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Chelsea face Atletico Madrid in European Super Cup

posted 30 Aug 2012, 09:37 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 30 Aug 2012, 09:38 ]

Chelsea and Atletico Madrid play the last European Super Cup to be staged in Monaco as Fernando Torres faces his old club and rival striker Radamel Falcao.

Chelsea's relationship with the European Super Cup will come full circle when the winners of the first final at the Monaco Stade Louis II stadium face Atletico Madrid in the last one to be staged there on Friday (August 31).
Chelsea, at the time holders of the Cup Winners' Cup, beat European champions Real Madrid 1-0 in 1998 and now, as European champions themselves, they are back to face Atletico, the winners of last season's Europa League.

Chelsea's win 14 years ago, secured by a late Gus Poyet goal over a Real side that included Raul, Roberto Carlos, Clarence Seedorf and Fernando Morientes, began a trend.

Of the 14 finals played in Monaco in the traditional curtain-raiser to the European club season, the European champions have lost eight times to the Cup Winners' Cup holders and then subsequently the UEFA Cup and Europa League winners.

Atletico, like Chelsea, have also beaten the European champions in Monaco, scoring a 2-0 victory over Inter Milan at the Stade Louis in 2010.

It will be a special occasion for Fernando Torres who will facing his boyhood club before he moved to England.

"In football things change so quick," said the 28 year-old who is now recovering his best form after winning the Champions League with Chelsea.

"Last season was a difficult season - I cannot say bad season because I was lucky enough to win all these trophies, and the golden balls - at the beginning of the season everything was so hard, but at the end of the season it was amazing," he added.

"That's why football is so beautiful and we have to enjoy these kind of moments, it's not going to be like this forever, so let's enjoy now, we are on a good run, the team is playing really good, the new players they are already settled and doing very well, and we are enjoying a good run now, so let's keep doing that tomorrow, winning the first trophy of the season for Chelsea, and I am sure we can do that, there are many more to come."

Unlike in 1998, Chelsea will start as favourites after a fine start to the domestic season in which they have won their opening three Premier League matches but Torres said his old Spanish club, coached by Argentine Diego Simeone deserves all respect.

"They are a very balanced team, since Simeone goes to the team, they have improved a lot, and they have found the mentality they should have always had, the mentality that I learned when I was a kid - the mentality about fighting and the fighting spirit and team sprit, and they have this now with this manager," Torres told reporters.

"And when you have players with the quality they have, Alda, Gabi, Falcao, of course everything is easier for them. I think they are showing everyone the Spanish league is not only a two club league, Atletico Madrid is the third."

Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo, who played in Chelsea's 1998 win over Real, said that Atletico will be a tough opposition.

"It doesn't really matter if it is a Spanish club or a club from another country. I think Atletico Madrid is a very good team, obviously they won the Europa League last season and started the season off in a good fashion again," the Italian said.

"I saw both their games, they have a good team with a lot of quality and talented players and a good coach as well, a manager, and we are going to face a challenge tomorrow night and hopefully we can bring the trophy home after 14 years."

Atletico's main threat will come from striker Radamel Falcao, the Colombia international known as "the tiger" who netted 24 goals in La Liga last season and 12 in Europe.

Falcao has picked up where he left off and scored a fine hat-trick in Monday's 4-0 mauling of Athletic Bilbao, the team they beat 3-0 in the 2012 Europa League final.

He took his tally against the Basque club to seven in three matches, having also scored twice in a 2-1 success in La Liga last March.

"They know how to defend and attack as a unit. They are a very strong squad, but we are prepared, and are ready to face them tomorrow, and we hope it will be a great show tomorrow," the 26 year-old said.

Like Di Matteo, Atletico's charismatic Argentine coach Simeone has just begun his first full season in charge at the Vicente Calderon and still has most of the players in his squad who helped win the Europa League.

"We can't deny reality and lie to the people, Chelsea is the favourite to win," said the 42 year-old Simeone.

"They have an enormous budget, they won the Champions League and so on paper they have better chances than we do, but with humility and reality, we want to be competitive and to show that for such a match it doesn't matter who is better on paper but who plays better."

Chelsea defied the odds last season to realise the dream of billionaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich and win the European Cup on penalties against Bayern in Munich.

Abramovich is a regular visitor to Monaco with one or more of his yachts regularly berthed in the harbour beneath the famous casino, and he has gambled some 80.0 million pounds ($126.39 million) on new players since the night Chelsea reached the European pinnacle at the Allianz Arena.

Brazilian playmaker Oscar, Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard, Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta, Germany's Marko Marin and Nigerian-born Victor Moses have arrived at Stamford Bridge while Salomon Kalou and Didier Drogba are among those who have left.

There is no doubt Abramovich would like to sail away from Monaco with another trophy in the locker before the Super Cup begins its travels around Europe. Following a suggestion by UEFA president Michel Platini to rotate, next year's match will be in Prague, the 2014 final in Cardiff and the 2015 game in Tbilisi.