Chelsea - Atletico Madrid Preview: The Blues look to secure their second Super Cup title against the 2010 winners
Fernando Torres is set to line up against his boyhood club as Roberto Di Matteo bids to lift the prize for the second time in his career against the Europa League holders
By Joe Wright
Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole
Mata, Hazard, Bertrand
Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Filipe Luis
Koke, Turan, Rodriguez
Chelsea will be without captain John Terry, who is still suspended for European fixtures following his red card against Barcelona in last season's Champions League semi-final. Gary Cahill and David Luiz will likely partner at centre-back, with the latter having recovered from a head injury sustained against Newcastle at the weekend.
Frank Lampard is expected to return to the starting XI after sitting out Saturday's win over the Magpies, with Raul Mereiles the man to make way for the England veteran. Eden Hazard is set to continue alongside Juan Mata and Ryan Bertrand in a support role to lone striker Fernando Torres, who will take on his boyhood club on Friday night, while new signings Victor Moses and Cesar Azpilicueta are likely to be named among the substitutes as they await their first appearances in a Blues shirt.
Long-term absentee Kader is the only injury concern for Diego Simeone, who is expected to name an unchanged Atletico side to the one which put four past Athletic Bilbao earlier this week in a repeat of the Europa League final match-up.
Thibault Cortois is eligible to play against his employers after re-signing for Los Rojiblancos on loan from Chelsea for another season, while many eyes will be on star striker Radamel Falcao, after the reported Blues target bagged a hat-trick against Bilbao to further enhance his huge reputation on the continent.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Chelsea booked their place in the showpiece clash in Monaco after their Champions League final triumph last season, with the Blues edging out Bayern Munich 4-3 on penalties.
- The London outfit have lifted the trophy once before, when they beat Real Madrid 1-0 in 1998 in the first one-off match to be held at Stade Louis II. Current boss Roberto Di Matteo played in that victorious side.
- Chelsea last met Atletico Madrid back in the group stages of the 2009-10 Champions League - they won the first match 4-0 at Stamford Bridge before drawing the second 2-2.
- The Blues are unbeaten in their last 13 matches against Spanish sides, with Barcelona the last Liga side to beat them in 2005/06.
- Atletico Madrid are playing in their second Super Cup in three years, after they beat Athletic Bilbao 3-0 in the Europa League final last season. They won the tie back in 2010, beating then-Champions League winners Inter Milan 2-0.
- Former captain Fernando Torres (pictured right) scored 84 times for Los Rojiblancos before moving to Liverpool in 2007, and Chelsea in January 2011.
- Atletico are unbeaten in their last 12 matches in European competition, stretching back to a 2-0 defeat to Udinese in last season's Europa League group phase.
- Diego Simeone's side have won only seven of 20 matches against English opposition, and have never beaten Chelsea.
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Top 3 Predictions
Chelsea FC 3-1 Atlético de Madrid
- 24.42 %
Chelsea FC 2-1 Atlético de Madrid
- 15.9 %
Chelsea FC 2-0 Atlético de Madrid
- 14.87 %
|UEFA Super Cup (SC)||31 Aug 2012||Chelsea FC 1 - Atlético de Madrid 4|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||3 Nov 2009||Atlético de Madrid 2 - Chelsea FC 2|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||21 Oct 2009||Chelsea FC 4 - Atlético de Madrid 0|
|17 Dec 2013||Sunderland 2 - Chelsea FC 1||CCUP|
|14 Dec 2013||Chelsea FC 2 - Crystal Palace 1||EPL|
|11 Dec 2013||Chelsea FC 1 - Steaua Bucureşti 0||UCL|
|7 Dec 2013||Stoke City 3 - Chelsea FC 2||EPL|
|4 Dec 2013||Sunderland 3 - Chelsea FC 4||EPL|
|12||John Obi Mikel||Midfielder|
The Belgian attacker has slotted seamlessly into life at Stamford Bridge, notching an impressive six assists as well as a goal in his first three matches for the Blues. The 21-year-old has already made it clear that he wants to taste victory at Stade Louis II on Friday night, and if he demonstrates the same confidence and guile on the ball as he has in his fledgling Chelsea career to date, he could prove a handful for the Spaniards - particularly if his oft-telepathic understanding with Fernando Torres continues to flourish.
The Colombia striker fired his side to Europa League glory last term and seems to have picked up where he left off this campaign, smashing a sensational hat-trick against Athletic Bilbao in his side's last outing. With John Terry suspended, Falcao's pace and power could well prove a stern test for a Chelsea rearguard which has looked far from impregnable so far this season, particularly if service from Arda Turan and Cristian Rodriguez is not stopped at source.
The 26-year-old has been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge for some time, and an impressive showing on Friday night could possibly tempt Roman Abramovich to dig out the chequebook once more.
Petr Cech has already warned his Chelsea side that Atletico will pose a far greater threat than the team which was brushed aside at Stamford Bridge three years ago. Los Rojiblancos have twice tasted success in Europe in the last three years, and will go into Friday's match determined to prove they can compete with the elite of the continent.
While Chelsea have started their domestic campaign in ruthless fashion, they will face arguably their toughest test to date this season when they tackle Simeone's side in Monaco. Abramovich has spent heavily to add some youthful flair to the side, augmenting the steely determination which saw the Blues crowned kings of Europe, and Super Cup success will depend largely on how well Di Matteo's chosen XI can continue to combine those two traits.
This fixture is often unfairly regarded as a glamorous exhibition match, but nothing but victory will suffice for either side on Friday night. Expect plenty of attacking play, plenty of goalscoring chances, and ultimately - just - a Chelsea victory.