take it, wanted to stand up, be brave when the world is watching.

“Within hours somebody sitting behind a keyboard or a phone has said the most disgusting things possible.

“I don’t know how these platforms are allowed, it’s too easy to be done, something needs to be done as well as people obviously changing their mindsets completely.

“I’m so angry for Tammy, angry for the club because that is not what the club is about. The club does a lot of work against discrimination at all levels and it is a setback when these things happen.”

Abraham is still to score his first goal for the Chelsea first-team but is expected to get far more chance to shine this season under Lampard after loan spells at Swansea and Aston Villa the past two years.

“I’ve spoken with Tammy and he is a strong character. I love his character. He’s a confident boy on the pitch, he wants to do really well for this football club,” added Lampard.

“He has an opportunity to do that this year. He’s a great young man. He’s experienced something that’s not right and it will be a test of that character that he shouldn’t need but he’s got great character.”

Lampard is still seeking his first win since taking charge of the club he won 13 trophies with as a player after losing his opening Premier League match 4-0 at Manchester United last weekend.

Facing a refreshed United and relentless Liverpool was a baptism of fire for the former England international, but he wants the perfect homecoming when Leicester travel to Stamford Bridge for his first home game as Chelsea boss.

“We want to win at home, it’s a big game for us in front of our home fans for the first time this season,” he said.

AFP

Klopp Full Of Praise For Lampard Ahead Of Super Cup Clash

Chelsea’s English head coach Frank Lampard attends a training session ahead of the UEFA Super Cup 2019 football match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Besiktas Park stadium in Istanbul on August 13, 2019. Ozan KOSE / AFP

 

Jurgen Klopp warned his Liverpool team to be wary of a “fresh” Chelsea side under Frank Lampard as the Premier League rivals prepare to clash in the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul on Wednesday.

The Anfield outfit are tipped to lift more silverware by the Bosphorus after ending a seven-year trophy drought by winning last season’s Champions League.

Their opponents, meanwhile, are in Turkey by virtue of their victory in the Europa League final in May, but have since lost star player Eden Hazard to Real Madrid.

After leading Derby County to the Championship play-off final last season, Lampard has replaced Maurizio Sarri in the dugout but the former midfielder endured a difficult start, with Chelsea hammered 4-0 by Manchester United in their Premier League opener.

“If you only saw the result you had no idea how the game was because it was a very good game,” insisted Klopp on Tuesday.

“They are a really interesting team, good plan, Frank did an outstanding job last year at Derby, changed the football there in the Championship, where for a football-playing side being successful is really difficult.

“He did it and was unlucky at the end against a strong Aston Villa team (in the play-off final) not to get promoted, but now he is at Chelsea, his club, everything is fresh, everybody will be ready and on their toes.”

Liverpool are hopeful their momentum will carry them through this campaign after they became European champions for the sixth time, yet there are concerns over how little time off some of their leading players have had in the summer.

“It was a difficult pre-season, and not only for us,” said the German, whose team lost the Community Shield on penalties to Manchester City before beating Norwich City 4-1 in their opening league match.

“Physically we are there now, we are exactly where we want to be. That is not at 100 per cent, but we will not have that until September or October probably.

“We won one competition last year, that’s all. This team is built for being successful and that is what we try to do. Tomorrow night is another chance for us.”

 Adrian gets Van Dijk backing 

He added: “If people really think that Chelsea is not a real challenge then I can’t help these people.

“They are really strong and young and fresh, and everything is exciting in the moment because Frank is there, new, the club legend.

“It will be really interesting, and for us it’s a really important game.”

Liverpool have won the Super Cup on three previous occasions, most recently in 2005 when they defeated CSKA Moscow fresh from coming back from three goals down to beat AC Milan on penalties and win the Champions League in Istanbul.

Defender Dejan Lovren is out due to illness for the Reds, while Naby Keita is a concern after coming off the pitch during training on Tuesday evening at the Vodafone Park, home of Turkish Super Lig side Besiktas.

Meanwhile, recent signing Adrian will start in goal in the absence of Alisson Becker, who is set to miss several weeks with a calf injury.

“This is his second week, since then we’ve been working day in, day out, and I think for him it is obviously very good that he starts playing straight away,” said defender Virgil van Dijk of the Spanish shot-stopper.

“It obviously is not the situation that you hope to be in, that Alisson is getting injured and you have to come in, but he is experienced enough to go out there and show his qualities.”

AFP

Real Madrid, Manchester United Train Ahead Of Super Cup

Spanish side Real Madrid and English Uefa Cup winners Manchester United trained in Macedonia on Monday ahead of their Uefa Super Cup final.

Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho can collect the one European trophy he lacks when the Red Devils face Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup on Tuesday in his first competitive meeting with the Spanish giants since an acrimonious split in 2013.

Mourinho, whose team won the Europa League last season to salvage an otherwise disappointing first campaign under the Portuguese, led Real to the Liga title with a record 100 points and won a King’s Cup in an eventful stay between 2010 and 2013.

His achievements at the Santiago Bernabeu were overshadowed, however, by his falling out with key dressing room figures such as Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas as well as confrontations with referees and opponents plus a failure to win the Champions League, as Real lost in the semi finals each year.

Mourinho’s legacy has been upstaged by the Spanish club’s three Champions League triumphs in the four years since his departure, although in a recent interview the Portuguese claimed he had “to beg” Real’s board to let him leave for Chelsea.

Zinedine Zidane’s side beat Sevilla 3-2 in extra-time last year to win the showcase match and the French coach is targeting a fourth European trophy in less than two years in charge of Real, which would match Mourinho’s tally of continental titles.

United, meanwhile, will be missing central defenders Eric Bailly and Phil Jones due to suspension, opening up a place in the starting lineup for new recruit Victor Lindelof.

Real’s Portuguese talisman Cristiano Ronaldo was back in training following his Confederations Cup exploits with Portugal and is in the squad to face his former club.

UEFA Holds First Executive Committee Meeting Under Ceferin

UEFA, Aleksander CeferinEuropean football governing body, UEFA has held its first Executive Committee Meeting under the reigns of its seventh President, Aleksander Ceferin.

Ceferin, a little-known Slovenian soccer official, was elected on Wednesday at a UEFA congress in Athens, the Greek capital.

The 48-year-old said his first task would be to tackle the widespread dissatisfaction at controversial changes to the Champions League agreed between UEFA and the European Club Association, which has 220 members in favour of the big clubs.

Number of places allocated to clubs from Spain, England, Germany and Italy in the lucrative group stage were increased and slots for the smaller countries were reduced.

Meanwhile, Kiev’s Olympic stadium has been selected to host the final of the 2018 UEFA Champions League.

The executive committee voted on handing European football’s showpiece event in the next 20 months to the Olympiyskyi Stadium.

Lillekula Stadium in Tallinn, Estonia would also host the UEFA Super Cup on August 14, 2018.

However, the venue for the finals of the Europa League in 2018 would be revealed later.

Barcelona Are World Club Champions

BarcelonaBarcelona are the 2015 World Champions, defeating River Plate 3-0 on Sunday night in Japan.

Luis Enrique’s men cruised to victory in the final of FIFA Club World Cup competition, adding the gong to their La Liga, Copa Del Rey, Champions League and Uefa Super Cup successes.

It was a spectacle by the ‘MSN’ trio. Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez scored with big contributions from Neymar, and after a tough first half.

Lionel Messi had opened the scoring in the 35th minute with a sublime strike to help the champions’ confidence against a determined River Plate team.

Dani Alves found Neymar in the box, and the Brazilian passed the ball to Messi, who got away with a little handball and finally found the opening goal with his left foot.

Luis Suarez netted a superb second half double to help the Spanish giants emerge as the world’s best football club in 2015.

River Platehad come into the second half seeking an equalizer that seemed highly possible but they left gaps which Barça took advantage of.

Less than five minutes in, Sergio Busquets stole a ball and ignited a counter-attack with a beautiful through ball to Luis Suárez, who calmly finished to score the second goal.

In the 68th minute, Neymar’s beautiful cross found Suárez in the box, and the Uruguayan headed away from the keeper to get the third.

Barcelona have now equaled the record of Egypt’s Ahly, reaching the 20th international title after winning the Club World Cup title.

Chelsea Sign Falcao On Loan From Monaco

FalcaoPremier League champions, Chelsea Football Club, on Friday announced that they have agreed terms with Monaco for the season-long loan of Radamel Falcao.

The Colombian international will link up with Jose Mourinho’s squad for the 2015/16 campaign.

Falcao told chelseafc.com; “I am very happy to be joining Chelsea and can’t wait to start training and help with our aim of retaining the league title and being successful in Europe.”

The 29-year-old started his career as a teenager in his homeland before joining Argentinian giants River Plate in 2001 and going on to build a reputation as one of Europe’s most feared strikers.

Eight years later, Falcao arrived in Europe at Porto, where he made his Champions League debut against Chelsea.

He lifted successive Europa League titles, first with Porto and the second after joining Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2011.

The striker left Madrid for Monaco in the summer of 2013, enjoying an impressive first half of the campaign before injury ruled him out of the rest of the season and the following summer’s World Cup. He scored a hat-trick against the Blues in the 2012 UEFA Super Cup.

After two goals in three games at the beginning of last season, he joined Manchester United on loan, scoring four goals in 29 games to help Louis van Gaal’s side back into the Champions League.

Falcao is now reunited with former Atletico team-mates; Thibaut Courtois, Filipe Luis and Diego Costa, as well as international colleague, Juan Cuadrado.

Thierry Henry Confirms Retirement

Arsenal---Thierry-Henry-to-return-to-Emirates-and-end-his-career-as-a-Gunner-699One of football top players, Thierry Henry, have decided to hang his boots after leaving New York Red Bulls with the aim of returning to London to take up a role in the media.

The 37-year-old former Arsenal striker left the New York Red Bulls at the start of the month after they were knocked out of the MLS play-offs, but there was speculation he might choose to play on at another club – with a return to the Gunners mooted.

Henry has now made it clear that he will no longer continue his playing career and will start working as a pundit with Sky Sports instead.

“After 20 years in the game I have decided to retire from professional football. It has been an incredible journey and I would like to thank all the fans, team mates and individuals involved with Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona, New York Red Bulls and of course the French National Team that have made my time in the game so special,” a statement on his official website read.

“It is now time for a different career path and I am pleased to say that I will be returning to London and joining Sky Sports. I will hopefully share some of the insights, observations and experiences I have learnt over the years with you guys.

“I have had some amazing memories (mostly good!) and a wonderful experience. I hope you have enjoyed watching as much as I have enjoyed taking part. See you on the other side…”

Goal-laden career

Henry will always be most closely associated with Arsenal, where he is the all-time goalscorer with 228 goals in 377 games across two different spells.

Arsene Wenger, who had known him as a young player at Monaco, signed him from Juventus for £11million in 1999, and immediately shifted him from the wing to a central striking position.

His blend of pace and power made him one of the most feared forwards in English football, and Henry won the Premier League title twice with the Gunners, as well as the FA Cup three times.

Henry left Arsenal in 2007 and joined Barcelona, where he won the UEFA Champions League in 2009. He also added two La Liga titles, the Copa del Rey, Spanish Supercopa, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup to his honours list in three seasons at the Nou Camp.

His medal collection also includes a Ligue 1 title and Trophee des Champions with Monaco, his first professional club.

He spent the final five years of his playing career with the Red Bulls, returning to Arsenal to make four appearances on loan in early 2012.

With France, Henry scored 51 goals in 123 appearances – only Lilian Thuram has more caps with Les Bleus. He was a member of the 1998 World Cup winning squad, while also being a runner up in 2006. Henry was a European champion in 2000 and was part of the team that won the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2003.

Ronaldo’s Brace Helps Real Madrid To Win UEFA Super Cup

UEFA Super CupWorld footballer of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo, scored twice as Real Madrid claimed the UEFA Super Cup with a 2-0 victory over La Liga rivals, Sevilla, at the Cardiff City Stadium.

The European Champion were hot favourites to claim the first silverware of the European season and were always too strong for the Europa League winners.

Ronaldo, who started alongside new recruits James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, tapped in a cross from Cardiff-born Gareth Bale to give Real the lead.

It was 2-0 to Real early in the second period when Karim Benzema played in Ronaldo on the left of the box and he drilled a powerful shot beyond Beto, which the goalkeeper got both hands to but could not keep out.

Real boss, Carlo Ancelotti, paraded his wealth of playing talent, with major summer signings; Rodriguez and Kroos, joining Bale and Ronaldo in a team captained by goalkeeper, Iker Casillas.

James and Kroos both had their moments, with the electric speed of the Colombia international’s passing a regular highlight, while Bale’s former Spurs colleague, Luka Modric worked tirelessly in midfield.

Although the Spanish domestic season does not start for almost another fortnight, Real already look in good form, suggesting they would not only challenge for another European crown but also seriously threaten Atletico Madrid’s reign as La Liga champions.

Real Madrid Signs German World Cup Star, Toni Kroos

KroosGermany’s World Cup winner, Toni Kroos, has completed his £24million move to Spanish La Liga giant, Real Madrid from Bayern Munich.

Kroos, who was a key player for Germany as they beat Argentina 1-0 to win the World Cup and scoring two goals in the 7-1 demolition of host, Brazil in the semi finals, was presented to the fans at the Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday afternoon after undergoing a medical.

The 24 year old was delighted to sign and said he would win trophies for the Galacticos.

 “I know that at this club you are expected to win trophies but I’m the right man for that because I’m used to winning.

“I know this is the correct decision and I’m very proud to have made it.

“I cannot think of anything more wonderful than being here. This is the biggest club in the world.

“In 2013 I won the Champions League and in 2014 Real won it, and I hope we can win it again next year. I hope to be able to return the confidence this club has shown in me.”

Bayern Munich Chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, has thanked Toni Kroos for his quota in making Bayern great and wished him well.

 “We would like to thank Toni Kroos for his time here in Munich.

“We enjoyed great success here together. We would like to wish him and his family all the best in Madrid and with Real.”

Kroos joined Bayern from Hansa Rostock as a 16-year-old but spent 18 months on loan at Bayer Leverkusen and to Munich where he made 173 Bundesliga appearances and won three Bundesliga titles in four seasons, the DFB-Pokal three times and being part of the historic treble-winning side of 2012/13.

They also won the UEFA Champions League before winning the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup last year.