On Tuesday evening in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, last season’s Champions League winners Barcelona take on Europa League conquerors Sevilla in the UefaSupercup Final. It’s the third time that the competition has been contested by two teams from the Iberian Peninsula.
Barcelona out to break records
The Catalan giants will appear in a record ninth Uefa Supercup Final on Tuesday and have a chance to equal the record achievement of five wins in the competition currently held by Milan. Having lost four of their previous eight finals however, coach Luis Enrique and his all-conquering side will be aware of complacency creeping in. Brazilian full-back Dani Alves (if selected to play) has the chance to equal Milan legend Paolo Maldini’s record of four Supercup Final victories. It has been a quiet summer so far for the Spanish champions, the current transfer embargo put on the club, whilst still allowing Barcelona to buy players, forbids them to be available for selection until January 2016. New club President Josep Maria Bartomeu has used this ruling to the clubs advantage however, agreeing deals with Atletico Madrid for midfielder Arda Turan (€37 million) and Tuesday night’s opponents for attacking full-back Aleix Vidal (€22 million).
Winds of change in Andalucia
Having been involved in all three of theall-Spanish Supercup finals, Sevilla are looking to make amends for their 2-0 defeat to Real Madrid 12 months ago in Cardiff and to emulate the 2-0 victory they inflicted on Barcelona in the same competition nine years ago. It’s already been a frenetic summer in Southern Spain with 10 of the players that were in the squad (including three from the starting XI)that won the Europa League in May having departed to pastures new. Coach Unai Emery has been cautious in the transfer market so far this summer but has acquired highly rated French midfielder Steven N’Zonzi from Stoke City for €10.5 million. Italian Ciro Immobile arrives on loan from Borussia Dortmund to bolster the attack after last season’s top marksman Carlos Bacca departed for AC Milan. Not content with beating them to claim last season’s Europa League title, the club from Andalucia returned to Dnipro to pinch their outstanding Ukrainian midfielder YevhenKonoplyanka who arrives on a free transfer.
Having spent the past two seasons in the shadow of Carlos Bacca, French striker Kevin Gameiro now has the possibility to become the main focal point of the Sevilla attack. Coach Emery has used pre-season to experiment on a new 4-4-2 formation which may also see Immobile playing as a second striker. The unfortunate N’Zonzi will miss the game with gastroenteritis.
Barcelona will be without Neymar on Tuesday night, the Brazilian superstar is suffering from mumps. That will almost certainly mean a starting berth for Pedro,as speculation continues over a possible move for him to Manchester United. It seems the Spanish striker will remain in Catalonia for the time being but a switch to the English Premier League looks likely. Left-back Jordi Alba picked up an injury in last week’s Gamper Trophy success over Roma and he will probably be replaced by Jérémy Mathieu. Former Sevilla stars Dani Alves and Ivan Rakitić could also start against their old club. Follow our “football betting experts” for the best tips ahead of the game.
Probable Starting Line-Ups
Barcelona (4-3-3) terStegen; Mathieu, Mascherano, Piqué, Dani Alves; Iniesta, Busquets, Rakitić; Pedro, Suárez, Messi
Sevilla (4-4-2) Sergio Rico; Trémoulinas, Kolodziejczak, Carriço, Mariano; Konoplyanka, Banega, Iborra, Krohn-Dehli; Immobile, Gameiro
Head to Head
Barcelona will start the match as clear favourites. In 152 meetings in all competitions they have 80 wins to Sevilla’s 38 and there has been 34 draws. Domestically last season, Barcelona dismantledSevilla 5-1 at the Camp Nou with the reverse fixture ending in a 2-2 draw. The Catalan’s have not lost to Tuesday night’s opponents in their last 11 meetings in all competitions – Sevilla’s last victory was back in January 2010 in the Copa Del Rey. Unai Emery has an awful record against Barcelona having not won in 19 previous meetings, something our “football tipsters” will have noted.
*Barcelona 1.33 Draw 5.25 Sevilla 8.00
*after 90 minutes
Odds courtesy of Bet365
By Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)