If there was any doubt about whether the Uefa Super Cup mattered then the reaction of Frank Lampard said it all. “It means a lot to the club,” the Chelsea head coach said before wincing at the memories.
“I know first hand because we lost two. We lost [4-1] to Atletico Madrid [in 2012] in poor circumstances and we were far, far off and gave them the Super Cup. We were unfortunate to lose [on penalties] to Bayern Munich [in 2013] … when you work hard to get into this game between two champions it is important that at a club like Chelsea we give everything to win it.”
So for Super Frank the Super Cup, which Chelsea won in 1998 against Real Madrid, is very important. The same applies to their opponents, Liverpool, in this fixture by the banks of the Bosporus between the European champions and the Europa League winners – the first time it has been contested by two English clubs – even if it comes so early in the campaign.
“Stay greedy,” is a phrase that Jurgen Klopp has used and it is to drive home the importance of not just winning one trophy – albeit the biggest – but to use that as a motivation, an incentive to win more.
Liverpool took the Community Shield seriouslyand will do so again here, with Klopp determined to create a culture of silverware becoming a habit, with it being the second of seven trophies they contest this season, including the Club World Cup.
“The Super Cup is the final proof,” Klopp has said. “If you are not in that game, it means you didn’t win the final … it’s a big one.”
Liverpool are in a far different, more mature stage of their cycle than Chelsea are under Lampard, with Klopp declaring: “We won one competition last season. This team is built to be successful and that’s what we try to do, and tomorrow night is another chance for us. With a bit more luck against [Manchester] City [in the Community Shield] we could have won it. Now we have to prove it again.”
Lampard acknowledged that taking this trophy might provide a “platform” of stability for what he accepted could be a “roller-coaster” campaign at Stamford Bridge. The 41-year-old has felt that already in the past week, with the drama of David Luiz leaving and then the heavy opening Premier League defeat by Manchester United.
Lampard said he felt the same sense in his first campaign as a manager at Derby County, but he also knows that the stakes are a lot higher at a club where he played with such distinction for so long and hopes to lead in the same manner. “I’m prepared for that and let’s see what the roller coaster brings moving forward,” Lampard said.
So much of Klopp’s management has also felt like a white-knuckle ride, with the thrills and spills that are at the heart of his football and the high energy he brings to every occasion. He will not want the adrenalin to drop, the momentum to dip, and there would surely also be delight in taking a prize that Manchester City cannot compete for this season.
Such is the intensity and scrutiny of modern football that trophies such as this one, once regarded as glorified friendlies, have currency. In effect, Jose Mourinho started that as he celebrated winning the Carling Cup against Arsenal in Cardiff in 2007 by waving five fingers in the air.
“It was five fingers for five trophies we have won in 2½ years: Premiership, Premiership, Carling Cup, Carling Cup and Community Shield,” Mourinho said at the time as he unashamedly included the latter prize, as Pep Guardiola and City have done with their “four-midable” tag line at the end of last season, when they included it in their unprecedented domestic clean sweep.
Lampard was in that Chelsea team under Mourinho and knows the value of winning competitions, especially his first as a manager.
“It would be a really nice start for me personally, but more than that a really good feeling for the players with the season coming up that we can compete with Liverpool,” Lampard said. “If we could win a cup that goes down in our history we can go on from there. We understand the importance of it.”
The flip side of that is if Chelsea are beaten, and badly beaten, then Lampard will feel the pressure before his first home game in charge, against Leicester City on Sunday. For all the good intentions, questions will be asked.
Lampard has to juggle his starting line-up, with fresh injury concerns over N’Golo Kante, who hurt his ankle after coming on as a substitute last Sunday and has suffered a “broken” pre-season.
Although the midfielder trained in Istanbul, he is expected to be on the bench along with Willian and Antonio Rudiger, who are working their way back to fitness.
Liverpool have their own worries, especially as they are away to Southampton on Saturday and have less time to acclimatisetheir new goalkeeper Adrian, who was signed asAlisson’s deputybut now has the gloves.
There is, though, never a danger of Klopp fielding a weakened side, with the encounter offering a perfect opportunity for Sadio Mane to start.
Whoever triumphs, England will have their first winners of this trophy since Liverpool gained it (for the third time) in 2005 which, of course, followed on from their miraculous European Cup win in this same city which hosts the final again this season. It may not mean as much as either of those games, but it matters all the same.