The best preseason sets a squad up to hit the ground running in domestic league play. New players and new schemes built around them are given a chance to play out against varying levels of competitiveness. Look at an aspirational club like Valencia, and you’ll see Feyenoords and Fiorentinas in their preseason, providing an ample range of challenges.
Sevilla had a run through a solid set of opponents, including some upper-mid Bundesliga clubs and a familiar LaLiga foe in Granada, but there was hardly anything to prepare the team for the bright lights of the UEFA Supercup against Real Madrid. Now that we have our feet wet in high(er) stakes preseason competition, it will be exciting to see how the team responds in the first leg of the Spanish Supercup when Barcelona comes to visit the RSP.
Sampaoli and team leadership have had several days to recover from the deflating …deflation against Real Madrid at 90+3′ and 119′ to set their sights on the arguably more difficult task of defeating Barcelona over two legs. The chance to rotate players between the ida y vuelta will be helpful to management in preparation for another season fighting on three fronts, but that vuelta comes three little days away from the start of LaLiga. The opportunity to win a trophy is enticing to both sides, but one has to have in the back of their mind that LaLiga is where these teams are pointing for success. I don’t want to suggest that either team will sacrifice potential hardware to preserve their squad for the first of 32 LaLiga fixtures, but imagine either side with a 3-4 goal lead in leg two and you can pretty well predict how serious it will feel with our domestic competition looming.
Two new players to watch out for today are Gabriel Mercado and Ganso, who were included in the UEFA Supercup roster last week but did not see the field due to managerial discretion and injury. Barcelona are without Neymar, Jordi Alba, Arda, and our boy Aleix Vidal but still feature former Sevilla players Rakitic, Alves, and Adriano as well as their usual best in the world people. Munir has had a rather sprightly preseason, too, which has to please Luis Enrique. For all their trophy winning and general monetary wealth, Barcelona haven’t splashed much into this summer’s market. They’ve reacquired Denis Suárez, bought André Gomes, Digne, and Umtiti. None of these four are in Sevilla today, either.
Regardless of the stakes or visitors, the real joy of today will be the team’s return to a competitive match in the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. The stadium will be rocking today like it hasn’t in months. Are you going to the match today? Post up some pics for us to see!
Lineup just announced:
Rico, Mariano, Mercado, Rami, Escudero, Kranevitter, N’Zonzi, Vitolo, Vázquez, Kiyotake, Vietto