Preview: The last final

Most of yrdy those from the Barça fan-base saw the last few games of the season as ‘finals’. Games that cannot be lost by any means, at least not through the lack of effort. The 22nd of May will see the blaugrana play their last final of the season, but this time an actual final, and as much as we would’ve liked another to take place in Milan on the 28th, winning the Copa del Rey alongside the Liga title would be no failure.

That said, the opponents aren’t here to hand the trophy to the Catalans. Sevilla have just come back from Basel after easing past Liverpool to retain the Europa League and make it their third in a row, and their fifth in history (including the Uefa Cup).

The rojiblancos from Andalucia have also won the Copa del Rey five times, their most recent triumphs coming in 2006/07 and 2009/2010. Their 2007 winning side with names such as Dani Alves, Jesús Navas and Frédéric Kanouté, and their 2010 side including Diego Capel and Alvaro Negredo.

Sevilla are known to be a buy-and-sell kind of club, and the genius of sporting director Monchi Rodríguez makes them one of the best clubs in the world at doing so. Monchi has an incredible skill of picking up players for a few million euros, sometimes even a few hundred thousand euros, seeing them perform on the big stage of La Liga and in Europe, and then flogging them off a couple of season’s later for big money. See the likes of Carlos Bacca, bought in from Club Brugge for around 6.7 million euros, and sold on to AC Milan two years later for 29 million euros. I could go on, but I’m sure I’d get as upset and jealous as you would.

Barcelona go into the game feeling confident after securing the Liga title on the final day, and will have mixed feelings in paying the Vicente Calderón another visit, a stadium with some good times and some bad times for the club. Also, a very interesting stadium. Next to the appropriately named Calderón flows the Rio Manzanares river, but even more interestingly, underneath the Calderón’s tribuna stand, a main road is in full working order, making for the strange gaps in two of the stadium’s corners.

Picture via laliga.es

Picture via laliga.es

Controversy was surrounding the Catalan independence flag, the estelada, and its banning from the stadium a few days ago, but after a court case, the ban has been overruled and seen as a denial of a human right, freedom of expression. After this outcome, Barça players will walk out onto the pitch, look to their right and see an ocean of red, yellow, a touch of blue and some little white stars.

Team News

FC Barcelona

Since parading the league title a few days back, the Barça squad has been in good health and all 24 first team players are hopping on the plane to Madrid to join in what will hopefully be a celebration into the night.

Claudio Bravo and Sandro Ramírez received the medical green light on Friday and will be available for the match, but will probably take a view from the bench with Marc-André Ter Stegen being the cup ‘keeper, and Sandro being a reserve at best.

Possible starting XI: Ter Stegen – Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba – Rakitić, Busquets, Iniesta – Messi, Suárez, Neymar

Match squad: Ter Stegen, Bravo, Masip, Douglas, Piqué, Rakitic, Busquets, Alves, Arda Turan, Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Rafinha, Mascherano, Bartra, Munir, Jordi Alba, Sandro, Sergi Roberto, Adriano, Aleix Vidal, Vermaelen, Mathieu

Sevilla FC

Sevilla could be without up to five players on Sunday night. Michael Krohn-Dehli and Benoît Trémoulinas will miss the final through injury, Steven N’Zonzi and Timothée Kolodziejczak through suspension. The Andalucians had injury doubts over Adil Rami and Jose Antonio Reyes, but both travel with the squad.

Against Liverpool, Unai Emery chose to play two right backs in the side, with Brazilian player Mariano starting in the actual position, and Spaniard Coke adopting the right midfield spot. Anyone who watched the match could see how effective this was against an average Alberto Moreno, and Emery could adopt the tactic again for this final to counter Jordi Alba.

Possible starting XI: Rico – Mariano, Rami, Carriço, Escudero – Iborra, Krychowiak – Vitolo, Banega, Coke – Gameiro

Match squad: Sergio Rico, David Soria, Beto, Mariano, Diogo, Coke, Pareja, Rami, Fazio, Carriço, Escudero, Krychowiak, Cristóforo, Luismi, Iborra, Banega, Vitolo, Curro, Konoplyanka, Reyes, Juan Muñoz, Gameiro, Llorente.

Prediction

Finals are always difficult to call, anything can happen, virtually unknown players can burst into top form, out of form players can hit their heights at a click of the fingers and substitutes can change the tie, but it’s difficult not to envisage Barça players and staff punching the air with delight at the final whistle. I’ll go with a 3-1 win in favour of Barça, and a double to celebrate!

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  • Maz Desougi

    Ugh this used to be my go to website for Barca stuff. Heck I even worked for this website for a little over a year. Recently an article a day or every other day. Last article posted was 6 days ago. Truly disappointing. Recruit new fresh blood writers or shut it down

  • Peter Tinkler

    Not only do I hope Barca win tonight, but I’d love to see them put on a great performance. That is important for a club like Barca. It is not just about winning, it is about winning in an aesthetically pleasing manner. But Sevilla are a team to be respected of course. Three European trophies in a row is incredible. Good luck Barca!!

  • Bijama B Kum

    for those who hated it, it’s the last time we’ll see that jersey. visca barca.

  • Pabman

    Let’s go guys!!

  • Catalan784

    Mathieu to shore up the defense. I m surprise why i m still watching the match. If anything Turan should have been brought in place of Neymar

    • Kneowell Anyanwu

      Surprised you took the pain of commenting. They all proved you wrong

  • kaso

    Luis Enrique, thanks for your service. Time to bring in a more tactical coach.

    • Luis Fernando

      What tactic are you even demanding that Luis Enrique can use? He’s used every tactic in the book since arriving at Barcelona. Including defending with 10 men behind the ball (call it parking the bus) today against Sevilla. He’s used direct football. Counter attacking. Everything. What more do you want? What exactly is your expectation from that ‘more tactical coach’?

    • Pabman

      and what??

    • Kneowell Anyanwu

      Thanks for your support as a fan, now we want a replacement for you

  • Catalan784

    Seems like Uncle Flo has done everything to make sure that Barca don’t get the double.

  • colorado

    HOW IN THE WORLD do we have more cards than sevilla

  • Pabman

    People slagging Alba and Neymar….

  • Pabman

    Champions! Ye hath little faith

  • Victor Gusila

    We won goddammit! Stop the bullshit, go get drunk!

    • Pabman

      I am already! ☺️

    • Grega Kavčič

      No point getting drunk, the game was enough to make me really really happy!

      I don’t know why but I really enjoyed it. Most of the times I am really really on the edge and happy only if we win.

  • yaofengchen

    I sensed when Masche got booted off the field we were not going to let off on the offense. If anything a 10 man Barca team can go head to head with any full strength team. Any whatsoever. Even when Luisito pulled his hamstring I felt we still had the momentum on our side. Then the little man came to the rescue.

    I think we are beginning to see a new phase of Messi in his career. That started this season. Exactly when is hard to say. The little man isn’t going to be scoring as prolifically as he did before from now on. We’d better get used to it. He’d be dropping back more to provide those inch perfect passes we have grown so accustomed to except we paid less attention to them because they were outshone by his scoring in the past.

    Naturally a treble is not possible this year and a Real loss in the UCL final is beyond our control. But a double plus a trophyless RM would be the next best thing to repeating the treble. Go Atleti!

    And finally, I wish Dani would stay another season, or two.

  • Pius Kamau

    In an untypical Barca fashion we defended very well and our defending actually kept us in the game.
    Brilliant match and that was some crazy fighting spirit from our boys….domestic double and pichichi…we can call the season a success!!! Viva Barca!!!!!!!!!

  • Frank Bidemi ‘Small’

    This site has been disappointing for days, no news for the past 6 to 7 days, this has been my number one football news site for years and I don’t go a day without visiting. Please I appeal to the management to do something. Congratulations to all Barca family around the world, More success next season, God bless Barca, God bless Barca Family. Visca El Barca

  • Peter Tinkler

    A great win last night. I thoroughly enjoyed the game. It wasn’t a vintage performance in terms of intricate patterns and the like, but it had passion, fight, and incidentally, two very good goals. Also, the performances of Pique, Iniesta, and Buquets were superb. Iniesta at times was absolutely jaw dropping, and Pique was everywhere at the heart of the defense. Well done Barca, a wholly successful season yet again. This team just keep on giving, thank you for adding another sprinkle of joy, colour, and entertainment to our silly little lives 🙂

  • Peter Tinkler

    *Busquets*

  • Piqu3

    Ive been following this page since day 1 (literally) and they used to give great articles like new transfer rumors, pictures of the day, reviews, analysis, everything. Now we only get a preview and still no review or anything said about our season, how we won the double, etc. Its sad to see this site dwindling after so many years honestly im about to look for a new site because theres barely nothing being put up at all anymore on this site…

  • Ewald Hötzl

    I sincerely hope that this page is not down.