European football’s final showdown of the season pits two Spanish teams against each other for the second year in a row.
Champions League winners FC Barcelona take on Europa League winners Sevilla FC in a one legged affair in Georgia on Wednesday. The first of the two Super Cups mark a possible fourth trophy for Barcelona with the second Super Cup being played 3 days later, against Athletic Bilbao.
Barcelona go into this match without their star forward Neymar Junior who was found to be affected by Mumps. Jordi Alba and Douglas also miss the match with injuries. Also, their new signings Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan won’t be able to play till the January of next year given their transfer ban which restricts them to register player for another 6 months.
Sevilla FC has had a significant change in their squad after their win in the Europa league final in 2014-15. More than 10 players have left the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan since that match including three members of the starting line-up, and almost as many new faces have since joined.
Carlos Bacca who has scored 49 goals in the past two seasons has left the club fo Italian outfit AC Milan and is replaced by French forward Kevin Gameiro who isn’t far behind Bacca interms of goals co with a total of 38 goals in two seasons. Although, less physically imposing than Bacca, Gameiro is more efficient and has performed better in the link-up play with the rest of the team.
Barcelona and Sevilla have been trading partners as of late as they have sold and bought so many of each other’s players in recent times with Barca doing the buying part. Considering the current squad, Barca bought arguably one of the best right backs of the game, Dani Alves from Sevilla. They bought the versatile midfielder Ivan Rakitic from them last season, Left Back Adriano and have most recently added Dani Alves’s competitor Aleix Vidal from the same. Barca on the other hand have been sending their youth players to Unai Emery’s side as they have done with the likes of Gerrard Delofeu and Denis Suarez.
Barca and Sevilla went head to head two times in the last Liga campaign where Barca capped a one sided 5-0 win in the home leg with Lionel Messi scoring a suberb hat-trick to complete his 400 goals for the club. While the away leg was a difficult one for the Luis Enrique’s as they had to be satisfied with a 2-2 draw when goals from Ever Banega and Kevin Gameiro threw a spanner into the Barca’s title chase and stunned them by overcoming a 2 goal deficit.
Now going back to 2006, their last UEFA Super Cup encounter, when Frank Rijkard was the manager of the Camp Nou outfit. Barca had just won the Spanish League and the UEFA Champions League but their success was quickly tempered as the Blaugranas were almost dismantled by their compatriots in a one sided match.
That Sevilla squad was possibly the best squad in their history which was driven by a player at his absolute peak, Dani Alves who has since then became a part of Barca’s golden era, winning an unprecedented double treble.
Date: Tuesday, August 11
Time: 11:30 p.m. IST
Venue: Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, Tbilisi, Georgia
Where to Watch: Ten Sports
Barcelona(4-3-3) : Ter Stegen , Dani Alves, Gerrard Pique, Javier Mascherano, Jeremy Mathieu, Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Pedro, Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi
Sevilla (4-2-3-1): Beto; Mariano, Coke, Krychowiak, Tremoulinas; Iborra, Banega; Reyes, Konoplyanka, Vitolo; Gameiro
Barcelona are undoubtedly the favorites in this match with the return of their star forward Lionel Messi in their squad. But their opposition have a thing for unpredictability of which Luis Enrique has to be careful of and it will take only one error to see a final slip away, not to mention a sextuple.
Luis Enrique has completed a historical achievement of winning a treble in his first season at the club and he would want to match his compatriot Pep Guardiola’s record of securing the sextuple. No other team in the history of football has managed to win six trophies in a year with Barcelona now aiming for repeating this amazing feat.
There will be goals from both the sides but given the Catalans’ superiority in attack, it should be a comfortable win for Barcelona unless something unnatural happens with the Catalans.
3-1 win for Barcelona
(Image Credits: Bleacher Report)