What: Champions League winner vs. Europa League winner
Who: Chelsea FC vs. Atlético Madrid
Where: Stade Louis II, Monaco
When: Friday, August 31, 2012
Weather: The Weather Channel’s Monaco forecast
Time: 19:30 p.m. GMT/2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m PT
TV: Sky Sports 2/Sky Sports 2 HD (UK), Fox Soccer Channel (USA)
Odds: Chelsea -½ +130, Atlético Madrid +½ -150
Alternate Odds: Chelsea Pick -160, Atlético Madrid Pick +130
3-Way Odds: Chelsea +130, Atlético Madrid +210, Draw +240
Total: Over 2½ -115, Under 2½ -105
Source: LVH SuperBook, Las Vegas, Nevada
Nothing like playing for a little silverware in Monaco on a Friday night in August.
Champions League winners Chelsea and Europa League holders Atlético Madrid will do just that when the two clubs battle in the European Super Cup at Stade Louis II in Monaco in what promises to be a close and exciting match.
But these games aren’t played on paper, and the English Premier League’s sixth-placed team and La Liga’s fifth-placed team last season certainly deserve to be here after the way they both played in their respective tournaments.
And a lot of that had to do with stellar goalkeeping, and Blues fans can take great satisfaction in knowing they not only have the 30-year-old Petr Čech in the fold through 2016, but also own 20-year-old Atlético Madrid netminder Thibaut Courtois, who recently signed up for a second season on loan with Los Rojiblancos.
The 6'6" Belgian international wanted to appear in this game so bad that he prevented a clause from being included in his loan extension contract that would have precluded him from playing in it.
“There were problems in ensuring I could play, but I told Chelsea and my agent I wanted to because you don’t get many chances to play in a European Super Cup,” Courtois said.
But as much as this match means to Courtois and Atlético, it means just as much to Chelsea and Čech, who said the Blues want to win this one for manager Roberto Di Matteo, who actually played in the first Super Cup ever held in Monaco in 1998 when Chelsea beat Real Madrid, 1-0, on a Gus Poyet goal.
Čech admits Atlético will be "difficult to handle" on Friday night, but Di Matteo appears to be ready to put his best team forward in an effort to try to win the Super Cup trophy.
“We are happy we are going into the Super Cup final with three wins and everybody fit and hopefully we can win another international trophy for this football club,” Di Matteo said in a Daily Mail interview.
What will happen in the European Super Cup on Friday?
“(I will take it) very seriously. It is not a friendly. It is a European trophy that we want to win. (I will) not be resting people.”
And you can bet that Los Rojiblancos and manager Diego Simeone—who like Di Matteo also participated in and won a 1-0 match in the Super Cup (a year later in 1999) with S.S. Lazio—won’t be resting anyone either.
For Čech and Chelsea’s defense, the key will be trying to put the clamps on Atlético striker Radamel Falcao, who had a hat-trick in his side’s 4-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in La Liga action on Monday.
The Colombian striker, who the Blues had on their wish-list to replace the outgoing Didier Drogba said, "The team is happy and well, and we will be going to try and win the Super Cup this Friday" in an interview on Monday.
Whereas Chelsea will defensively have to focus on the former Porto striker Falcao (24 goals in La Liga last season) and Arda Turan up front, Atlético will no doubt be setting its sights on the Blues' dynamic £82.5 million duo of Fernando Torres and Eden Hazard.
Torres, who played for Atlético from 2001-2007 and scored 82 goals in all competitions for Los Rojiblancos, has scored two EPL goals for the Blues so far this young season, while exciting summer transfer window pickup Hazard has been involved in almost all of the club’s eight goals to date and is a huge reason Chelsea sits on top of the league table now with a perfect 3-0-0 record.
The young Belgian midfielder now has a mind-boggling 14 goals, 14 assists and seven penalties won in his last 21 league games with Lille (France's Ligue 1) and now Chelsea and should prove to be a hard guy to cover for Atlético’s Diego Godin, Miranda and Mario Suárez.
With Blues manager Di Matteo saying he will “not be resting people,” it’s unclear if new summer signings Marko Marin, Victor Moses or César Azpilicueta will see their first action for the European champions or even be on the club’s available list of 18 but with no matches for a while, the Italian skipper can afford to put his best lineup out there against Atlético.
Besides being the day of the UEFA Super Cup, Friday is also the last day of the summer transfer window and Chelsea are still reportedly shopping for another attacker, so a piece of silverware and another piece to the puzzle would be a wonderful haul for the Blues heading into the weekend.
But beating Los Rojiblancos will be no easy feat, and this should be an entertaining and extremely close match.
So we have the Blues vs. Los Rojiblancos (The Red and Whites). England vs. Spain. The EPL vs. La Liga. Torres vs Falcao. Čech vs. Courtois. And Di Matteo vs. Simeone.
But what will happen? Do I look like a psychic, brother? I have absolutely no idea, as this one could go either way and would recommend just watching and not making a wager on this match.
And I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if this baby went to extra time or the first penalty shootout in Super Cup history. Enjoy.
PREDICTION: Chelsea 1 Atlético Madrid 1 (Chelsea wins in penalty shootout, 4-3)
SEASON TO DATE: (4-2-0)
>Follow me on Twitter: @KevinStott11