Sneijder and Forlan battle to light up Super Cup
Milan: Inter Milan playmaker Wesley Sneijder and Atletico Madrid striker Diego Forlan can strengthen their cases to be World Player of the Year with more stellar performances in Friday`s European Super Cup.
Sneijder was inspirational in Inter`s Champions League, Serie A and Italian Cup treble last term before helping the Netherlands to the final of the World Cup, where Uruguay`s Forlan was named Player of the Tournament.
The winner of the new combined FIFA Golden Ball award for 2010 will be announced in January and both players are in the running despite their modesty.
"At the moment I`m not thinking about what I can win, just the match with Atletico," Sneijder told Inter`s TV channel. "Personal awards are great but you can`t win them without having a solid team at your back."
Ominously for Inter and then La Liga, Forlan is fired up for the new season despite his exertions in leading Uruguay to the semi-finals in South Africa.
"After my holiday I feel refreshed and my body has recovered. I love playing and I am eager to get back out there to perform for my club," he said.
The game will also be important for new Inter coach Rafa Benitez, who could win a second trophy in a week if the European champions beat Europa League winners Atletico in Monaco.
The Champions League, Serie A and Italian Cup treble winners waved goodbye to inspirational coach Jose Mourinho as he left for Real Madrid but Benitez has hardly made any changes to the winning side since arriving from Liverpool.
He played the same team from May`s Champions League final in the 3-1 win over AS Roma in last Saturday`s Italian Super Cup although in truth Roma were unlucky to lose.
Atletico reached two finals last season, falling to Sevilla in the King`s Cup a week after their win over Fulham in the Europa League final, but had a disappointing La Liga campaign.
A lack of consistency stemming from a shaky defence has been tackled, however, with Uruguay`s Diego Godin and Brazilian full back Felipe Luis brought in to strengthen the backline.
Fran Merida has been recruited from Arsenal for the midfield, while Portugal playmaker Tiago has been secured on loan again from Juventus, though he is unlikely to feature.
Coach Quique Sanchez Flores is happy as underdogs on Friday.
"Our only advantage in this game is that it is a one-off," he told reporters earlier this week.
"I view it as an epilogue to last season, a reward. We`ll demand a lot from ourselves but we can`t turn a fiesta into a funeral, whatever happens. On Monday, we`ll be motivated for the start of the league whether we win the title or not."
The match will see five men officiating at the Super Cup for the first time, with one additional assistant behind each goal given the expansion of last season`s experiment in the Europa League has been extended to the Champions League this season.
Inter Milan: 1-Julio Cesar; 13-Maicon, 6-Lucio, 25-Walter Samuel, 26-Cristian Chivu; 4-Javier Zanetti, 10-Wesley Sneijder, 19-Esteban Cambiasso; 9-Samuel Eto`o, 22-Diego Milito, 27-Goran Pandev
Atletico Madrid: 13-David de Gea: 17-Tomas Ujfalusi, 25-Diego Godin, 18-Alvaro Dominguez, 24-Felipe Luis; 19-Jose Antonio Reyes, 12-Paulo Assuncao, 8-Raul Garcia, 11-Fran Merida; 7-Diego Forlan, 10-Sergio Aguero
Referee: Massimo Busacca (Switzerland)