In less than a month from now, the domestic leagues will be starting. The transfer window has been fairly boring so far and it will be great to finally get some competitive play again. But even before the leagues begin, there are the super cups to worry about. When you think about, these "cups" are a little bit like friendly matches. They are one game long, they are before the season kicks off, and they don't always feature the whole starting eleven. However, teams do try hard in these games. The super cup is mainly about bragging rights, especially when it involves two rival teams.
Here's a preview of the six most notable super cups this summer:
Teams: Manchester City vs. Manchester United
Date: August 7, 2011
At the beginning of last season, most people wouldn't have expected the two Manchester teams winning the FA Cup and EPL respectively. But that's what happened and these two rivals meet at Wembley a week before the league begins. I would expect both teams to play their best starting eleven as the fans will really want to see their team taste victory. Manchester City have always been second to United, especially in recent years. But the Citizens' FA Cup triumph last season was great and included a semifinal victory over United. A Super Cup win for the Blues would really make people think twice about calling United the superior Manchester team.
Teams: Schalke 04 vs. Borussia Dortmund
Date: July 23, 2011
In another Super Cup with two huge rivals, Schalke and Dortmund will face each other at the Veltins Arena in a few days from now. These two German giants have never faced off in a Supercup match but both will want to make their fans happy with a win. Schalke had a superb campaign in both the German Cup and Champions League, but disappointed tremendously in the Bundesliga in which they finished in 14th place. Borussia had the complete opposite of seasons as they won the league but suffered early exits in the Europa League and DFB-Pokal. Now these rivals face off in what should be a great match.
Teams: Marseille vs. Lille
Date: July 27, 2011
Nowadays nobody seems to care about the French league. And that's justifiable. French teams barely ever make it past the Round of 16 in the Champions League and keep selling their best players to bigger clubs. Benzema, Nasri, Drogba, Essien, Malouda, Ribéry were all sold to non-French clubs at a young age. Despite all this, the French Super Cup is worth watching. Lille won the Coupe de France as well as the Ligue 1 so they will be facing second place Marseille. Both teams had somewhat disappointing campaigns in Europe but showed quality in their domestic seasons. Lille and Marseille now compete in a season curtain raiser which has all the ingredients to be a good match. The fixtures last season between these two were great to watch and included great goals.
Teams: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona
Date: August 14/17, 2011 (two legs)
I feel that this will be the best Super Cup this year. It's two legs and it's between the biggest rivals in the world. In addition to that, it's a match between the two best teams in the world. Last year, the world was given the chance to watch four Classicos in a less than a month. As we know, those matches didn't completely fulfill expectations as there was too much diving and not enough goals (at least in one of the games). These teams absolutely hate each other and I'm sure that there will be as much excitement in these two Supercopa legs as there was in the four El Classicos last season. However, if you didn't enjoy the fixtures between these two teams and didn't like the playacting, then this super cup isn't for you.
Country: Italy (played in China)
Teams: Inter Milan vs. AC Milan
Date: August 6, 2011
The Italian edition of the Super Cup is either played in the home of the Serie A winner or a location outside of Italy. Just like in 2009, the 2011 Supercoppa will be played at the Bird's Nest in Beijing. San Siro-based teams AC Milan and Inter Milan will face off winning the league and cup respectively. This is yet another rivalry super cup and should have all the features of the last two meetings between these teams (goals, agressive play, etc.). Inter Milan will try to avenge their two defeats last season, in which they scored none while conceding four.
Country: UEFA (all of Europe)
Teams: Porto (Portugal) vs. Barcelona (Spain)
Date: August 26, 2011
Finally, the UEFA Super Cup. This is always a great occasion as it brings together Europe's best team and the winner of the second European competition. You would think this game would be a crushing result for the winner of the Champions League but that is never the case. The Europa League/UEFA Cup winner always proves to be a tough test and ends up winning half the time. I don't think I need to explain why this will be a good match if Barcelona is playing. And the Catalans are facing a superb, attacking team that consists of the likes of Falcao, Guarin, Rolando and Moutinho (though these players may be leaving before this game). I feel that the El Classico-Spanish super cup slightly edges the UEFA Super Cup, but there's no reason why you shouldn't watch both.