Champions League winners Liverpool beat the Europa League champions Chelsea on penalties in the UEFA Super Cup final in Istanbul on Wednesday night. Here are three things to take from the match.
Liverpool’s high line needs more work
We saw Liverpool adopt a high defensive line in their opening Premier League match against Norwich and they did the same in Istanbul, but on both occasions the opposition got in behind them all too easily.
As it turned out, it didn’t really cost them too much in either game, although they had their goalkeeper Adrian to thank a couple of times against Chelsea, as he made saves or was quick off his line to deny danger. With no real pace in the Norwich or Blues attack, the Reds got away with some sloppiness but that won’t continue forever. It could be worth keeping an eye on Jurgen Klopp’s defence in the coming weeks to see if it returns to the strength of last term.
Mateo Kovacic has a change of role
During the reign of Maurizio Sarri as Chelsea boss, it was a long-running joke that he would always replace Ross Barkley with Croatia international Mateo Kovacic and vice-versa, but under Frank Lampard there appears to be a change of thinking as far as the midfielder is concerned.
He was primarily used in a defensive or containing role last term, but with injuries to the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Willian, he has played much further forward under the former Derby boss, allowing the World Cup finalist the opportunity to showcase his skills in a dangerous area of the park. The former Real Madrid man is often forgotten with the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Ivan Rakitic spoken of in big circles for his country, but if his new role at Chelsea continues, the 25-year-old could well join that illustrious trio.
Christian Pulisic has the quality to excite Blues fans
When Eden Hazard decided to swap Stamford Bridge for the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer, Chelsea fans could be forgiven for wondering who would be the next man to entertain them in the way that the mercurial Belgian did throughout his time with the Blues.
The answer could well be America international Christian Pulisic. The former Borussia Dortmund playmaker was brought off the bench in the 4-0 loss to Manchester United on Sunday afternoon, but was handed a full debut by Lampard in Istanbul, rewarding the Chelsea boss with an assist for Olivier Giroud, as the Blues took the lead against Liverpool.
Ultimately the Europa League winners could not hold onto their advantage, with Pulisic replaced by Mason Mount midway through the second half, but in the 74 minutes the American was on the pitch, he showed early signs that he could well step up and fill the big boots of Hazard in time, with a nice array of touches and an eye for goal. He is one to watch in the weeks to come.