Spanish Super Cup 2018: Barcelona 2-1 Sevilla match report
Barcelona had to come back from a goal down to win the Spanish Super Cup in Tangier on Sunday night with goals from Pique and Dembele in either half.
Sevilla 1-2 Barcelona: match report
It was the first Super Cup on foreign soil but it was an all too familiar result for Barcelona against Sevilla. They have beaten their opponents in Tangier 10 times in a row now and three times in the Spanish Super Cup in three attempts.
There was no place in the starting eleven for new midfielder Arturo Vidal but Ousmane Dembele started in what looked like a vote of confidence from the coach, Ernesto Valverde, with rumours swirling about the World Cup winner's future.
Sevilla had their new keeper Thomas Vaclik starting for his debut along with Sergi Gomez and no place for Aleix Vidal or newest addition, Andre Silva, who did make the bench despite just signing on Saturday night.
Sevilla, starting a new era under Pablo Machín, were off the mark first with a goal from Pablo Sarabia. He slotted home after Sevilla cut through Barcelona with relative ease. It would take a few looks on VAR before the ref was convinced but he gave the okay and Sevilla lead after nine minutes.
Their lead was abolished after 42 minutes when Gerard Pique turned a Lionel Messi free-kick home that ricocheted off the post and fell kindly to the defender. With just three minutes to go in the half, Barcelona were level.
After wreslting complete control of the game off Machín's side late on in that first half, Barcelona started the second half in the same manner. They had their reward for their dominance after 78 minutes when Ousmane Dembele smashed home a shot off the crossbar that would prove to be the winner.
The two sides were tiring at that point in the mid-summer Tangier heat and with little running in their legs as of yet this season. It looked like the game was headed for penalties when Aleix Vidal, who came on as a second half substitute, was pulled down by Ter Stegen in injury time.
Wissam Ben Yedder took the spot kick and saw it saved by the German as he rectified his clumsy collision with his former teammate.
And after that, there would be no time for late drama as Lionel Messi made his way up the steps as Barcelona's official captain for the first time and collected the trophy on behalf of his teammates. Valverde will be happy with that fact, but both he and Machin will have seen plenty to work on with LaLiga just around the corner.
Sevilla vs Barcelona live online: as it happened
Sevilla vs Barcelona live online: match preview
Barcelona will aim to claw another title back from Real Madrid when they take on Sevilla in the Spanish Super Cup in Tangiers on Sunday evening in the first-ever edition of the competition to be played in a single game at a neutral venue, the Stade Ibn Batouta.
Ernesto Valverde’s side completed the domestic double last season, regaining the Liga title after Real’s success the previous season and going on to hammer Sevilla 5-0 in the Copa del Rey final at the Metropolitano.
But despite their glut of trophies over the last decade, Barça have been caught out in the traditional curtain raiser twice in the last three years, losing 5-1 to Athletic over two legs in 2015 and Real last summer by the same scoreline.
For new Sevilla boss Pablo Machín, making the step up to the Liga elite after his eye-catching stewardship of Girona, avoiding a repeat of the Copa final will be foremost in his mind. The last time the two sides met in the Super Cup was in 2016, with Barça completing a 5-0 rout.
While Sevilla are seeking a first Super Cup triumph since their only victory in the competition in 2007, Barça will make it 13 titles if they emerge as winners in Morocco: no side has won more than the Camp Nou outfit and after a pre-season tour of the US that reaped a draw and two defeats, Valverde will be keen to ensure his side start off on the right foot.
A much-changed Sevilla side will step on to the turf at the Stade Ibn Batouta under the tutelage of a new manager who faces the task of restoring the club’s fortunes after a rollercoaster 2017-18 campaign that witnessed three changes of coach with current sporting director Joaquín Caparrós stepping in towards the end of the season to prevent missing out on a European berth.
Sevilla sneaked into seventh ahead of Getafe to ensure a place in the Europa League qualifying rounds and that has at least handed Machín a chance to dip his toe into competitive water ahead of Sunday’s game.
Újpest were seen off comfortably in the second qualifying round but the Sevilla boss will have half an eye on the return leg away against Zalgiris Vilnius next week with his side holding a slender 1-0 advantage over the Lithuanian side. Defeat in the Super Cup will be no disaster – even less so after the RFEF took the contentious decision to classify the game as a friendly – but failure to guide Sevilla into the playoff round of the Europa League certainly will be.
The Sánchez Pizjuán board were quietly efficient in the transfer market, reacting to the departures of Clément Lenglen and Joaquín Correa by adding a blend of youth and experience. Ibrahim Amadou may get a chance to stake his claim to Steven N’Zonzi’s position in Tangiers with the France international having made it clear he intends to leave but it may be too early for travelling fans to get a first glimpse of André Silva after the Milan striker joined on loan on Saturday.
Aleix Vidal may get a chance to run out against his former side after re-joining Sevilla from Barcelona with Lenglet potentially lining up on the opposing side after his switch to Camp Nou.
Valverde’s first season in Catalonia was more than satisfactory even if regaining the domestic ascendancy was soured a little by Roma’s extraordinary comeback in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
That will be the veteran schemer’s main priority this season, whatever the party line that emits from the Camp Nou press room. And the Barça boss’ paymasters have not been shy about providing him with a squad to battle on three fronts.
After last summer’s splash on Ousmane Dembélé was topped up with a huge outlay on Philippe Coutinho in January, Barça could have been forgiven for avoiding further open-wallet surgery during this window.
Instead, 125 million euros has been lavished on Arthur, Malcom, Lenglet and Arturo Vidal, handing Valverde arguably the finest-stocked midfield in world football. The legacy of Andrés Iniesta will be difficult to replace but along with loan returnee Rafinha the Barça coach will have more strings to his tactical bow than any of his peers in LaLiga. Such is Barça’s wealth of talent across the front two lines that a loan move for Dembélé, who cost the club almost the same amount when he joined from Dortmund, has been mooted.
But as in every season since he emerged from the youth ranks, so much of Barça’s ambition will rest firmly on the shoulders of Leo Messi, recently installed as captain.
The Argentinean will overtake Iniesta as the most successful player in the club’s history with a win in Tangiers and as the competition’s all-time top scorer with 13 in 17 appearances Sevilla can expect to have their hands full. If Messi could pick an opponent to face every week the Andalusian side would top the list; he has banged in 31 goals in 33 games against Machín’s side, more than any other opponent in Spain or Europe.
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