La Liga champions Barcelona and Europa League champions Sevilla lock horns at the Vicente Calderon for this weekend’s Copa del Rey final. The winner might not be so clear-cut given how the two sides have taken points off each other in the league this season. However, Barca will be favourites as the defending champions coupled with the frequency in which they run deep in the competition.
Barcelona have Claudio Bravo (calf) and Sandro Ramirez (quadriceps) on the treatment table ahead of Sunday’s final, while opponents Sevilla could be without Benoît Trémoulinas (meniscus), José Antonio Reyes, Michael Krohn-Dehli (kneecap fracture) and Marco Andreolli (Achilles). It will be a tough task for a weakened Sevilla side to keep Barca’s potent attacking trio (Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar) quiet, but they have managed to get one over the Catalans in the league this season.
Sevilla enjoyed a 2-1 win against Barcelona at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium back in October and had proven to be a thorn in the side in their last few head-to-head encounters. Los Rojiblancos have won one, drawn one and lost one in their previous three league meetings with Luis Enrique’s men, but their injury list gives manager Unai Emery a selection headache.
Sevilla are forced into making some changes. They could opt for David Soria, Mariano, Timothée Kolodziejczak, Daniel Carriço, Sergio Escudero, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Sebastián Cristóforo, Coke, Ever Banega, Vitolo and Kevin Gameiro in the starting eleven (4-2-3-1). Barcelona’s lineup won’t likely feature any surprises. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Dani Alves, Gerard Piqué, Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar should start in a 4-3-3.
Preparation time might be a factor as Sevilla have only been afforded three training days between the Europa League final and Copa Del Rey final while Barcelona have had the entire week to prepare for the clash at the Vicente Calderon. As a result, Barcelona have an advantage going into the cup final which is through no real fault of Sevilla’s, so the underdogs are perhaps within their rights to cry foul. A gruelling Europa League final and subsequent travel back from Switzerland is sure to affect the side, but they are still no slouches as shown from their midweek triumph.
Sevilla have won the Copa Del Rey twice in the last 10 years, but this season only Celta Vigo posed the most threat to their hopes of making the final. They had it relatively easy this season but their opponents have had more of a contest to make it this far. Barcelona consistently go deep in the Copa Del Rey, having made the final in four of their last five seasons, and have dispatched of the likes of Espanyol, Athletic Bilbao and Valencia to be within 90 minutes of retaining their crown.
As defending champions, the Catalans are favourites to come out on top, while an injury-hit Sevilla potentially suffering from a European hangover will need a big performance to stop Barcelona at the Vicente Calderon.