Sun | Aug 25, 2019

Liverpool, Chelsea clash in Super League

Published:Wednesday | August 14, 2019 | 12:16 AM

Liverpool return to the scene of their most dramatic European triumph when they face Chelsea in Istanbul for the Super Cup today, the first major men’s European final to be refereed by a woman.

For any Liverpool fan, Istanbul brings back memories of the thrilling comeback from 3-0 down to win the Champions League final against AC Milan in 2005. The Super Cup is little more than a ceremonial opener for the new European season, but a win could give Champions League winners Liverpool and already-struggling Europa League winners Chelsea, some valuable early-season momentum.

For Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool, it’s a chance to continue a strong start to the season after their 4-1 thrashing of Norwich on the opening day of the Premier League on Friday. New manager Frank Lampard and Chelsea must bounce back from a 4-0 loss to Manchester United.

Liverpool are unbeaten against English teams in Europe over six games stretching back to 2009, when they lost a Champions League quarter-final to Chelsea.

Frappart to referee the match

Fresh off refereeing the Women’s World Cup final, France’s Stéphanie Frappart will be in the spotlight when she controls today’s game.

Frappart is no stranger to men’s games after making her debut in the French league in April. She was calm under pressure when the United States beat the Netherlands in July’s Women’s World Cup final, using the video assistant referee system to award the penalty for the US to take the lead.

Frappart is not quite the first woman to referee European men’s games - Swiss referee Nicole Petignat handled three UEFA Cup qualifiers over a decade ago. Frappart is by far the most high-profile.

One game into the season is a bit early for an injury crisis.

However, after first-choice goalkeeper Alisson hurt his calf on Friday, Klopp was left with new signing Adrian as his only fit ‘keeper.

Two other backup options have injuries too, forcing Liverpool into the emergency signing of 35-year-old former Middlesbrough goalkeeper Andy Lonergan.

In attack, Sadio Mane could make his first start this season after coming on as a substitute against Norwich.

This will be one last reminder of just how dominant English clubs were in Europe last season, with the Premier League providing all four finalists in the Champions League and Europa League.

Liverpool were the last English winner of the Super Cup 14 years ago against CSKA Moscow and there has never before been an all-English game. Chelsea won against Real Madrid in 1998 but lost to Atletico Madrid in 2012 and Bayern Munich a year later.

Spanish clubs won the last five Super Cups, four of which were all-Spanish affairs.