There will be a new name on the UEFA Super Cup this year, and, while Club Atlético de Madrid coach Quique Sánchez Flores is predicting a tight encounter, his FC Internazionale Milano counterpart Rafael Benítez aims to make history.
Neither Inter nor Atlético have contested this trophy before and the similarities between the clubs do not end there. The Nerazzurri had to wait 45 years for their UEFA Champions League success three months ago, while Atlético's sole major triumph on the continental stage before May's UEFA Europa League victory came in the 1962 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. Now, though, both sides are seeking a second European trophy of 2010.
Despite facing opponents that have won four pieces of silverware this year, Quique Flores feels the nature of the fixture at the Stade Louis II in Monaco will aid his Atlético charges. "I think the odds are 50-50 because of the players' energy and desire, and because it's a one-off match," the coach said. "If it were a league game perhaps Inter would be favourites, but in cup tie anything can happen."
Inter may be UEFA Super Cup debutants but Benítez has been here before, leading Liverpool FC to a 3-1 victory against PFC CSKA Moskva in 2005. Should he prevail again, he would become the sixth coach to land two UEFA Super Cups, yet the 50-year-old sees the occasion as a chance for his club, rather than as a potential feather in his cap. "It's not an added responsibility for me, but an opportunity for us all to do something for the history of this club."
While Atlético's players have got used to Quique Flores's ideas since his arrival last October, Benítez has had little time to impress his new formation after stepping into José Mourinho's shoes over the summer. It is an area Quique Flores – for whom defender Juanito is a doubt – thinks his team can exploit. "It's very hard to switch systems and it's hard to get to know [a new approach] in a short period so it will take time before we see Rafael Benítez's Inter for real.
"I have a good relationship with Rafa," the 45-year-old added of his fellow Spaniard. "I am a follower of his work and have a similar way of doing things." For his part, Benítez does not want to rush what he acknowledges as a work in progress. "It's important the players do things gradually, and for them to keep playing as they did last season for now." After picking up the Italian Super Cup last weekend, Benítez could collect a second honour in only his second competitive game with Inter. "If we are successful here it's because the club did really well before I came. We have to exploit the opportunities that come our way."
©UEFA.com 1998-2011. All rights reserved.