Created on 29-08-2013 at 17:08 PM
The relationship between Bayern and the UEFA Super Cup has not been a happy one. Munich contested the showdown between the continent’s nominal top two as winners of the European Cup in 1975 and 1976 and the Champions League in 2001, but lost on all three occasions. The current generation intend to remedy that omission on Friday night, when the treble winners step out at Eden Arena in Prague to play Europa League winners Chelsea. “I hope we bring it off, because we don’t have this cup on our headed stationery,” quipped chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Club captain Philipp Lahm said: “Our task is to bring this trophy to Munich at last.”
The Bayern party left Munich on Thursday morning. The obligatory pre-match press conference and a final training session occupied the afternoon. Bastian Schweinsteiger (sprained ankle) and Javi Martínez (groin) are both carrying minor injuries but were able to take part in the workout. “Bastian is in better shape now. I hope he can play,” commented Pep Guardiola. A final decision on the German midfielder’s fitness will be taken on Friday, but Martínez is definitely not a contender for the starting line-up.
The Bayern dugout in Prague will feature an authentic Super Cup specialist in the shape of Guardiola, who guided Barcelona to the prestige honour in 2009 and 2011. The Spaniard is now determined to lead his new charges to their first trophy of term. “It's my international debut as Bayern coach. I’m delighted to be here,” the boss said.
Little thirst for revenge
Bayern versus Chelsea is a clash between two of the biggest clubs in the world, but the match-up brings back bad memories for the Reds and their fans, due to the anguish of defeat on home soil in the 2012 Champions League final. The fateful events of 19 May that year must play “a role of some sort” in the players’ thoughts, remarked Rummenigge. However, the triumph in Europe’s top club competition at Wembley in May this year means Friday’s match will be “a little more relaxed,” the chairman concluded.
President Uli Hoeneß similarly sensed “no great thirst for revenge. We won the Champions League by a distance last year. We were the best team in Europe.” For exactly that reason, Bayern are keen to add two bonus prizes to their collection this season, December’s FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco, and Friday’s European Super Cup.
“We’re proud of making it to a final like this,” remarked Schweinsteiger. The contest has taken place in Monaco since 1998, but the 38th edition in the Golden City of Prague launches a new era whereby the game changes venue each season. Opponents Chelsea will welcome the switch, as the West London side were despatched 4-1 by Atletico Madrid in the corresponding match in Monaco last August.
Mourinho: A perfect team
Change was in the air at Chelsea over the summer. Germany international André Schürrle is one of a host of new signings for the Blues, who are now managed by prodigal son José Mourinho. The Special One had nothing but effusive praise for Bayern in his pre-match remarks on Thursday: “They’re a fantastic, perfect team,” declared the Portuguese supremo, “it’s fantastic for us to be playing the Champions League winners. We’ll find out where we stand.”
Mourinho’s team will be close to full strength, although marquee signing Willian is ineligible as his international clearance has still to be processed. Juan Mata and David Luiz are fit again after injury, but ‘Mou’ declined to confirm whether Schürrle might feature. Guardiola was similarly guarded about his formation, although the Spaniard is optimistic about the outcome: “I think we’ll turn in a very good performance.”