Having won the second treble of major titles in their history last season, Barcelona have a chance to vie for even more trophies this term, and it is La Liga rivals Sevilla that stand between them and the UEFA Super Cup. Los Rojiblancos arrive in Tbilisi with a much-changed side to that which secure the Europa League title last term, but we know better than to write them off beforehand.
Many were surprised to see the Catalans elect former player Luis Enrique as the man to replace Tata Martino after what was a very disappointing season, but even if he experienced some problems early on, the talented coach went on to do even better than expected. The former Celta Vigo boss led Barcelona to Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey trophies, with attacking trident of Messi, Suarez and Neymar playing a key role in those successes. The Brazilian attacker will not be making an appearance at the UEFA Super Cup as he has been sidelined with mumps, meaning that wantaway winger Pedro Rodriguez is almost certain to start. New signings Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal will not be eligible before January next year, while the likes of Xavi, Martin Montoya, Ibrahim Afellay and Gerard Deulofeu have all departed. With Jordi Alba sidelined through injury, Jeremy Mathieu is tipped to start at left-back, whereas Marc-Andre ter Stegen will get another opportunity to claim a major trophy as Claudio Bravo continues to be used exclusively in La Liga. The good news is that Adriano Correia has recovered from injury and is available for selection, but he is highly unlikely to start in Tbilisi.
Sevilla have quickly become the most successful club ever in Europa League (UEFA Cup), having won no fewer than four titles in said competition since 2006. After defending their first ever EL title, los Rojiblancos did it again by defeating Dnipro last term, and the time has come for them to start proving their worth in the Champions League as well. The victory in Warsaw saw the La Liga giants qualify for this year’s Champions League, and the UEFA Super Cup match against Barcelona will serve as a good opportunity for Unai Emery’s men to prove they can mix it up with the best of them in Europe. The problem is that the current squad is in the process of rebuilding, with the likes of Stephane M’Bia, Carlos Bacca and few more squad players leaving in the summer. Nevertheless, Sevilla transfer guru Monchi has once again done great to secure the signatures of some very good players without spending too much money, and we should see Adil Rami, Michael Krohn-Dehli and Yevhen Konoplyanka all start against Barca. Steven N’Zonzi and Timothee Kolodziejczak look set to miss out through a virus, whilst Nico Pareja and Daniel Carrico are definitely out.
Barcelona are clearly in better position having kept almost entire team together from last season, and they should be able to claim the first trophy of the season. However, we definitely expect Sevilla to adopt a positive approach and the attacking potential they have at their disposal, both teams to score bet should be considered.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 2/3