Ok! So Sevilla’s new season gets a special, early start tomorrow in the form of the UEFA Super Cup. As with all matchups between these two teams, there are so many storylines that it’s almost tragic that this particular game, which also happens to have a trophy on the line, comes so early in the season that there simply isn’t time to digest it all.
You’ve got the classic Barca-Sevilla stories, your “ex-sevillista faces old team”, which this year has the extra twist of Alves’ opportunity to tie Paolo Maldini’s record four Super Cups (a record he’d owe in part to lifting the trophy with the rojiblancos, so I guess I’ll call that the silver lining if Barca wins tomorrow). That feels like the sort of record that people only care about in the three days leading up to this game each year, but being tied with Maldini for anything is in itself an incredible honor, so it’s definitely not nothing.
And then there’s the usual beginning-of-season transfer stuff: although Barca’s signings won’t get to play with the team for awhile (haha I still can’t believe that sentence doesn’t read “although Barca didn’t sign anyone, because they are banned from signing people”), Sevilla has more than made up for the lack of a $50 million glamor signing with a very active, and very impressive off-season. There’s the question of how much big money departures like Bacca and Vidal will be missed, and then of course there’s also the new arrivals, and all the question marks surrounding players like Kono, MKD, Rami, etc. Unfortunately some of those questions include “will they even play at all tomorrow?”, which leads us to a third set of storylines…
I refer of course to the infectious disease wing of the hospital, currently housing an impressive collection of players who might not or definitely won’t be able to play tomorrow: Rami, Kolo, Nzoni (all with gastroenteritis–ARE YOU KIDDING ME), and Neymar with mumps. There are of course the non-infectious causes for missing the game as well, which will keep Carrico, Pareja, Alba, and Douglas out. Unfortunately I think Sevilla’s losses are much more substantial and will prove more costly tomorrow, but of course I hope I’m wrong!
As long as we’re discussing these medical conditions, as a physician I feel it is my professional duty to discuss Neymar’s case. First of all, mumps is a serious disease. It’s miserable to have, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, I hope Neymar is already on the mend, and hopefully he’s avoided the worst symptoms by receiving early, expert treatment. I’d also like to point out that the club are saying that he received the mumps vaccine, and of course it is well known that as with any immunization, a small number of those vaccinated are still susceptible to the virus. While it is true that in this case the shot did not succeed in preventing the illness, rumors on the internet that the vaccination was also responsible for neurologic complications in childhood, which now cause the Brazilian superstar to fall over in fits of absurd convulsions whenever a defender approaches him on the field are not based in fact whatsoever. Furthermore, there is no scientific evidence that the MMR vaccine (or any other vaccine) has ever caused grown adults to melt down into the kind of childish, whining fits often associated with Neymar when refs don’t call the game the way he wants. Claims on various anti-vaccine websites that the MMR vaccine given to Neymar led to the impaired judgement evinced by his various haircuts are also completely false. It’s all simply not true. Please, vaccinate your children. I assure you, the odds that they’ll become infected despite vaccination are incredibly small. You run an even smaller risk that they’ll turn out like Neymar.
Anyway. Where was I? Oh, yes–the Super Cup! Pre-season form is of course an incredibly unreliable predictor, so the fact that Barca has looked very impressive while Sevilla has looked…not that impressive probably doesn’t mean anything. I think. At any rate that’s what I’ll tell myself as I go to sleep tonight. A Sevilla victory would of course be an enormous upset, but it wouldn’t be impossible, I don’t think. My honest and most confident prediction is that the game will be immensely entertaining. I think we’re going to miss the raft of first choice defenders who aren’t available, and I’m not feeling super confident that we’ll have our arsenal up front sorted enough to keep pace with the holes Messi and Suarez (and Rakitic and Iniesta and…) poke in whatever we cobble together to call a back four. But I have hope! Those pre-season matches don’t mean anything anyway, right?
Vamos Sevilla, and vamos a new season!!!