The traditional curtain-raiser for the new season of European soccer takes place at Windsor Park on Wednesday, as Chelsea and Villarreal clash for the right to be named Super Cup winner for the 2021-22 season.
UEFA Super Cup Preview
The UEFA Super Cup is the perfect way to set the tone for the forthcoming season, with the endpoint being the Champions League final in Saint Petersburg at the end of May. Europa League winners Villarreal will be the outsiders, as the reigning European champions will be the clear favorites in the betting.
Realistically, Chelsea are the only side competing in the Super Cup that could truly trouble the leading sides in the premier soccer club competition. Thomas Tuchel’s side upset the odds last season, as the German was able to lead the Blues to their second Champions League success.
Many expected that final at the conclusion of the club season was to be the moment that Manchester City finally got their hands on the holy grail. However, Kai Havertz had other ideas, as he scored the winning goal in the first half.
Truthfully, the Blues will have their attention firmly on the Premier League title this season, as they hope the Champions League success can be used as a springboard in a similar way that Liverpool did back in 2019.
— Northern Ireland (@NorthernIreland) August 10, 2021
Tuchel certainly has nearly all the tools he needs for the Blues to stand up against the best, but they could still be a number nine short. However, reports that Romelu Lukaku is nearing his return to Stamford Bridge would certainly fill that void.
Meanwhile, unlike their Premier League opponents, Villarreal experienced European success for the first time at the end of last season, as Unai Emery’s side beat Manchester United in a tense penalty shootout.
Going into the final, the La Liga side were in a similar situation to Chelsea, as many experts were tipping United to win their first piece of silverware under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Gerard Moreno scored early for the Spanish side to give them the perfect start, but Edinson Cavani struck back in the second half. Ultimately, spot-kicks were needed, and when David De Gea missed United’s eleventh spot-kick, Villarreal’s first European success was achieved. However, the second piece of European silverware could be picked up in quick time in Belfast.
Chelsea (3-4-1-2): Mendy, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Zouma, Pulisic, Kante, Kovacic, Alonso, Haverz, Ziyech, Werner
Villarreal (4-4-2): Rulli, Foyth, Albiol, Madi, Moreno, Pino, Morlanes, Trigueros, Pedraza, Moreno, Nino
Chelsea will come into the Super Cup without any of the players that played in the latter stages of the EUROs. English trio Reece James, Ben Chilwell, and Mason Mount, as well as Italian Jorginho, will not make the trip. Romelu Lukaku could be a Chelsea player by the time the game kicks off, but will not feature. Meanwhile, Francis Coquelin, Etienne Capoue, and Daniel Parejo are all missing for Villarreal.
Head To Head
This will be the first time that Chelsea and Villarreal have clashed in a competitive fixture.
Chelsea vs Villarreal Pick | UEFA Super Cup
Chelsea’s experience in big games, even without many of their first-team players available, vastly outweighs that of Villarreal. The Spanish side will be missing Pau Torres, which is a huge blow. The Premier League giants will continue to build momentum ahead of the start of the new season this weekend with a comfortable 2-0 win.