Euro Super Cup - Live Match Report
On what will undoubtedly be a historic night at the Boris Paichadzis Erovnuli Stadium, Europa League winners Sevilla have a large challenge on their hands as they take on Champions League winners and La Liga rivals FC Barcelona for the chance to take home a prestigious trophy that will no doubt kickstart their season and get the winning team up and running.
Sevilla have looked to become a deadly force in recent years, winning their third Europa League in 2014 after beating S.L. Benfica on penalties in Turin before following it up with their record fourth Europa League after beating Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 3-2 in a dramatic night in Warsaw. Unai Emery has not stopped his campaign for Sevilla, bringing in experienced players like Borja Valero and Andre-Pierre Gignac to make sure that his team will be a thunderous force and possible title contenders in the season to come, but it will all come down to tonight, where we will see if Sevilla have what it takes to be the global superpower that many claim they can be.
Barcelona are the current global superpower that stands in the way of Sevilla's success. Last season, under the managerial prowess and watchful eye of Luis Enrique, the team achieved one of their most successful seasons to date as they clinched the Copa del Rey, beating Athletic Bilbao 3-1 at the Camp Nou, La Liga and the Champions League, beating Juventus 3-1 in Berlin, to achieve the Treble that many teams dream of. By doing so, the Catalans became the first European team to twice win their domestic double as well as the highest continental tournament, after winning their first treble in the 2008–09 season. Barcelona's success was majorly down to their formidable forward trio composed of Lionel Messi, Neymar and last summer signing Luis Suárez, who scored an unprecedented total of 122 goals in all competitions to become the trio with most goals in Spanish football history. Those are the three men that Sevilla need to watch out for if they have any chance of coming away with a win tonight.
Barcelona kick off from the spot, with Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets passing it between themselves in order to keep the ball in the possession of the Catalan club. Passing back into the defence to Gerard Pique, the ball is knocked along to Busquets and then to Lionel Messi out on the right wing. Not stopping the play, Messi knocks a through ball towards Luis Suarez, who tries to knock another across the ground towards Messi. The ball, however, is cleanly intercepted by Benoit Tremoulinas before it has the chance to reach the feet of Lionel Messi.
Tremoulinas throws the ball into play and straight to the feet of Michael Krohn-Dehli, who passes the ball short to the feet of Eugene Konoplyanka, who runs a few metres before floating a lovely through ball over the top of both Gerard Pique and Daniel Alves to the feet of new signing Andre-Pierre Gignac, who sprints down the wing and cuts inside on the edge of the box. Finding both Gerard Pique and Marc Bartra in front of him, Gignac rolls the ball to his right and hits the ball towards the net of Claudio Bravo, but it instead hits the back of Daniel Alves and is parried away to safety by the stalwart defender.
Sevilla have been awarded a corner after the ball deflected off of Marc Bartra, thanks to a failed cross from Benoit Tremoulinas. Taking the corner, Borja Valero floats the ball into the box and finds the head of defender Adil Rami, who out-jumps Javier Mascherano and hits the ball on his head with thunderous force, but watches as the ball rebounds off of the crossbar and to the feet of Andres Iniesta, who boots the ball away in a cool and calm clearance.
As Luis Suarez looks to make a break with the ball, he is upended by a rough challenge from Adil Rami and sent straight to the floor. Rami is called over by referee Deniz Aytekin, who pulls out a yellow card and proceeds to write down Rami's name on the back of it.
Andres Iniesta collects the ball, having intercepted it from a bad ball from Vicente Iborra. He stops the play as he is approached by Rami and Coke, but passes a smooth through ball between both of the defenders to the feet of Lionel Messi. Running down the wings, Messi cuts inside and lets loose with a thunderous ball, but the shot is stopped by goalkeeper Sergio Rico.
Borja Valero has gone down and is clutching his calf with a grimace. He landed awkwardly on his leg after a challenge from Sergio Busquets, On comes the physio to check on him, but after about a minute he is deemed fit enough to play on for the rest of the half.
Corner kick to Sevilla. Krohn-Dehli runs up to take it, swinging it in to try and land the ball on the head of one of his teammates. However, the ball finds the head of Javier Mascherano as he knocks it away to the feet of Andres Iniesta, who latches onto the ball and passes it over to the big man known as Gerard Pique, who in turn clears it away. Luis Suarez looks to get on the end of the cleared ball, but Benoit Tremoulinas rises above him and heads it down to the feet of Michael Krohn-Dehli. Passing it down the left side, Krohn-Dehli finds the feet of Eugene Konoplyanka, who passes it first time to his left and to his teammate in Borja Valero.
GOAL! Holding up the play, Borja Valero finds Michael Krohn-Dehli, who angles the ball out onto the right for Coke to find. Swinging it into the box, Coke finds Jose Antonio Reyes. Letting the ball drop, Reyes fires a half-volley from a tight angle and beats Claudio Bravo at his near post, putting Sevilla in the lead by one goal twenty-two minutes into the Euro Super Cup.
Iniesta sprays the ball out onto the right wing, before stopping the play and allowing Daniel Alves to lap over him. Iniesta plays the ball through to Alves, who takes the ball but is immediately dropped to the ground by a bad tackle from Eugene Konoplyanka. Referee Deniz Aytekin rushes towards the two men and pulls a yellow card from his pocket, adding the second Sevilla name to a yellow card during this match.
The whistle goes for the break and the two teams go in with Sevilla surprisingly leading. A strike from captain Jose Antonio Reyes put Sevilla into the lead, but will they be able to hold onto the lead for the next 45?
Replacing Borja Valero, who's earlier injury had been nagging him for the entire of the first half, Ever Banega comes onto the pitch and stands behind Reyes and Gigne as the second half finally gets underway. The ball is passed out to Vicente Iborra, who lays it off to Ever Banega. The ball is then given to Krohn-Dehli, who lifts it over and back to Vicente Iborra. The ball is passed into space and is picked up by Reyes, who plays a lovely through ball to Coke. Floating the ball into the box with a rather early cross, the ball is caught by Marc Bartra, who kicks it out for a throw-in.
GOAL! The ball is passed through the Barcelona defence to Claudio Bravo, who boots the ball up to hopefully get it on the end of one of the strikers. However, the ball is caught by Michael Krohn-Dehli and passed to Vicente Iborra, who in turn passes to Reyes and then to Coke. Crossing it in once more, Coke tries to get the ball to Andre-Pierre Gignac. However, the ball is caught by Thomas Vermaelen. Unfortunately, a mishap between Vermaelen, Bartra and Bravo spills the ball into the back of the Barcelona net, putting Sevilla 2-0 ahead and starting to sink Barcelona without a trace or any chance or fighting back.
Barcelona are gifted a corner. Daniel Alves moves up to take it and passes it into the feet of Javier Mascherano. However, Vicente Iborra comes flying from the box and slides into the legs of Javier Mascherano, cleanly taking the ball but leaving Mascherano clutching his leg in almost agony as the play continues.
Former Sevilla captain Ivan Rakitic gets onto the ball and scouts out his options. As he goes to pass the ball to one of his teammates, however, Michael Krohn-Dehli takes him out and stops the play before it can even begin. Referee Deniz Aytekin suddenly descends upon the pair of them, brandishing a yellow card at Krohn-Dehli and gifting the third yellow card of the night to Sevilla.
GOAL! Andres Iniesta floats in a corner towards the Sevilla box, which is headed down by Lionel Messi. The ball falls to Barcelona left back Jordi Alba, who strikes it with all his might. Amidst the sea of both Sevilla and Barcelona players, goalkeeper Sergio Rico is unable to see where the ball is and cannot stop it hitting the top left corner, pulling the score back to 2-1 and giving Barcelona a chance at hope.
GOAL! After being fouled by Ivan Rakitic, Sevilla midfielder Michael Krohn-Dehli steps up to a free kick spot almost 30 yards out from the net. He makes the run and strikes it, before holding his hands up high as it curves into the top left hand corner of Bravo's net. The score is extended to 3-1 and the game is put beyond doubt in Sevilla's favour.
IT'S OVER! Sevilla have done it! The entire stadium is in uproar! Sevilla have overcome the odds set before them and have beaten Barcelona! The Catalan army cannot believe it! Jose Antonio Reyes and Unai Emery are among the swarm of players and staff who have imersed themselves in the celebrations! This is a memorable moment for everyone involved at Sevilla!
Man of the Match
The Sevilla vice-captain picks up the MotM award for this match, never letting up alongside Jose Antonio Reyes in order to continuously pump the ball into the Barcelona box and keep the opposition defence on their toes.