Big Match Focus: Sevilla v Barcelona

Barcelona

Sevilla have not won in seven matches and will no doubt be underdogs as they take on a Barcelona outfit looking to win its first piece of silverware under manager Ernesto Valverde in Saturday’s Copa del Rey final.

Copa del Rey
Date: 21 April 2018
Final
Kick-off: 21H30 local time/03H30 HKT
Venue: Estadio Wanda Metropolitano

Referee: Jesus Gil Manzano
Assistants: Nevada Rodriguez, Yuste Jimenez
Fourth official: Del Cerro Grande

Head-to-head summary

TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Sevilla 55 11 11 33
Barcelona 55 33 11 11

Previous encounter

Sevilla 2-2 Barcelona (31 March 2018) La Liga

Sevilla scorers: F. Vázquez (36′), L. Muriel (50′)
Barca scorers: L. Suárez (88′), L. Messi (89′)

Players to watch

Sevilla have not win in seven matches in all competitions and confidence levels are shaken as a result. With Blaugrana expected to hog the majority of possession while creating more chances, goalkeeper David Soria could come to the fore for Los Rojiblancos. Having started the last five matches in all competitions including a clean-sheet against Deportivo La Coruna in his last outing, the 25-year-old will have to be at his best to give Sevilla a chance.

On such a big occasion and no doubt still ruminating at his under-performance for Barca in the recent UEFA Champions League exit to Roma, Lionel Messi will likely come out all guns firing on Saturday evening in Madrid. The 30-year-old superstar has 39 goals in 49 appearances in all competitions in 2017/18 and will want to add to his three strikes in the cup competition. The Argentina genius is expected to have a big say on the outcome of the encounter.

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Team form and manager quotes

Since beating Manchester United in the Champions League on 13 March, Sevilla have not won in seven matches which includes an exit from the UCL at the hands of Bayern Munich.

In addition, a heavy 4-0 defeat to Celta Vigo on 7 April means the confidence levels in the camp are not as high as they would have hoped they ought to be for a major final.

Nonetheless, manager Vincenzo Montella believes beating the Spanish giants is possible if you can stop Lionel Messi. He said: “I also think that Messi is an alien. I hope he will be that high tomorrow instead of on the Earth. We have to try to avoid him receiving the ball.

“We’ve seen that it is possible to win against Barcelona, but for this to happen we have to be focused throughout the whole game and not lose concentration at any moment.”

Despite La Liga virtually already being sealed in terms of the title, Barca come into the final with their egos bruised following the shock exit in the UEFA Champions League at the hands of Roma.

As such, boss Ernesto Valverde takes the view that winning the competition would be a positive way to forget the defeat to the Italians.

He told told reporters: “To win the Copa del Rey would be a good way to put the Champions League slip-up behind us. To win with Barcelona is an obligation, the Champions League, La Liga, the cup and this is always the way with big teams.

“The pressure is the same with other finals, you have not won the title as you still have to play the final and there are two teams involved. We maybe the favourites but you still have to play.”

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Team news

Barca midfielder Ivan Rakitic is set to make his return from a broken finger after missing the last three matches for Blaugrana.

Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba are all expected to play after being rested against Celta Vigo.

Sevilla have few injury concerns with defender Simon Kjaer expected to return though Sebastien Corchia is out due to a groin problem.

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