Sevilla v Barcelona: Guillem Balague previews Copa del Rey final
Last Updated: 21/04/18 7:44pm
With Barcelona and Sevilla set to lock horns in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday, Guillem Balague looks ahead to a fascinating encounter which may not necessarily follow the form book...
The Copa del Rey final, live on Sky Sports, pits two teams in completely different situations against each other.
There is almost like an obligation for Barcelona to win it, they have had the league title in the bag for so long it feels like the cup is a given. It will be their fourth consecutive cup if they get the job done and their 30th in total.
For head coach Ernesto Valverde, who has never won the Copa del Rey and lost a UEFA Cup final while in charge with Espanyol, it's a tournament which motivates him a lot and he is trying to make that contagious among his squad.
Of course, when a cup and a title is up for grabs, the stars lift their heads and, despite being on their last legs and tired, Barca are fully aware of the job in hand.
For Sevilla the final is not a job, it's a celebration. They are in yet another final in what's proving to be an amazing era in their history.
Yes, they have struggled in La Liga, even Real Betis are ahead of them, and they were not close enough to Bayern Munich. But while the league position is seen as a worry, the Champions League campaign is viewed positively.
They are a young side and they should not be competing with the Bayern Munich's of this world, so being in the quarter-finals is considered a success, as is reaching another final.
Logically, they do not consider themselves favourites against Barcelona but they are a team that is made to compete in cups. To do that, to actually win cup competitions, you need players that raise their game when needed.
And in Ever Banega, Steven N'Zonzi and, surprisingly, Wissam Ben Yedder, they have three players that have shown in big games that they are there to be counted on.
To focus on the game, Sevilla have gone away for a week. Meanwhile, everyone in Sevilla has pretended to work and revolved their lives around the Feria de Abril, a public party that goes for about week.
It's designed to distract people, even players, so Vincenzo Montella's squad has been whisked away to Marbella with the idea of putting all of their efforts into the game.
Valverde rested a lot of players against Celta Vigo and it would appear Sevilla are generally more focused on the game, focused on how to stop Barcelona.
This Sevilla is one which feels much more confident with the ball than without the ball. The problem has not been so much about creating chances and controlling games, like they did against Manchester United, instead it's been about finishing the chances they create.
Barcelona has lost some of the control they had in the past but, crucially, they have finishers. However, in key moments of the season, they have fallen short, not so much against Real Madrid in La Liga but definitely in the Supercopa and certainly against Roma in the Champions League.
You could see Barcelona struggled in Europe, there is something missing from that side; a spark, youth, new ideas and fresh impetus. They are lacking new people putting new ideas into practice.
All things considered, it makes for a fascinating encounter, one that Sevilla are more than capable of managing well.
Yes, they see it as a celebration, but they also see it as a chance to get their hands on the cup.
Watch the Copa del Rey final - Sevilla v Barcelona - live from 8.25pm on Sky Sports Mix.