Liverpool and Chelsea are in Istanbul to contest the 2019 UEFA Super Cup Final. The original format started in 1972 when the European Cup winners took on the Cup Winners Cup champions in a two-legged tie, but since 1998, the match has become a straight shoot-out between the Champions League kings and the Cup Winners Cup/ UEFA Cup/Europa League winners.
Over its 47-year history, the contest, despite having its detractors, has thrown up the odd memorable moment as we look back at five of the best matches from the competition.
LIVERPOOL v HAMBURG 1977
England superstar Kevin Keegan had signed off at Liverpool in Jubilee year by helping the Merseyside club lift their first-ever European Cup on an unforgettable night in Rome’s Olympic Stadium in May. Keegan had already decided to go in search of a new adventure and the football world was stunned when he announced that he was off to Germany to play for Hamburg. When he arrived at the Bundesliga club as their only foreign export, complete with new bubble perm and a top-ten single, the rest of the squad looked upon the Englishman as a bit of a flash, fancy dan sort of guy, and the player whose nickname was Mighty Mouse found himself ostracised from the rest of the team.
Incredibly, his first competitive game for his new side saw Keegan come up against his former employers in the Super Cup and after a 1-1 draw at the Volkparkstadion, KK was given a hero’s welcome in the second-leg back at Anfield. 90 minutes and six goals later, Keegan was left wondering what the hell he’d got himself into as his Hamburg side were ripped apart by a rampant Reds side who proved beyond any doubt who were the best side in Europe in the late 1970s.
ASTON VILLA V BARCELONA 1982
The 1982 Super Cup Final actually took place in 1983, January to be precise as European Cup winners Aston Villa took on Catalan giants Barcelona. The English side were unlucky to be beaten by a single goal in a vicious first-leg at the Camp Nou and the return at Villa Park a week later with Barca unable to call upon Diego Maradona due to illness, turned into one of the most memorable matches the famous old stadium has ever seen. With just ten minutes remaining and the sides locked a 0-0, Gary Shaw, who looked like he should have been fronting Brummie super-group Duran Duran instead of playing football, pulled Villa level to send the Holt End delirious.
The game had once again been a bad-tempered affair with vendettas carried over from the match in Catalonia with Barcelona deciding that brutality was their best form of defence and kicking anything that moved in a claret and blue jersey. Ten minutes into extra-time Gordon “Sid” Cowans gave Villa the advantage and five minutes later, big Scottish defender Ken McNaught put the result beyond doubt. After his defensive partner and fellow countryman Allan Evans saw red along with Barcelona’s Julio Alberto, Villa decided to spend the second-half of extra-time taking the piss which enraged the visitors even more; the final straw coming when goalkeeper Urruti decided to show his arse to the officials to earn himself a five-match ban.
CHELSEA V REAL MADRID 1998
By the end of the last century, UEFA officials were fed up of the two-legged format nonsense so they decided to make the Super Cup a one-off game. The only decision now was to select a venue and a date with some maestro in the planning department suggesting the match be played in an exotic location at the same time as the draw for the group stages of the Champions League.
The venue would be a car park in Monaco called the Stade Louis II which housed around 15000 fans at most and which would be home to the trophy for the next 14 years. Just over 11K turned up to see the inaugural game in 1998 between Real Madrid and Chelsea, which the English side won thanks to an 83rd-minute goal from substitute Gus Poyet and which up until now, remains the West London side’s only success in the competition. The after-show party back at the Presidential Palace of Prince Albert II was thought to have had no bearing on the choice of venue.
MANCHESTER UNITED V LAZIO 1999
12 months later and the car park was almost full to capacity as treble winners Manchester United took on Lazio. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson spent almost half his career trying to tempt Chilean striker Marcelo Salas to come to Old Trafford and the player added more salt to the wound when he bagged the only goal of the game just after the half-hour mark to give the Italian side the cup.
The fact that United players had been partying since their dramatic Champions League Final win on May 29 against Bayern Munich didn’t help, as pundits across the country salivated at the fact that the club’s domestic dominance could be coming to an end; Ferguson’s side would end the 1999-2000 season as champions once again, winning the title by 18 points.
BARCELONA V SEVILLE 2015
Four of the last five Super Cups have been won by Spanish sides and in 2015, Barcelona and Sevilla were involved in a nine-goal thriller in what until now, has been the best match in the competition’s history. Unai Emery’s team were one-up inside three minutes thanks to a superb free-kick from Ever Banega before Lionel Messi drew Barca level four minutes later with another spectacular place-kick. The Argentine superstar repeated the act nine minutes later and the Champions League winners were 3-1 ahead at the interval thanks to a Rafinha goal on the stroke of half-time.
Luis Suarez added a fourth on 52 minutes so it was game over…right? Wrong; Jose Antonio Reyes, Kevin Gameiro (penalty) and Yevhen Konoplyanka brought Emery’s side back into the contest and they looked to have the momentum going into the extra 30 minutes. Hindsight is a wonderful thing however and Arsenal fans would probably now say “told you so” when substitute Pedro got on the end of another Messi free-kick five minutes from time to take the cup back to Catalonia.