Sunday sees the 114th Spanish Cup Final take place at Atletico Madrid’s Vicente Calderon Stadium. Defending champions Barcelona take on Sevilla, who are fresh from winning their third consecutive Europa League title on Wednesday.
BARCELONA LOOKING FOR VICTORY NUMBER 28
Having secured the Spanish league title last weekend, Barcelona now look to add the Copa del Rey trophy to their collection for the 28th time. Only bitter rivals Real Madrid has a better record in the competition with 29 wins and the Catalan giants will be anxious to hunt that down as quickly as possible. In last season’s final (which was held at the Camp Nou) Luis Enrique’s team brushed aside Athletic Bilbao 3-1 and they will be confident of seeing off the challenge from Southern Spain on Sunday.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) 18 maggio 2016
SEVILLA ON CLOUD-NINE AFTER EURO TRIUMPH
After a remarkable second-half comeback in Basel against Liverpool on Wednesday night saw Sevilla crowned Europa League kings for a record third consecutive time, coach Unai Emery now has to get his squad prepared for Sunday’s cup final in the Spanish capital. This will be the club’s eighth Kings Cup Final appearance, having won five of their previous seven. Their most recent victory came in 2010 when they beat Atletico Madrid 2-0 at the Camp Nou.
ROAD TO THE FINAL
The early rounds:
Both teams entered the competition at the round of 32 and both had easy ties to start their journey to Madrid; Barcelona overcoming second division side Villanovense 6-1 on aggregate over two-legs, Sevilla running out 5-0 aggregate winners over third division outfit UD Logrones. Things then got a little harder (on paper anyway) for the blaugrana, who faced Espanyol in a derby match which saw them cruise to another 6-1 aggregate win. The same applied to Emery’s team who faced city rivals Real Betis in the last 1. Their overall result bettered that of Sunday’s opponents after disposing of them with the minimum of fuss in a 6-0 aggregate triumph.
Quarter and Semi Finals:
As we entered the last eight stage, Barcelona were drawn against Athletic Bilbao in a repeat of last season’s final whilst Sevilla were paired against the only second division side left in the competition, Mirandes. Inspired by Brazilian superstar Neymar(quoted at *4.50 on the best sports betting sites to open the scoring on Sunday) Barcelona won both legs to run out 5-2 aggregate winners. Sevilla has absolutely no problems overcoming their opposition ending up comfortable 5-0 aggregate winners. Next up was the semi-finals where Barcelona faced Valencia whilst Sevilla had a tricky tie with in-form Celta Vigo. The defending champions simply annihilated their opponents at the Camp Nou, running out 7-0 winners on the night making the second-leg at the Mestalla almost irrelevant; Valencia restoring some pride with a 1-1 draw. What looked tough on paper for Sevilla, also turned into a stroll in the park however, as they won their home leg 4-0 against Celta; the 2-2 draw in the return match proving academic once again.
Barcelona have trained with a fully-fit squad this week after their title celebrations last weekend. Defender Javier Mascherano was taken off against Granada with what at the time seemed a potentially serious thigh injury, but local media reports say that the issue wasn’t serious and he should be fine to face Sevilla. German goalkeeper Marc Andre ter-Stegen will get the vote over Claudio Bravo as Enrique continues to switch the two players between league and cup games. Arda Turan missed training earlier this week for personal reasons but he will be named in the travelling party.
It remains to be seen what Wednesday evening’s Europa League triumph has taken out of Unai Emery’s Sevilla squad. The coach has granted the players a little rest before preparations begin for Sunday’s final. Ace French marksman Kevin Gameiro (*3.20 on the best football betting sites to be an anytime scorer in the final) will be one of the key players once again for Sevilla, as will two goal hero in the Europa League Final, Coke. The club will also play in a special commemorative shirt on Sunday.
— Pasión Fútbol (@PasionFutbolFC) 9 maggio 2016
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Barcelona (4-3-3) ter Stegen; Alba, Mascherano, Pique, Dani Alves; Iniesta, Busquets, Rakitic; Messi, Suarez, Neymar
Sevilla (4-2-3-1) Soria; Escudero, Carrico, Rami, Mariano; Krychowiak, N’Zonzi; Vitolo, Banega, Coke; Gameiro
HEAD TO HEAD
Sevilla have won just one of their last 10 matches against Barcelona in all competitions and that was this season’s league meeting between the two at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. Barcelona has seven wins and there have been two drawn games however, one of these was this season’s Supercup which Enrique’s team went onto win in extra-time. The underdogs will take heart from the fact that the last time the two met in the Copa del Rey it was they who triumphed 2-1 at the Camp Nou back in January 2010.
*MATCH BETTING (90 minutes only)
Barcelona 1.28 Draw 6.00 Sevilla 8.00
*odds courtesy of bet365
Steve Mitchell @barafundler