World Football: Five Super Cups to Watch This Summer
It's almost the end of July and the start of the season is close. Teams are beginning to prepare for their campaigns and players are now training harder.
It can be hard to wait for the domestic leagues to start up again. Club friendlies are somewhat dull at times and Olympic soccer isn't always too exciting.
And then there are the super cups. In each of the major European leagues, there is a one or two-match tournament final that pits the previous winner of the league against the previous winner of the domestic cup (though the UEFA Super Cup is different).
In most cases, the super cups are very interesting. They serve as warm-up matches for the top teams in each league and are usually high-scoring, eventful fixtures.
Without further ado, here are the five most important super cups to watch this summer:
UEFA Super Cup: Chelsea vs. Atletico Madrid
Venue: Stade Louis II, Monaco, France
Date: August 31, 2012
At the end of August, Champions League winners Chelsea will take on Europa League victors Atletico Madrid. This will be the third ever meeting between the two sides after they faced each other in the 2009 Champions League Group Stage.
When the Blues met Atletico at the Estadio Vicente Calderon in March 2011, the game ended 2-2, with Didier Drogba and Sergio Aguero scoring braces. It's been about 16 months since that match and both teams have changed a lot, probably for the best.
Chelsea won the Champions League while Atletico Madrid are certainly a team on the rise following their second Europa League triumph in three years.
There's no doubt that this will be an exciting match.
German Super Cup: Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund
Venue: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Date: August 12, 2012
The last time Bayern Munich played at the Allianz Arena in a competitive match, they lost to Chelsea on penalties in the UEFA Champions League Final.
The 2011/2012 campaign was an unfortunate one for the Bavarians, as they finished second in all three competitions (Champions League, Bundesliga, DFB Pokal). With Mario Gomez and Frank Ribery in tremendous form, it was hard to see a way that Munich would end the season without any silverware.
While it was agony for Bayern, it was a great season for Borussia Dortmund. Jurgen Klopp's side was disappointingly eliminated from the Champions League in the Group Stage but still went on to win the Bundesliga and the DFB Pokal.
Bayern were beaten by Dortmund in both the league and the cup and will be looking for revenge when the two sides face in August. The meetings between the two German giants are always entertaining.
FA Community Shield: Chelsea vs. Manchester City
Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham, England
Date: August 12, 2012
Twelve days after they play Atletico Madrid in France, Chelsea will face Manchester City in the FA Community Shield. This match will be City's second English Super Cup in a row and will be Chelsea's sixth since 2005.
While the Citizens clearly had the better domestic campaign, the Londoners were vastly superior in European competition. You may have forgotten that both Manchester clubs were ousted from the Champions League in the group stage. Nevertheless, City, for the first time ever, won the English Premier League while Chelsea finished in a low sixth place.
As the Olympics have left Wembley Stadium occupied, Aston Villa's stadium in Birmingham will be the venue for this match.
Supercoppa Italiana: Juventus vs. Napoli
Venue: Beijing National Stadium (Bird's Nest), Beijing, China
Date: August 19, 2012
The Italian Supercup has been played in many stadiums in the past. While the San Siro, the Stadio dell Alpi (Turin), the Stadio Luigi Ferraris (Genoa), the San Paolo (Naples), and the Stadio Olimpico (Rome) have all held the Supercoppa, it has also been featured in more unexpected stadiums.
Both the 1993 and the 2003 Supercups were played in the United States, at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and the Giants Stadium, respectively. The June 11 Stadium in Tripoli was the venue in 2002.
While the White-Blacks were unbeaten in the league, they failed to win their last competitive game, losing 2-0 to Napoli in the cup final.
The Azzurri will have been disappointed about missing out on a Champions League spot last season but stil have a place in the Europa League group stage.
Supercopa De Espana: Barcelona vs. Real Madrid (Two Matches)
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain and Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain
Date: August 23/27, 2012
The Supercopa de Espana is played over two matches and will be played between Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid. These teams met in last year's edition of the cup, with the Blaugrana narrowly winning 5-4 on aggregate.
The Barcelona-Real Madrid rivalry is one of the most amazing and exciting clashes in Europe and will once again amaze fans. While a supercup isn't the most important trophy to win, these two sides will be going all out to assert their dominance over the other.
Barca had the better head-to-head results against Madrid last season, with three wins, two draws, and a loss. But when it mattered the most, in the April 21st league meeting at the Camp Nou, the Meringues came out on top to all but secure the La Liga title.
Madrid will have been overjoyed about winning their first league trophy since 2008 but will still be disappointed about their Champions League semi-final exit to Bayern Munich. Neither Barcelona nor Real made it past the final four and will be hoping for better this campaign.
The El Classico rivalry never fails to entertain and you can expect this year's Supercopa de Espana to be as enticing as ever.
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