Tblisi (Georgia): Two Spanish football sides, FC Barcelona and Sevilla will go head to head here on Tuesday night to win the first title of the new season, the European Supercup.
European Champions League winners Barcelona will be favourites against Sevilla, who won last season’s Europa League. But Barcelona will have to be wary of a side that is aiming to forget a disappointing display from last season when they were comfortably beaten by Real Madrid, reports Xinhua.
The European Supercup marks the start of a busy week for Barcelona, who face Athletic Club Bilbao in the first leg of the Spanish Supercup on Friday. And the Catalans view Tuesday as the next step in their aim to match the incredible achievements from 2009 when the side, which was then coached by Pep Guardiola won all six titles (Spanish League, Cup, Champions League, Spanish and European Supercups and World Club Championship) that it is possible to win over a 12 month period.
Although Argentine star striker Lionel Messi is back, fit and looking lean and hungrier than ever, Barcelona will be without Brazilian striker Neymar, who will be out for the next 10 days with an attack of mumps. Defender Jordi Alba is out with a muscle injury that he picked up in pre-season.
Meanwhile, Barcelona chief coach Luis Enrique will have to decide whether Ter Stegen or Claudio Bravo will get the nod in goal and striker Pedro Rodriguez will probably replace Neymar in Tiblisi, despite continued links with a move to Manchester United.
He will also have to work on his defence after a pre-season in which Barcelona shipped too many goals, although the return of inspirational Argentine Javier Mascherano could help remedy that.
Sevilla go into the game with the club looking to sign a striker to replace the departed Carlos Bacca after last season’s top scorer moved to AC Milan.
Their coach Unai Emery also has defensive problems with Nico Parejo out of action as well as Daniel Carrico and their last preparation match: a 1-1 draw in Athens showed they are still some way off their best, although should Jose Antonio Reyes have a good night in Georgia, that could all change.