Last time these two sides met, we witnessed an incredible game with a total of nine goals scored, and with Sevilla desperate to put an end to a dismal run and Barcelona eager to prove they can cope without Messi and Iniesta, another enthralling encounter appears on the horizon.
With one of world’s leading transfer gurus Monchi in charge of recruiting and offloading players at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Sevilla coaches have had the courtesy of getting some high-quality players for bargain prices. All they had to do is integrate them into the squad and keep the results respectable and Unai Emery has done a near-perfect job in recent years. However, following yet another busy summer in Andalucia, the talented coach has experienced plenty of problems during the squad rebuilding process. In all fairness, numerous injuries to star players certainly did not help, especially when we know that Sevilla have big ambitions in both La Liga and the Champions League. And while the very good performance in the 5-4 UEFA Super Cup loss to Barcelona hinted los Rojiblancos might be able to hit the ground running early on, things did not exactly go according to plan since, with Sevilla losing three of last four matches in all competitions. Unai Emery’s charges were especially disappointing in the midweek defeat to Juventus and it appears that the lack of confidence is seriously affecting their performances. The injury list does not make for pretty reading seeing that Fernando Llorente and Vitolo face fitness tests and Nico Pareja, Gael Kakuta, Ever Banega, Daniel Carrico, Adil Rami, Beto and Sergio Escudero are definitely out.
Considering that Barcelona are top of their Champions League group and ahead of main title rivals in Spanish La Liga, one could think that Luis Enrique’s side have been in fine form during the opening exchanges. However, the reality is that the Catalans are not playing to their potential at the moment, even if the coach was certainly happy to see his side grind out several wins since the season started. Just like Sevilla, Barcelona, too, have fallen victim to injury curse and they currently have two star players sidelined in Leo Messi and Andres Iniesta, but that has created space for La Masia graduates Sergi Roberto, Munir El Haddadi and Sandro Ramirez to prove what they are capable of. In spite of the heavy loss to Celta Vigo, Barcelona are definitely in better mood than their next opponents, with hard-fought wins over Las Palmas and Bayer Leverkusen helping the players restore some of the lost confidence. The Catalans will be buoyed by the return of first choice keeper Claudio Bravo and with Jordi Alba having also resumed full training, they might just have enough left in the tank to defeat out-of-sorts Sevilla at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
The reality is that neither of the UEFA Super Cup participants are on top of their game at the moment, but it would appears as though Sevilla are more affected by the numerous missings and the lack of confidence is likely to prevent los Rojiblancos from producing one of their trademark in-your-face performances at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Therefore, we are backing Barca to record another hard-fought triumph.
Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 10/11
Bookmaker: William Hill