Sevilla will need something special to beat Super Cup favourites Man City after a disruptive summer and slow start in LaLiga
- Sevilla won the Europa League last season after fighting for survival in LaLiga
- The Spaniards head into the Super Cup as heavy underdogs behind Man City
- WATCH: ‘It’s All Kicking Off’ – Episode 1 – Mail Sport’s brand new football show
Sevilla have never shirked a final challenge in their history but even their most optimistic fan would admit facing Manchester City in the middle of a disruptive transfer window and after a massively underwhelming first game in La Liga is a little daunting.
The second half of their 22-23 season was nothing short of miraculous with no-nonsense coach Jose Luis Mendilibar replacing the over-complicated Jorge Sampaoli and transforming a relegation battle into a Europa League win.
But if they play as they did in their opening day 2-1 defeat against Valencia then City might be too much for them.
The transfer window is not helping. Goalkeeper Bono has not moved to Real Madrid to replace the injured Thibaut Courtois because they didn’t like the idea of him playing the African Cup of Nations next January.
But he could still move to Bayern Munich or to Saudi Arabia – his future is uncertain and Sevilla president Pepe Castro admitted: ‘I don’t know how long he will be at Sevilla.’
Jose Luis Mendilibar will lead Sevilla in the Super Cup against Manchester City on Wednesday
The Spaniards suffered a dismal 2-1 defeat against Valencia in their opening match of LaLiga
In the centre of defence both the Brazilian Marcao and the Frenchman Tanguy Nianzou are out injured. The pair were bought at the start of last season to replace Diego Carlos when he was sold to Aston Villa and Jules Kounde who had joined Barcelona. They started only 20 games between them because of injury and neither are fit for Wednesday’s game.
Bade Loic arrived last January and impressed alongside Nemanja Gudelj. But that did not stop the club trying to recruit alternatives this summer.
They brought in Federico Gattoni from San Lorenzo but the 24-year-old is playing his first football in Europe and, on as a sub against Valencia, his mistake led to their winner last Friday.
Free agent Sergio Ramos has been linked with a return to the club he made his senior debut for but it seems there is neither the money nor the willing on the part of Sevilla to make it happen.
‘Sergio wants to come? Well, I’d like a private plane,’ said Castro on Tuesday. ‘We have nothing against him. He’s a great player. But he doesn’t fit with our plans.’
All of which leaves them potentially vulnerable in centre defence and without the protection of Fernando playing holding midfield. The former City man is 36 now but he remains vital to the way the team plays and it’s a blow that a virus will keep him out of the game.
The LaLiga outfit continued their phenomenal record in the Europa League by lifting the trophy once again in May, triumphing over Jose Mourinho’s Roma 4-1 on penalties
Sevilla will need to find a way to limit City’s attack, especially goal machine Erling Haaland
The Swiss international Djibril Sow has come in from Eintracht Frankfurt as a future replacement for Fernando but he did not start against Valencia – he might have to against City. The club are also looking at Leicester’s Boubakary Soumare as the try to invigorate an ageing midfield.
Elsewhere they have been upset by their former Sporting Director Monchi’s attempts at signing their Argentine left-back Marcos Acuna for a budget fee just a fortnight before the window closes.
The view is that Villa’s opening gambit was derisory but if it’s upped sufficiently for the 31-year-old World Cup winner then he would be sold. It would be another blow to Mendilibar if he goes.
None of these doubts help the manager who has called City ‘the best team in the world in recent years’, but if he can convince his players of his methods as he did last season, and they tap into their special European pedigree, then they have a chance.
Pep Guardiola heads into the Super Cup having led Manchester City to the Treble last season
He is a coach with a very clear idea. ‘We are not about playing in between lines,’ he said after last Friday’s defeat. ‘We are about getting in behind teams and putting crosses in.’ It’s how they saw off Manchester United, Juventus and Roma to win the Europa League last season.
They still have the Moroccan international striker Youseff En-Nesyri leading the line and he scored against Valencia at the weekend. Suso will offer him quality delivery and the Argentines Lucas Ocampos and Erik Lamela will run until they drop in that second line.
Sevilla have only won one of the six Super Cups contested and they know they are massive underdogs but as their president Castro says: ‘We are never daunted (by an opponent) and even less so in finals.’
If they can turn relegation into Champions League qualification as they did last season then they can humble the best team in the world – there’s just no denying it’s going to be very tough.
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