New Barcelona captain Andrés Iniesta says that Barcelona have their sights firmly set on lifting six trophies in 2015, but won’t be taking anything for granted against a depleted Sevilla side in Tuesday’s UEFA European Super Cup. After claiming a treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League last season, Barcelona are now attempting to match the achievements of Pep Guardiola’s 2009 vintage by taking home both European and Spanish Super Cups before lifting the Club World Cup at the end of the year.
The quest this season begins with a meeting with last season’s Europa League winners Sevilla in Tbilisi, Georgia. And Iniesta, who has replaced the departed Xavi as skipper for this campaign, has confirmed that completing a clean sweep of trophies provides a powerful motivation going into the contest, although urged against any complacency.
“When you win the treble it gives you an idea of what you can go on and win,” he said, according to Spanish daily AS. “We know it won’t be easy. Tomorrow we will take the first step. We know our opponents quite well and they have a great coach. You have to approach the game knowing it will be tough. We are excited at the possibility of winning six titles but for the moment we’re thinking about tomorrow’s game.”
With Barcelona still banned from registering new players until January, there will be now new faces on show for Luis Enrique’s side at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena. While new signings Arda Turan and former Sevilla wide man Aleix Vidal have made the trip to Tbilisi, neither can take part. Also unable to feature, either on Tuesday or in the upcoming two-legged Spanish Super Cup against Athletic Bilbao, will be Neymar. The Brazilian, who last season scored 39 goals as part of the devastating three-pronged attack alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez , has contracted mumps.
Barcelona’s fitness concerns are not a patch on those of their opponents, however. A bout of gastroenteritis has struck down several players, ruling out new midfielder Steven N’Zonzi and putting the position of fellow summer arrival Adil Rami as well as Timothée Kolodziejczak in doubt. With Daniel Carriço and Nico Pareja definitely out through injury, Sevilla’s defensive options will be particularly stretched.
Coach Unai Emery has never tasted victory over Barcelona in 19 games, but his side did produce a thrilling fight back to claim a 2-2 draw when the sides last met, in April. Since then Emery has had to watch as last season’s top scorer Carlos Bacca was among a host of first-team players to depart, although the likes of Italy international striker Ciro Immobile has arrived as replacements. And Emery insists that Sevilla are determined to cause an upset on Tuesday, regardless of the number of players he may have missing.
“It's another opportunity we want to make the most of,” he said, reports UEFA.com. “We're playing major rivals who are favorites but we have many things in our favor and we're working on our strengths to overcome Barcelona. We want to take advantage of this moment -- we're at the level where we want to be, at the very top.
“I have a vision for this match but whether it comes to pass is a different matter. Either way, our performance has to be first-class. The players we put out on the pitch cannot be an excuse, they have to be solutions. The injuries will have an impact but overall you will see what Barcelona can do and you will see what Sevilla can do. We may not be 100 percent but we'll be close.”
Kickoff time: 2:45 p.m. EDT
TV channel: Fox Sports 1, ESPN Deportes