Bayern next. Remember them? I’m sure those that have ventured out to Eastern Europe will take great pleasure in reminding the opposing number of the result on the occasion upon which we last met. Expect the Germans to be a little less bothered about it after their victory at Wembley in May. After all, we can all relate to the feeling of laying to rest the ghost of a Champions League final penalty loss. Prague replaces Monaco as this years host city for the Super Cup final and it is not just the travelling supporters’ bank balance that will feel the benefit. The principality certainly evokes painful memories as it has tended to be an unhappy hunting ground in recent years. Gus Poyet’s winner against Madrid in ’97 aside, the defeat to Deschamps’ Monaco in ’04 sealed Ranieri’s fate and last years crushing at the hands of Atletico Madrid was the beginning of the end for Di Matteo to a certain extent. The Blues arrive in good shape this time around for what should be a decent game.
It seems that Bayern have begun this season as they finished the last. They did however concede a late equaliser to lowly Freiburg in the Bundesliga on Tuesday night to blemish their otherwise perfect start to the season. Their line-up might be part of the reason for dropping points as Ribery, Robben, Lahm and Mandzukic all started on the bench. Each of these you would expect to be on from kick-off against Chelsea in a shape not too dissimilar to the one adopted on Tuesday night. If anything, Bayern are stronger than when we last met with a relatively similar squad that has since been added to rather than broken up. Shaqiri, who got the goal against Freiburg and Gotze who tore Man City apart last season will be new to us. The other man we might see is Thiago who arrived from Barca after a summer of speculation during which he was linked with Moyes’ United.
Chelsea’s prospective line-up seems to somehow become increasingly more difficult to guess. I do not think anybody foresaw the starting eleven at Old Trafford. The unpredictability is down in no small part to Chelsea’s relentless activity in the transfer window. The fact that Eto’o will not be registered in time does not make the striker selection picture any clearer. Many suggested that the ‘false 9’ system deployed on Monday showed that Mourinho does not trust his current crop of strikers. This may or may not be true, but I am sure we will see one of the three that were overlooked make a start this time. The other interesting selection will be the usage of Mata. I feel that this match will give the clearest indication yet as to whether he will be staying or going. Hopefully being at the Emirates stadium on Tuesday night turns out to be something not worth reading in to.
The press will of course build up the sub-plot of the continuing saga of a rivalry between Mourinho and Guardiola. These two made no secret of their fractious relationship in their previous place of employment. Mourinho will of course be the villain rightly or wrongly should they once again clash in any way. Jose suggested at the turn of the year that Guardiola went to Bayern to diminish the likelihood of the two meeting as regularly. In previous years the Super Cup has been considered a friendly match to many, but there is no way that this match will be anything other than highly charged and hotly contested. Those involved with last years final will surely want to make amends and with so many in the opposing camp involved on the day Drogba came to their town, their first opportunity for payback will give this a bit of spice.