Bayern Munich 2 Chelsea 2: Four talking points from Uefa Super Cup
Bayern Munich 2 Chelsea 2: Four talking points as the Champions League holder lift the Uefa Super Cup glory in Prague
Hazard impresses at Eden Stadium
Much of the build-up to the Uefa Super Cup focused on Jose Mourinho’s use of four attacking midfielders against Manchester United on Monday night. Eden Hazard was the quietest of the quartet that started at Old Trafford. But clearly a favourite of the Chelsea manager (or at least judging by Juan Mata’s continued absence), Hazard was in the starting line-up for the Prague showpiece. And the 22-year-old impressed for the Europa League winners as his pace and trickery proved a constant menace. With Chelsea dropping deep to contain Bayern, Hazard was a vital outlet for his wearisome defensive team-mates as he bought the Blues breathing space. Fittingly, it was Hazard who produced a moment of magic at the Eden Stadium to momentarily edge Mourinho nearer his first piece of silverware of his second Chelsea reign. The Belgium international was able wrong-foot both Philip Lahm and Jerome Boateng before he fired a low effort past Germany’s number one. Although Manuel Neuer should have done better with the midfielder’s shot, it was fitting reward for Hazard’s tireless performance. The Bayern shot stopper would go on to make amends for his error with the crucial spot-kick save to deny substitute Romelu Lukaku and help the Bundesliga champions win the Uefa Super Cup.
Torres seizes chance to impress
Omitted from Mourinho’s starting line-up for the goalless draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford, Fernando Torres was chosen to lead the front-line against Bayern Munich. Whilst there were no points up for grabs, Mourinho’s long-running rivalry with Pep Guardiola meant Torres had the chance to win over the Happy One, who appears undecided on the Spaniard. The 29-year-old made the best possible start as he broke the deadlock in the eighth minute. Chelsea countered through Hazard with the Belgian picking out Andre Schürrle on the right wing. The German cut back his pass to Torres just inside Neuer’s area and the forward finished high into the roof of the net. It was a strike reminiscent of his Liverpool days. Torres also defended from the front as Chelsea pressed Bayern to prevent the Bundesliga champions playing out of their defence, the Guardiola way. The Blues striker, who has now scored in the finals of the European championship, Community Shield, the Europa League and Uefa Super Cup, could have doubled his tally before half-time. He collected Schürrle’s pass in the area, turning sharply to lose Dante, before firing narrowly over.
Luiz repays Mourinho faith
In a show of faith, David Luiz made his first start under Mourinho in Prague. The centre-half missed Chelsea’s opening three Premier League games as he continued to recover from a hamstring strain. Coinciding with that injury setback had been speculation linking the Brazilian with a move away from Stamford Bridge. Barcelona was one touted possible destination. Perhaps in a move to silence the growing whispers, Mourinho opted to play Luiz ahead of captain and Monday’s man-of-the-match John Terry. It was a gamble against a Bayern side ruthless at punishing their opponents, especially considering Luiz’s lack of first-team action. But Mourinho’s selection paid off as the South American, capped 28 times by A Seleção, was solid in the heart of Chelsea’s defence. Bayern may have enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, but thanks to Luiz’s reading of the game, the Bundesliga champions were thwarted when attempting to play the final killer pass. Of course, as Premier League fans have grown accustomed to, Luiz had his trademark share of flash-points. With Bayern flying out of the blocks in the second half, Luiz was regularly called into action, whether it be a speculative scissor-kick clearance or a crushing tackle on Thomas Mueller. The Brazilian did finally find his way into Jonas Eriksson’s book for a robust aerial challenge on Mario Mandzukic, and Luiz’s temperament is one crinkle in the defender’s game which will need to be ironed out by Mourinho. Having said that, kept his nerve to convert his spot-kick in the penalty shootout.
Bayern miss midfield anchor men
Ahead of the match, Guardiola praised his adversary Mourinho for the Chelsea manager’s ability to create devastating counter-attacking sides at his former clubs. It was an insight into one area of concern for the Bayern boss ahead of Friday night’s showpiece. Guardiola was short on holding midfielders with his first-choice pair of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez both recovering from injury (the latter started from the bench), as well as Thiago Alcantara, while Luiz Gustavo joined Wolfsburg earlier this month. The Spaniard shuffled his pack and Lahm played the anchor man role with Toni Kroos dropping deep when Bayern were without the ball. That happened rarely in the first half, but on the rare occasions Chelsea stole possession, the German side appeared vulnerable. This frailty was exposed in the eighth minute when Bayern failed to halt Hazard in the lead up to Torres’ strike. While Lahm is one of Europe’s best full-backs, with good reason, he isn’t a natural holding midfielder and certainly far from an intimidating one. So it was no surprise that Guardiola opted to introduce Spaniard Martinez from the bench in the early stages of the second half, serving to immediately add some much-needed bit to his midfield. It worked as Bayern were able to snuff out half-chances which fell the way of Hazard, Oscar or Torres.
Ribery justifies Best Player in Europe award
Unless you’re Cristiano Ronaldo, following in the footsteps of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta would leave most of Europe’s top players dwarfed in the shadow of the diminutive Barcelona pair. When Ribery won Uefa’s Best Player in Europe award ahead of Messi and Ronaldo on Thursday, it was met with a few raised eyebrows. However, the France international, who has overcome a series of setbacks in his career, answered those critics on Friday. Ribery led the charge at Petr Cech’s goal in the first-half as he fired a couple of warning shots at the Czech Republic international. It took the 30-year-old a matter of minutes after the interval to level the showpiece. Cutting in from the left, Ribery sent a low finish crashing past Cech in a moment of sheer individual brilliance. By now, Ribery was virtually becoming unplayable as he dragged Branislav Ivanovic away from the touchline and in-field. The Frenchman’s purple patch did come to an end as his performance plateaued in the latter stages, wasting a late chance to win the trophy in normal time. The former Marseille man did his bit in the penalty shootout too, calmly slotting past Cech despite Chelsea jeers.