Cardiff plays host to the UEFA Super Cup tomorrow night, between Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal with both sides looking to lift the trophy for the first time in the competition’s 42-year history, having been losing finalists once each.
Champions League winners Dortmund will give a late fitness test to Lars Bender as he recovers from a wrist injury, but are likely to stick with the central midfield pairing of Sven Bender and Dennis Praet from Friday’s 3-0 Bundesliga win over SV Werder Bremen. Stevan Jovetic has returned to full training following a knee injury and may also feature.
First Team Manager Grayson Surman, who will be taking charge of his 100th competitive match in his managerial career, is likely to give a start to Mario Götze after his two goals at the weekend, and will choose between André Schürrle and Viktor Fischer on the left.
Arsenal can boast a fully-fit squad, with no selection concerns through injury or suspension, and will be looking to kick-start their season after two poor results so far. An opening day defeat at Fulham, going three-down after half-hour, was followed by a dour 1-1 home draw with Wolves.
A summer outlay of £38m was invested in three players: centre-back Sebastián Coates moved from Liverpool for £8.5m, and attacking midfielder Miroslav Stoch joined from Fenerbahçe in a £11.25m deal. Xherdan Shaqiri also arrived from Bayern Munich, with Olivier Giroud and £6m going in the opposite direction.
BVB and Arsenal met twice last year in the Champions League with Dortmund winning 2-0 at home, before coming from two-down to snatch a late draw in north London that condemned Arsenal to finish 3rd in Group H, though they later won the Europa League to set-up tomorrow’s match.
The sides are both in Pot 1 in today’s Champions League Group Stage draw, so they will avoid each other until the knockout stages at the earliest. Curiously, the clubs met a fortnight ago with Dortmund U19s beating Arsenal U18s on penalties after a 2-2 draw.
Arsenal’s only previous appearance in the UEFA Super Cup was in the two-legged affair in February 1995 after beating Parma 1-0 in the 1994 Cup Winners Cup Final. They drew 0-0 with AC Milan at home, before losing 0-2 in the San Siro to the Champions League winners.
Dortmund featured in the last-ever two-legged affair back in early-1998 after they lifted the 1997 Champions League with a 3-1 victory over Juventus. They lost the first leg 0-2 away to Cup Winners Cup holders Barcelona, before a 1-1 draw back in Germany.
Draw (90′): 2-1
Ref: Fırat Aydınus (Turkey)
Surman took time to briefly answer some questions as the squad flew into the UK:
“I’m definitely excited for tomorrow, it’s an exciting occasion between two teams who worked hard to win their respective trophies and both deserve to be here.
I hope we can add another trophy to the collection, and give the travelling fans a reason to celebrate. This match doesn’t come round too often for individual clubs. Neither side has won this before, so someone will create club history.
[On the transfer window closing] These things can happen very quickly, so I wouldn’t rule anything in or out. We’ve nothing on the cards, but players suddenly become available or in demand.
I am not interested in Jack Rodwell. I don’t know where this story has come from. We’ve not scouted him nor made any approach.