Competition
  • Champions League

Sevilla, Barça looking to end season with distinction

The day has arrived; Spanish football’s annual big fiesta. By chance, the Copa del Rey showpiece will be staged again after the Liga has concluded. Those years of the final being played between Liga match days was a disaster, in my view. I prefer the cup final like this, as an end-of-term party, and everybody on their summer holiday afterwards. Of course, in the case of this year, we still have the Champions League final in six days’ time, the end of the European season that in this instance celebrates two Spanish sides, both Madrid-based teams, distinguishing the country a little more on the international stage. But today is the national fiesta of football, to be played between two formidable sides. A game full of sparkle and magic.

Barcelona’s front three is awe-inspiring: the Ballon d’Or, the Golden Boot and the Bronze Ball. A colossus. Sevilla have nothing similar, but they do have a fantastic team, expertly worked by Unai Emery, who is an exceptional manager. Since he emerged at the helm of Lorca, his teams have always stood out for their solidity and efficiency. Sevilla play an intense and battling style, but sharp up front (Kevin Gameiro is a devil to play against) and without thumbing their nose at good football. We witnessed Vitolo, and above all Ever Banega, pull Liverpool to pieces through pure talent. Banega is a curious case: only Emery has ever been able to bring out the best in the Argentinean.

This Sevilla side has excelled itself through the inspiration of the club’s centennial, accompanied by that glorious anthem. Since the club celebrated its 100th birthday it has never been the same, but considerably better. Barcelona, on the other hand, are becoming the club of the 21st century, with Leo Messi on centre stage. He has changed his style of play and those 91 goals in a calendar year now appear unrepeatable, but he has broadened his horizons and it is still a pleasure to watch him. Both Sevilla and Barça are now going for a pass with distinction at the conclusion of the campaign. How much energy remains in each side to keep battling after already achieving winning results will determine today’s result.