Chelsea face Villarreal in the UEFA Super Cup Final in Belfast on Wednesday as the Blues have the opportunity to win their first piece of silverware of the 2021/22 season.
Thomas Tuchel’s side will play infront of 13,000 spectators as Windsor Park will be at 70% capacity. The match will be the biggest attendance at a sporting event in Northern Ireland since March 2020.
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The Blues face off against Unai Emery’s Europa League winners, qualifying for the competition after winning the Champions League in May.
The match comes just days before Chelsea’s Premier League opener against Crystal Palace with several returning internationals unlikely to feature in Northern Ireland.
Chelsea come into this game unbeaten following an impressive pre-season. The Blues registered three wins from four matches in the build up to the season.
First came a 6-1 victory against Peterborough United in a behind closed doors affair before playing infront of a crowd in a 2-1 victory at Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium.
The Blues then featured in the Mind Series and were crowned Champions following a victory at the Emirates stadium against Arsenal before a 2-2 draw at home to Tottenham Hotspur.
Plenty of changes were made throughout pre-season, with Tuchel having as many as 42 players to choose from at one point. The international’s have now returned and big stars such as Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and N’Golo Kante are back.
Our opponent’s last victory came in the Europa League Final against Manchester United (on penalties) as Villarreal did not win a match in pre-season, starting with a 3-2 defeat to La Liga rivals Valencia back in mid July. The Yellow Submarine then recorded draws with Lyon and Levante before two defeats to Marseille and Leicester City. Their most recent match was a 2-2 draw with Leeds United.
Mason Mount, Ben Chilwell, Reece James, Emerson Palmieri, Jorginho and Thiago Silva are all in the squad but won’t play the full 90 minutes due to only just returning to pre-season following international duty.
Chelsea’s top goalscorer in pre-season, Hakim Ziyech, is also named in the squad and could be seen from the start.
The Blues’ Champions League winning goalscorer Havertz is likely to play from the beginning, having given Chelsea the opportunity to play in the competition for the first time since 2013.
Trevoh Chalobah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have been included on the trip as the two players will be looking to impress in a competitive match after catching the eye in pre-season.
The Blues have lost their last two Super Cup matches against Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich but there is a much different feel around the club this time around.
Chelsea and Tuchel come into the match off an impressive end of last season and have looked sharp in pre-season and with the majority of Windsor Park in support of the Blues, Chelsea should add their first piece of silverware this season.