Barcelona will start their competitive campaign against Sevilla in Spanish Super Cup on Sunday at 1:30 AM IST. FC Barcelona has traveled to Andalusia for their competitive season opener against Sevilla in the first leg of Supercopa de España, the Spanish Super Cup which is played between the winners of La Liga and the Copa del Rey. In the event that a team wins both La Liga and the Copa del Rey, just in the case of Barcelona for last season, the runners up of the Copa del Rey play against the winner of La Liga.
Sevilla – the hat-rick Europa league winner have already played their first competitive game this season against 11th time Champions league winner Real Madrid. They got defeated against the Real Madrid fringe attack, who were missing the likes of Ronaldo and Bale upfront. Sergio Ramos, Real captain and savior was there to help them secure 2-1 win over Europe’s second division winner Sevilla. But, you cannot underestimate the Europe’s second division most successful team of the decade, with only one defeat.
Sevilla is going through a change in process, after three successive season glory in Europe League under the outgoing manager Uni Emery and with the help of their star striker Kevin Gamerio, who also left the club for Atletico Madrid. The new Sevilla boss Jorge Sampaoli who is fresh from his successes with the Chilean national team with two successive Copa America wins will be tested against Messi & Co. Barcelona. Already tested Messi with Argentina in two successive Copa America finals and overcoming Messi’s Argentina challenge on both occasion, Messi has a point to prove against Sampaoli new side, whom he will get chance to play more often in Spain.
Luis Enrique has already mentioned his current Barcelona squad is best ever, and he will be looking forward to grab every championship which come in his way during his new campaign. Barcelona won La Liga and Copa del Rey last season, but they got defeated against Atletico Madrid in quarterfinal of Champions League to end his reign of triple winner in his very first campaign as a manager for Barcelona.
Barcelona starting eleven is not quite clear because new arrivals positions to play are not confirmed. And, fitness worries of Jordi Alba and Ter Stegen added to the problems. In Ter Stegen absence Claudio Bravo- the first choice keeper will play which has been compromised due to the demands of Stegen for regular playing time. Who will fill in the shoe of Dani Alves is not confirmed either as Enrique is still testing Aleix Vidal or Sergio Roberto in the role. Jordi Alba absence may give a competitive debut to the new joiners Lucas Digne who hasn’t seen in Barcelona colors since his joining. Gerard Pique & Javier Mascherano, Enrique’s favorite central defender may start the game, but Mathieu has more match practice in pre-season than them. Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic – Barcelona current midfield trio is likely to start, and Denis Suarez and Andre Gomes may come as a substitute in second half. Neymar absence due to his national duty with Brazil should have given more chances to Munir El Haddadi to prove his point but Arda Turan availability is killing his match time with Blaugranas. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez is undoubtedly going to start and duo will definitely test Sampaoli Sevilla defence.
On the other hand Sevilla boss will be playing against a team who also like to keep possession, and it will be a real test for him, although he didn’t get much time to get together his team to play a possession game football. Although a 3-2 extra-time defeat against Real Madrid in Tuesday’s UEFA Super Cup in Trondheim, Sevilla impressed many with their performance and Jorge Sampaoli is keen for his side to continue in a similar vein. A number of new players have come in, including Luciano Vietto, Matias Kranevitter (those two on loan), Ganso, Wissam Ben Yedder, Gabriel Mercado and Joaquin Correa to join Sampaoli new Sevilla. And, we have seen season veterans Kevin Gameiro, Ever Banega, Coke, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Fernando Llorente, Jose Antonio Reyes and Ciro Immobile leaving the club.
Timothee Kolodziejczak and Daniel Carrico miss out through suspension while Nicolas Pareja misses out through injury, but fortunately club captain Vicente Iborra has shaken off a knock and is expected to start. Sampaoli has issued a challenge to his players to not only disrupt Barcelona’s usual style of play, but to stop them from playing it altogether – he wants to have the ball and he’s prepared to fight Barça for it.
Barcelona vs Sevilla has never been an easy battle for both of the team and in last meeting in Copa Del Rey final, Barcelona did manage to win 2-0, but it produced three red cards which left Barcelona to play with 10 players and Sevilla to play with nine players. That bitterness may no longer be existing in the Sevilla team, but Barcelona is very much the same team.