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Golden boy Messi can inspire Barcelona in quest for Super Cup silverware

11 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Golden boy Messi can inspire Barcelona in quest for Super Cup silverware

Barcelona may be favourites to lift their fourth trophy of 2015, but with Sevilla getting used to mixing it with the big boys their task won't be easy

The annual curtain raiser for European football takes place on Tuesday, with Barcelona and Sevilla – the two most-decorated sides in the continent’s two premier competitions during the last decade – going head to head in the UEFA Super Cup.

Luis Enrique’s career has already followed a spookily similar path to that of former teammate Pep Guardiola.

Both represented the Catalans with distinction as a player before claiming a remarkable treble in their first season in charge having earned their managerial stripes with the Barça B team.

The game offers Enrique the chance to lift a fourth trophy of the calendar year as he seeks to replicate Guardiola’s unprecedented sextuple of 2009.

Having swept aside all before them last season, his side are hot favourites at 4/11 to equal AC Milan’s record of five Super Cup wins.

The Spanish champions may be missing Brazilian forward Neymar with mumps, but in the irrepressible Lionel Messi they have a man who relishes playing against Sevilla more than most, having notched eight goals in his last five games against the Andalusians.

Match Special: 7/2 – Lionel Messi to score first and Barcelona to win

Sevilla have not beaten Barcelona in their last eleven attempts, while their manager Unai Emery’s barren streak against the Blaugrana stretches back even further having gone 19 matches without a victory.

Yet hopes are high at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán following a record La Liga points haul last time out and a fourth Europa League win during the last nine years – one which brought the added bounty of Champions League qualification for the first time since 2009.

They may have lost top-scorer Carlos Bacca to AC Milan and top assist-provider Aleix Vidal to Tuesday’s opponents, but Sevilla are a side who are becoming increasingly comfortable with the challenges of rebuilding.

Just look at how well they coped with the sale of midfield maestro Ivan Rakitic – also to Barcelona – last season.

In this sense they can take great inspiration from Atlético Madrid – another Spanish side who have been forced to constantly regenerate as their star players are cherry-picked by Europe’s elite sides – not merely in terms of league performance but also their exploits in the Super Cup.

Twice during the last five years Atlético have upset the odds to defeat Champions League winners – Inter Milan and Chelsea respectively – and lift the season’s first piece of European silverware.

Sevilla may have lost their previous two Super Cup finals against Real Madrid and AC Milan, but they have happy memories of their first appearance in the competition against Barcelona in 2006 when they registered a comprehensive 3-0 win against then-manager Frank Rijkaard’s side.

Europa League winners have tended to shade these contests since they became one-legged affairs in 1998 with an aggregate score of 8-9 in the 17 years since, and at 13/2 Sevilla are a generous price to cause another upset this time around.

Daily Special: 9/4 – Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez both to score

Barcelona v Sevilla betting