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UEFA Super Cup

This year’s UEFA Super Cup will throw up a massive battle. The game is pencilled in for Friday, August 30th and it will be played at the Eden Arena in Prague, Czech Republic. Stepping out to duel for the title, which was formerly the European Super Cup, will be UEFA Champions League winners Bayern Munich and UEFA Europa League winners Chelsea. It is a mouth watering clash between two of Europe’s heavyweights and for the first time in the last four year’s there won’t be a Spanish name on the title. Barcelona and Altetico Madrid had spilt the last four editions between them at two each.

It was Altetico Madrid who destroyed Chelsea in last season’s UEFA Super Cup, then with Chelsea as Champions League winners, and the Spaniards holding the UEFA Europa League title. A tremendous performance from Atletico’s Radamel Falcao saw the English Premier League club get shot down 4-1 on the night at the Stade Louis II, where the Super Cup had been held for the previous fifteen years. It is a match which will now go its travels, with the 2014 edition at the Cardiff City Stadium, and the 2015 showing at the Mikheil Meskhi Stadium.

Former Barcelona man Pep Guardiola is now at the helm of the German powerhouse side, and they are trading as favourites to win the 2013 UEFA Super Cup. Interestingly though, history is not particularly on their side here, as they have been to the UEFA Super Cup three times before, in 1975, 1976 and most recently in 2001 and they lost all three of those appearances. That is in contrast to Chelsea who have won one and lost one of their two appearances. But with the power that Bayern Munich displayed last season on all fronts, producing a stunning style of play, an immense defence and immense prowess in front of goal, they are favourites.

Chelsea were in this position last season, as mentioned, when they went up against Atletico Madrid. The Spaniards didn’t give the Blues a chance in the game. But there is of course this time around, the Jose Mourinho factor who is back in charge at Stamford Bridge again. The Blues haven’t been splashing big cash around during the summer, as many had expected them to do. They did draft in a big German name though in the form of Andre Schurrle from Bayer Leverkusen, and were actively trying to lure Wayne Rooney away from Premier League rivals Manchester United.

This match up will bring back memories of the last time the two clubs met, which was in the final of the 2011/12 Champions League. With a 1-1 draw on the night in Munich, Chelsea were totally outplayed by the German side, yet it was the English side who prevailed in a dramatic penalty shoot out after having their backs to the wall. The previous meetings between the two sides before that came in the 2004/05 Champions League, with both sides winning their respective home matches. Over the summer, Bayern Munich were trading at 5/6, favourites, with Chelsea out at 15/4 in 2013 UEFA Super Cup betting odds.

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Chelsea v Benfica Europa Final

Chelsea remain on course to become the first ever club to win UEFA’s top competitions in reverse order (the European Cup then the UEFA Cup) as they moved through to the final of this season’s Europa League. So the Blues are Amsterdam bound for Wednesday, May 15th and there they will come up against the exciting attacking talents of Portuguese side Benfica, with their front line being led by the dangerous Oscar Cardozo. Also at stake for Chelsea in the final will be the honour of joining the elite few clubs who have won all of UEFA’s top honours, the European Champion Clubs’ Cup, the UEFA Cup/Europa League and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. If Chelsea win in Amsterdam, the will join Juventus, Ajax and Bayern Munich in achieving the feat.

The Premier League side will start as favourites in the final of the Europa League for many, but will they be able to deliver? It may not be as straightforward as many will be thinking for Rafa Benitez’s men, who go as favourites at odds of 7/5 with Benfica out at 2/1.

Chelsea booked their place in the final with a semi final victory over the gutsy FC Basel from Switzerland. The Swiss side had already eliminated Tottenham in the quarter finals and with their pacy attacking down the flanks, caused Chelsea some problems. But the extra quality which Chelsea could call upon was telling at the end of the day in the second leg back at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea took a 5-2 win on aggregate against the Swiss side, as they progressed to what will be the fourth ever UEFA Europa League final. While Chelsea’s performances in Europe in general this season have been lacklustre and shaky at times, they have ridden their luck and produced the goals necessary to make it to the final.

It will be some great consolation for the London side after failing miserably in the defence of their Champions League crown by crashing out of the group stage in disappointing fashion. Their Europa League final opponents Benfica also joined up with this season’s Europa League after failing to progress from their Champions League group. On their way to the finals, they won four and lost one of their six matches. Their semi final match against the defensively sound Turkish side Fenerbache, saw the Portuguese side do enough in the return leg to overturn a one goal deficit, winning out 3-2 on aggregate as the challenge of the Turks ran out of steam. Between themselves and Chelsea, Benfica have a greater history in European finals, this being their ninth compared to Chelsea’s fifth.

Benfica have converted just twice in their previous eight European finals, losing the last six in a row. Chelsea have struck three wins in their four European finals, the only loss coming in a penalty shoot out in the 2007/08 Champions League final against Manchester United.

The two sides came together for the first time in the Champions League last season, meeting in the quarter finals. Chelsea took a 2-1 home win at the Bridge after snatching a win out in Lisbon.

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Fenebahce and Benfica Europa Semi-Final

Fenerbahce v Benfica is one half of the semi final line up for this season’s UEFA Europa League. The two clubs will come together for the first time after a very long span of almost 40 years without having faced each other. 38 years ago the two sides met in their only other two-legged meeting in the European Champion Clubs’ Cup first round. On that occasion there was a very comprehensive result, with Portuguese side Benfica running out 7-1 winners. The Turkish outfit will be hoping to avoid the same fate, as the two go head to head again with the goal of booking a spot in the final against either Chelsea or FC Basel.

Fenerbahce
The Turkish side have never been to a European final before, and in holding off Lazio in the quarter finals, they broke new ground in getting to their first major semi final. The Turkish outfit took a 3-1 aggregate win over the Italian side, Caner Erkin’s second half strike earning a draw at the Stadio Olimpico in the second leg. So they moved through to the semi finals of a European competition at their third attempt after failing in their only other two European quarter final appearances. Fenerbahce are on the brink of setting a competition record after going unbeaten in six away matches in the tournament. They will have seen the progress of Benfica though, a very entertaining and classy side and know that home advantage is going to be all important. Keeping the Portuguese off the scoresheet it going to be crucial and Fenerbahce hold a W2 D0 L1 record at home against Portuguese sides. They are unbeaten in their six European matches played in 2013, but the goal scoring has been low, averaging just a goal per game. That could be the costly factor for the Turks.

Benfica
The Portuguese outfit have never won a match in Turkey, holding a W0 D2 L1 record from their three previous visits. The first leg of this semi final will be the first time that they have played in Istanbul. They are a very powerful outfit though and will be favourites to get through this tie. Since they joined up with this season’s UEFA Europa League after dropping out of the Champions League group stage, they have won five of their six games on the way to the semi’s. Benfica looked comfortable enough in their semi final against the Premier League’s Newcastle, a 3-1 win at home in the first leg really doing all the damage. They look a very well balanced and composed side and came through the second leg away in England without too much stress. They play a very fluid and exciting game of football and have big threat in front of goal with Oscar Cardozo. They will likely be the ones pressing the hardest and if they hold their own in Istanbul, their home form would most likely carry them through.

Head to Head
The previous meetings came back in 1975 and Benfica thumped Fenerbahce 7-0 in Lisbon and then lost 1-0 in the return leg.

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