So here we go again… our final match before La Liga commences, and our third and final ‘Final’ match in the space of a week! Phew!
Under normal circumstances it would be foolish to rule out a 2nd leg comeback when only two goals behind, but as we all know, tonight’s game is NOT under normal circumstances. For a start we do not wish to be exhausted and/or the walking wounded (more than we already are) before we have even kicked a La Liga ball on Saturday. Secondly, the chances of coming back from 0-2 against a settled and trophy hungry FC Barcelona in the Nou Camp are about as slim as they can get for any team in the world, never mind an injury stricken and newly assembled one like ours.
With these circumstances in mind, ‘rotation’ is undoubtedly going to be the buzz word for all of a Sevilla FC persuasion tonight. Sampaoli has already been quoted in the press conference that he would “modify some things” so we can expect to see some key players rested (I would imagine Vitolo, Mariano, Vasquez etc. will sit this one out), with some others who didn’t feature in the last two games getting a start (Ben Yedder, Ganso, Konoplyanka, Sarabia etc.).
Word from some sources suggest that youth players David Carmona and Diego Gonzalez might get a start. I am not too sure how confident I am about that if Sampaoli goes ahead with youth players, as we may as well just have the trophy presentation and forget all about the game in that case. Barcelona are not likely to rotate too much, and will be happy to entertain their home crowd and kick their season off with a domestic trophy after a stylish win.
With Emery it was hard enough to predict what he was going to do on any given match day, but now we have a new guy to try and figure out! So trying to predict our starting XI and formation, never mind what will happen in the game, is proving to be a difficult challenge. I have decided to imagine the following 4 possible scenarios:
Best case scenario: A gallant performance, but ultimately too little too late with regards to turning the tie around, with new guys like Ben Yedder and Ganso getting some valuable minutes and giving us some optimism that things aren’t that bad after all. 90 minutes similar to the Copa del Rey Final in May would be ideal, with a confidence boosting goal from one of our new strikers being an added bonus.
Worst case scenario: Shooting practice! Barcelona turn on the style, run us ragged and score 7 or 8 goals, eclipsing their drubbing of Valencia last season, meanwhile consigning us to the new laughing stock of Spanish football. To twist the knife even further, we lose more players to injury for the big game on Saturday.
Improbable scenario: We give it our best shot with a highly rotated team, Barcelona take us for granted, Konoplyanka summons the spirit of Ever Banega, pulls all the strings and we score three goals (Ben Yedder hat trick) without reply, subsequently lifting aloft the Super Cup trophy, giving us a massive boost going into the league season leaving Sevillistas everywhere celebrating long into the night!
Probable scenario: We rotate heavily and lose the game without much of a fight, treating it as one last glorified pre-season friendly before the real business begins. Some valuable playing time for some fringe players looking to improve fitness and impress Sampaoli (not to mention us at home) and a return trip to Seville tomorrow with our heads held high. Barcelona also play in 2nd gear, knowing that their lead is not in danger, keeping their own players fresh for the season ahead, whilst scoring a few goals for the TV cameras along the way.
With this in mind, I am going for a score prediction of: FCB 3 Sevilla 1 (5-1 agg)
So, what begun last Tuesday as a series of highly anticipated games that promised so much, will probably end as a series of games that we will all be glad to see the back of tomorrow morning.
As always, regardless of the outcome ¡VAMOS MI SEVILLA!
N.B: local kick off time is 23:00!!! Crazy!
Will you be watching tonight, and if so where from? What are your predictions, expectations, hopes and fears for the game?
I’m looking forward to your insightful comments below. And if you’re anxious for more content, we’ve been firing on all cylinders over here. Make sure you don’t miss Jeremy’s excellent transfer season recap.