The Super Cup is an odd competition. The league champions meet the domestic cup winners, and the victor is handed an additional trophy, one which he earned by winning just a single match.
In the past, football federations used the competition as a marketing tool to launch the footballing season, usually taking place one week prior to the first match-day.
Nonetheless, the Italians decided to be more creative with the timing, so instead of August, they opted to move their version of the Super Cup into the winter months, using it as a tool to promote their football in other countries, as the previous two fixtures took place in the warmth of KSA, while older editions were played in Qatar and China.
Although the Italian football federation, as well as the clubs involved were enjoying the new exposure – and perhaps the cash as well – for the fans, this competition was making even less sense than before.
When played in August, the supporters awaited the Super Cup simply because it was their first chance of witnessing the clubs compete in an official football match after the summer break.
However, the same can’t be said about the January timing, as this is the period when the teams and their fans should be shifting their attentions to much more important competitions.
With that being said, the upcoming Super Cup encounter against Napoli on Wednesday will be a must win match for Andrea Pirlo and Juventus.
The Supercoppa Italiana will never be a season defying competition for a club as ambitious as Juventus – nor even the Coppa Italia for that matter as I mentioned before. Think about the Old Lady’s last two managers – Max Allegri and Maurizio Sarri – who were both sent packing even after winning the Scudetto title.
But as they say, it’s all about timing, and at this particular moment of the season – which happens to be only three days after the humbling defeat at the hands of Inter – Pirlo just cannot afford another defeat, in another competition and against another one of his main rivals.
The saga between Juventus and Napoli has been one of the most compelling stories of the season, and the two foes are yet to meet on the field. Thus, a defeat against his former Milan teammate Gennaro Gattuso will turn the heat on the young Bianconeri manager to its highest levels.
On the other hand, a Super Cup triumph definitely won’t be enough to save the young coach’s job at the end of the season, but winning the first official trophy of the campaign would do well to lift the Bianconeri spirits at a time when they are apparently at their lowest.
In conclusion, Pirlo is stuck in a high risk – low reward situation, and the only way out of it is by winning the trophy that he probably desires the least.