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Iberians eye Super Cup silverware

The UEFA Super Cup in Monaco has a distinctly Iberian flavour as FC Porto meet Valencia CF to contest the first European silverware of 2004/05.

Past successes
The Portuguese champions, winners of the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League, will meet their Spanish counterparts, who lifted last season's the UEFA Cup, in the Stade Louis II in a match which forms the centrepiece of UEFA's annual Gala in the principality.

Past winners
Both teams have claimed the Super Cup on one previous occasion: Porto in 1987 with a 2-0 aggregate victory over AFC Ajax, and Valencia in 1980 on away goals after a 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest FC.

Bouncing back
Porto were beaten in last year's Super Cup, losing 1-0 to AC Milan after an Andriy Shevchenko goal. They bounced back to win the Champions League with a 3-0 success against AS Monaco FC in Gelsenkirchen on 26 May. A week earlier, Valencia had eased past Olympique de Marseille, 2-0 in Gothenburg, to take the UEFA Cup.

New coaches
Intriguingly, both clubs have new men at the helm after the coaches that led them to European glory last season both left for the English Premiership. With José Mourinho now in charge of Chelsea FC, 43-year-old former RC Celta de Vigo and Real Zaragoza coach Víctor Fernández is the new man at the helm of Porto, original replacement Luigi Del Neri having left the club without taking charge of a single competitive game.

Ranieri return
Meanwhile, Valencia have said farewell to Rafael Benítez, now in the hot-seat at Liverpool FC, and welcomed back former coach Claudio Ranieri, who Mourinho replaced at Chelsea. The 52-year-old was previously in charge of Valencia from 1997-99, guiding them to a Copa del Rey triumph, and was credited with laying the foundations for their appearances in the 2000 and 2001 Champions League finals.

Close-fought encounter
With both clubs also looking ahead to their upcoming Champions League group stage campaigns, and Ranieri and Fernández keen to stamp their authority on their new sides, it should be a close-fought encounter.

New arrivals
Several summer signings will also relish the chance of a first competitive run-out for their new clubs. Among Valencia's summer arrivals are Italian trio Stefano Fiore, Bernardo Corradi and Marco Di Vaio, while Porto are hoping for great things from the likes of Hugo Leal and Brazilian Copa América star Diego.