The Italian Super Cup kicks off on Saturday August 8 in Beijing, China. Serie A winners Inter will take on Lazio, winners of the Coppa Italia. The Super Coppa Italia has looked to distant shores to host it’s season opening show piece with Washington, Tripoli and New York all hosting the event in years gone by. The Bird’s Nest in China will no doubt fill its 80,000 capacity and try to imitate the cauldrons that are the Giuseppe Meazza and the Stadio Olimpico. Marketing may be the reason that these games are held abroad but it is also a chance for the rest of the world to look on and view the talents so readily available in Italy, many of whom will be on show in China. The Serie A season is getting ever closer and both teams will be wanting to pick up the first available piece of silverware.
It is impossible to talk about the Nerazzurri this summer without mentioning the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimović to the Camp Nou. In normal circumstances, selling your star player would indicate decline or admittance that you are not a major player in world football. However, this transfer has been different – Samuel Eto’o plus £40m was given in exchange and this can only be seen as shrewd business, if not a masterstroke, by President Massimo Moratti. Eto’o is likely to partner new summer signing Diego Milito (who arrived from Genoa) in attack, indicating that this could be a make or break season for the talented but moody Mario Balotelli. Bayern Munich’s Lúcio has also arrived at the back to strengthen the already impressive defence, as well as Thiago Motta, again from Genoa, who has strengthened the midfield.
12 Júlio César
13 Maicon – 6 Lúcio – 26 Chivu – 4 Zanetti
11 Muntari – 19 Cambiasso – 8 Thiago Motta
9 Eto’o – 22 Milito
Lazio have had an impressive pre-season, however, they are not a team without problems. It looks likely that Goran Pandev, Cristian Ledesma and Lorenzo De Silvestri will all be left out of the squad that is heading to Beijing, the trio being punished for openly stating their desires to leave the club. It seems that Lazio Boss Davide Ballardini wants to create a tight squad that has players who will play for the shirt. This may also be related to the widespread calls to trim the Biancocelesti playing staff. Notable arrivals are Julio Cruz from Inter, who will be looking to show former Coach José Mourinho what he is missing, and talented midfielder Eliseu from Málaga. It may well be Ballardini’s act of creating a united Lazio that could see them spring a surprise on Saturday.
3 Scaloni– 87 Diakité – 13 Siviglia – 2 Lichtsteiner
17 Foggia – 7 Eliseu – 24 Meghni – 5 Mauri
9 Rocchi – 10 Zárate
In Serie A last season Inter managed to beat Lazio 2-0 in Milan, and then go one better at the Olimpico, winning 3-0. Coach José Mourinho will be looking to these results as a bench mark as Moratti has made it clear that winning Serie A is now to be the staple diet of the club, whilst the Champions League appears to be the primary goal. The Bird’s Nest showdown will no doubt be used by the ‘Special One’ as a signal of intent. Yet, the Biancocelesti have a certain expertise when it comes to one-off, big pressure games. Their march to the Coppa Italia title last year boasted some impressive results and some even more impressive scalps – though many of these victories were led by their disgruntled front man Pandev. Lazio therefore will be no pushovers for the Scudetto holders, and by Saturday we could well see l’Aquile making a home of the Bird’s Nest.