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Previewing 2015 UEFA Super Cup

Image: AP
After one of the shortest pre-seasons in years due to next season's Euro 2016 in France, Spanish football returns and it returns in Georgia in a country which is situated at the dividing line by both Asia and Europe as Tbilisi hosts its first European Football final ever.

Here we break down the whole game from the lineups to key facts and more.
Image: InsideSpanishFootball.com
Match information
Date: Tuesday 11 August 2015
Kick-off: 7:45pm BST

A look at FC Barcelona

Barca come into this one aiming to win their fourth trophy in a year just days before the Super Copa De Espana final which gives them a chance to head into the new La Liga season with two trophies already won and see them win five trophies in the space of three months.
The elections were ran early due to the crisis that unfolded last January after the defeat away to La Real in the Basque Country and with Laporta running for the presidency again many including myself expected Laporta to win in what would be an election that could improve the club's fortunes off the pitch.

Unfortunately on Saturday 18th July late at night the news came in that Bartomeu had won and not only will he be the president for the next six years which means we'll have him at the helm until 2021 but the news that surprised us all was how comfortable he had won these elections with more than 50% of the vote in his favour (54% to be precise).

I cannot stand Bartomeu and the fact that Qatar Airways remains on the shirt as sponsor sits uneasy with many Barca supporters and I feel uneasy to see it on the shirt too because Barcelona are one of the biggest clubs in the world and their brand and image is worldwide, so to see a country with extremely poor human rights and a country where construction workers are dying on a weekly basis due to poor working conditions as they aim to build stadiums on time for the 2022 World Cup is just wrong.

More: Are Barcelona rejecting their La Masia academy?

All people see from the outside is a treble and that's what those Barcelona club members saw when they turned up on polling day to vote and if the treble wasn't won I'm 99% certain Bartomeu wouldn't be the president now and unless he proves us all wrong then when he does finally depart the club he'll have destroyed its soul and identity.

From having Qatar on the shirt and slowly destroying La Masia to sticking with a manager who doesn't get the first team playing the football that is the true true identity of the club and the Cruyff way his reign for me personally will always be remembered as a sham from start to finish.
Image: DesktopImages.org
Barcelona for me will dominate and keep on winning trophies and Bartomeu's reign will be remembered for all these wonderful trophies by those outside Catalonia and outside of the Club but that dominance is likely to come at a price and that's by La Masia and the identity and soul of FC Barcelona being ripped to pieces and destroyed slowly but surely.

I still do not feel that Luis Enrique is the man to take this club forward and yes that probably seems mad to outsiders reading this but he's an arrogant man who barely speaks to his players and you can say it's about tactics all you want but it's not all down to him.

Praise the players not the coach in my opinion because this is a coach who has the best front three to have ever played the game for me and it took him until the middle of January this year to realise he had to play them together, this guy is a Class A clown!

Messi doesn't like Bartomeu either and the fact he'll be 34 when Bartomeu leaves means that we'll see a Messi reaching the end of his career and Bartomeu getting six years of Messi at his best because when Bartomeu leaves Messi won't be anywhere near the player he is right now in my opinion.
Image: SportMatchFixtures.com
I still remember Berlin and the celebrations and I have fond memories of it and I thank the players for that but this coach and this president can keep on winning trophies all they want but Bartomeu in particular must address La Masia because I don't believe he will and at the moment I'll resent him forever as he destroys La Masia slowly but surely.

The signings of Vidal and Turan are good signings in terms of back up but I fear that these signings could see Luis Enrique return back to his constant rotating of the side that saw Barca struggle so much in the first half of last season so keep an eye on things as soon as these players can play competitively in January 2016 which will be the second half of this season of course.

Fact: Sevilla-Barcelona transfers
Barcelona have now signed twelve players from Sevilla and the last four players they've signed from Sevilla in Keita (2008), Alves (2008), Adriano (2010) and Rakitic (2014) they've gone on to win the Champions League in the same season.

A look at Sevilla

Yet again Sevilla have had another busy summer bringing in many new players including Mariano Ferreira, Konoplyanka, Steven N'Zonzi, Sergio Escudero, Gael Kakuta, Krohn-Delhi, Adil Rami and striker Ciro Immobile who replaces last season's top scorer Carlos Bacca who left the club to join Italian side AC Milan for 30 million Euros.

Aswell as Bacca, Aleix Vidal has left to join Barcelona whilst Deulofeu's loan expired and he returned to Barcelona to then end up signing for English side Everton and M'Bia,Trochowski, Aspas, Arribas have all departed the Andalusian club.

Despite the departures of key figures Bacca, Vidal and M'Bia Sevilla have managed to keep the majority of last season's Europa League winning squad together with the likes of Vitolo, Krychowiak, Reyes, Denis Suarez, Gameiro and Iborra all still at the club.

With the added demands of Champions League football this season Sevilla have not just had the job of re-building the squad yet again due to departures of key players but they've also had to add to the squad and give them what they had last season and that's the ability to field two strong sides with a A team playing in Europe and a B team playing in La Liga when required.
Image: StraitsTimes.com
Last season you could never define which was the A or B team due to Sevilla's incredible strength in depth and just like last season they have a squad which yes has quantity but they've also made sure that quantity comes with quality too and their squad for me is much stronger than it was last season.

Emery is more than likely going to stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation that served them well last season but it's anyone's guess to know what his strongest side is and I'm almost certain that he won't know his strongest eleven until mid September at the earliest.

Sevilla have had another great summer in the transfer market and full credit to Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo who has yet again worked his magic and pulled off some incredible signings especially the Konoplyanka who is a tricky player to sign as he is owned by a third party which makes it more complicated than any normal transfer.

Sevilla have a much stronger squad than last season as I've said above and they'll push Valencia very close for that fourth spot yet again in La Liga just like they did last season as they missed out by just one point and their failure to beat Valencia in any of the two meetings last season saw them deficient in the head to head stakes.

Sevilla are likely to be in Pot 3 for the UEFA Champions League group stage draw meaning they are likely to be handed a tough group but I feel they can make it past the group stages and many people including people reading this will under-estimate them, do that at your peril and remember that although this is a European final don't base anything on what you see from either side in Tbilisi as it's still pre-season in effect!

Fact: Slippery Sevilla
Sevilla have conceded in all six of their last six meetings against Barcelona and lost five of them with all six having a minimum of three goals in them.

The final and what to expect

I think that in this final we'll see this game being played at a faster pace than would be normal in what is still pre-season for sides from La Liga and it's going to be a game very exciting to watch for the neutrals watching events in Tbilisi.

Barcelona are going to have most of the ball but this Barca defence is still suspect to the counter-attack and that 2-2 draw last season in La Liga at the Pizjuan when Barca were in command and two goals to the good showed their deficiency in defence.

Sevilla can get right under the skin of the big boys in La Liga and that includes Barca and this final in Tbilisi really is anybody's and when you consider that Sevilla are a much stronger outfit than they were last season and have two players for every position they aren't underdogs in this one.

Emery's added pace to his side and also added an element of counter-attacking ability and strength to his side's attack and his men really can trouble Barca enough in Tbilisi to win this one but that doesn't mean they will but for me it's going to be very interesting to see how they compete with Barcelona compared to last season at a venue that is not the Pizjuan because the 5-1 defeat in Catalonia last season in La Liga isn't Sevilla.

Expect a great final and contest for a pre-season affair that's a European final but remember Sevilla are no mugs and this certainly is not as one sided a final as others will try and brainwash you into believing.
Image: InsideSpanishFootball.com
Stats and facts

  • Barcelona right-back Dani Alves is hoping to equal Paolo Maldini's record in the UEFA Super Cup which is four wins and five appearances
  • Barcelona are in the UEFA Super Cup Final for a record ninth time and will match Italian side AC Milan's record of five victories if they are victorious in Tbilisi
  • Sevilla coach Unai Emery has never beaten Barcelona in 19 attempts as a coach
  • Lionel Messi loves playing against the Andalusian side and has scored a total of 22 goals against them for the Catalans
  • This is the third UEFA Super Cup Final between sides from La Liga with the previous two coming in 2006 and 2014
  • Sevilla lost last year's UEFA Super Cup to Real Madrid in the Welsh Capital of Cardiff 2-0 and their record in the UEFA Super Cup is two defeats and one victory in the three finals they've been involved in
  • Barcelona have won four and lost four of the eight UEFA Super Cup Finals they've been in so far and one of those defeats came against Sevilla in the 2006 final in the French City of Monaco
  • Dani Alves is aiming to win his third UEFA Super with the Catalans after winning the competition with the club in 2009 and 2011 and despite losing the 2006 final to Sevilla he still came away with the man of the match award despite a 3-0 defeat
  • If Dani Alves plays in Tbilisi he will match Paolo Maldini's record of appearing in five UEFA Super Cups
  • Luis Enrique could become the fourth man to lift the UEFA Super Cup as both a coach and player emulating Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti and Diego Simeone
  • Barcelona have won five of their 21 games against sides from La Liga in Europe drawing six and losing ten
  • Sevilla have won six of their fifteen matches against sides from La Liga in Europe losing five and drawing six
  • Eleven of the last fourteen finals have been settled in the 90 minutes
  • Just one of the last fourteen finals has been settled by a penalty shootout and that came back in 2013 as English side Chelsea saw off German side Bayern Munich in the Czech City of Prague
  • Whatever happens in Tbilisi Spain will increase their lead as the most successful nation in the history of the UEFA Super Cup with 12 victories and 22 appearances in the final itself
  • It is 8-7 to the winners of the UEFA Champions League as to who has won the UEFA Super Cup in the fifteen finals that have taken place since the winners of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League began to meet in this final for the UEFA Super Cup title
  • The referee for this final is Scottish Referee William Collum who became a FIFA listed referee in 2006 and is known for his mistake in 2011 when he wrongly ruled out a goal for Rangers in the first half but after the Derby was praised for how he kept control of such a hostile game
  • In 2010 he refereed his first Old Firm match and after the match his decisions during the game were questioned by Celtic fans and himself and his family were subject to death threats with a Sectarian element to them.
Image: DailyMail.co.uk

Venue facts and stats

  • This is the first European Final to be played in Georgia
  • This is the first competitive game that either side will play in Georgia
  • Sevilla midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak has fond memories of the national stadium in Tbilisi after scoring for his native Poland in a 4-0 victory there last November in a UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifier
  • The Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena will have its capacity reduced by around 20,000 for this final to make room and space for TV Crews and Cameras say the Georgian Football Federation
  • The Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena holds around 54,000
  • The Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena lies just outside Tbilisi City Centre and can be reached by a 30 minute walk down the down the banks of the river that runs through the Centre of Tbilisi
  • Regular buses serve the stadium from Tbilisi City Centre to take you on the half a mile journey from the City Centre and take around 10 minutes
  • The Stadium was built in 1967 and was renovated in 2006 into an all seater stadium
  • The first official match at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena came in September 1976 as Georgian Side Dinamo Tbilisi beat Welsh side Cardiff City 3-0 in a friendly to mark the opening of the stadium
  • The Stadium's record attendance was in 1979 when 110,000 turned up to see Dinamo Tbilisi beat English side Liverpool 3-0 to reach the European Champions Clubs Cup Quarter-Final
  • The Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena will this year host Georgia's final two UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifiers against Scotland and Gibraltar
Barcelona and Sevilla will collide in Georgia—who will walk away with the prestigious crown?

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TheSportMatrix | We Live For Sport: Previewing 2015 UEFA Super Cup
Previewing 2015 UEFA Super Cup
After one of the shortest pre-seasons in years due to next season's Euro 2016 in France, Spanish football returns and it returns in Georgia in a country which is situated at the dividing line by both Asia and Europe as Tbilisi hosts its first European Football final ever.
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TheSportMatrix | We Live For Sport
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