Barcelona can claim its first silverware of the season when it takes a 2-0 lead over Sevilla into the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup at the Camp Nou on Wednesday. The Catalans were given a strong test in their first official match of the campaign at the Sanchez Pijuan against a side brimming with intensity under new coach Jorge Sampaoli. But second-half goals from Luis Suarez and Munir El Haddadi ensure that Luis Enrique’s side go into the second as overwhelming favorites to lift the trophy for a seventh time in 12 seasons.
Still, the Barcelona coach is adamant that all is still to play for and that his players won’t be taking their foot off the gas.
"We plan for the game the same as ever,” he said. “The idea is to win, be better than Sevilla and to do that by playing better football. As far as motivation is concerned, there's nothing for me to say because the players know very well that after 90 minutes of play tomorrow we can win a title.
"Things could get difficult at any time. Although our opposition are two goals down, it's a difference that they can make up so we need to make sure they don't. We should hit Sevilla first and try to generate more goalscoring chances and try to win the game."
The first leg contained plenty of positives for Enrique, in addition to the result. Chief among those was the performance and goal of substitute Munir. While Barcelona has been desperately searching in vain for a striker to back up the dominant front three of Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi, Munir, still aged just 20, showed that he could yet be the solution.
Another young player eager to make his mark, Denis Suarez also made a positive impression off the bench after replacing the injured Andres Iniesta in the first half. With Iniesta now ruled out for two weeks, Suarez, who spent a season on loan at Sevilla two years ago, could be given a further opportunity in the return leg on Wednesday. Without Neymar, who is continuing his quest for Olympic gold with Brazil, Arda Turan, who cleverly assisted Suarez for the opening goal on Sunday, should also keep his place in the lineup.
The future for goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, though, remains unclear. The Chilean stopper started the first leg after an injury for regular cup goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, but is thought to be close to sealing a transfer to Manchester City. Intriguingly, it has been reported that the man Barcelona is targeting to replace Bravo at the Camp Nou, Valencia’s Diego Alves, is also wanted by Sevilla.
Already there has been much change at Sevilla after former Chile coach Sampaoli took charge following Unai Emry’s departure to Paris Saint-Germain. Indeed, eight of the 14 players who featured for last season’s Copa del Rey winners in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup only arrived at the club this summer. But after an extra-time defeat in a thrilling European Super Cup against Real Madrid last week, Sampaoli is still looking to get a first competitive win under his belt ahead of the start of the Primera Division season this weekend.
Prediction: Don’t expect Sevilla to go down lightly, and Sampaoli’s intense style should ensure the second leg is still an entertaining contest. However, Barcelona should ultimately have too much in hand.
Predicted score: Barcelona 2-1 Sevilla
Kickoff Time: 5 p.m. EDT
TV Channel: ESPN2, ESPN Deportes
Live Stream: Watch ESPN