Even with Neymar missing, Barcelona are rated 1/7 near-certainties to claim their fifth UEFA Super Cup. Yet there are plenty of reasons to fancy Sevilla, who are 19/10 on the double chance, 4/1 for the honour and 15/2 for the 90-minute success, including these five:
1) It happened before
Nine years ago, these clubs clashed in Monaco under the same circumstances – Barcelona as Champions League winners and Sevilla as UEFA Cup holders – and the squad recently christened Europe’s finest suffered a humiliating defeat, trailing within seven minutes and going on to lose 3-0.
2) Barcelona aren’t a great Super Cup team
Catalonia’s head honchos fared a bit better in their two UEFA Super Cup appearances since being turned over by Sevilla in 2006, but not markedly. They again failed to score in 90 minutes in 2009 against Shakhtar, requiring a 115th-minute Pedro Rodriguez (aka Pedro) goal to take the trophy.
A 2-0 victory over Porto in 2011 to make it four titles in eight attempts needs a little context applied too. The Portuguese side had just lost Europa League-winning coach Andre Villas-Boas and main man Radamel Falcao and were a fading force, as their subsequent Champions League group-stage exit confirmed.
3) The curse of the treble winners
Any team that win the treble has shown that there isn’t an opponent capable of intimidating them, yet overcoming complacency the next season is a different battle entirely. Once you’ve won all the most glamorous silverware in the game, is the UEFA Super Cup worth getting excited about?
Perhaps that explains why none of the previous five clubs to deliver their domestic title, cup and the Champions League in a single term prevailed in 90 minutes in the following campaign’s UEFA Super Cup.
Barcelona leaned on extra time in 2009, Bayern Munich were taken to penalties in 2012, Inter flopped 2-0 to Atletico Madrid in 2010, Manchester United were turned over by Lazio in 1999, and PSV sunk 3-1 on aggregate to Belgian side Mechelen in 1988.
4) The tide is turning
The recent head-to-head statistics don’t offer much encouragement to Sevilla, who were beaten six times in a row by Barcelona.
However, the Rojiblancos channelled their inner Vitas Gerulaitis – the tennis player once quipped that “nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row” after finally besting Jimmy Connors following 16 straight defeats – to resist Luis Enrique’s men in April, recovering from 2-0 down for a 2-2 draw.
That comeback took their goal count in the latest six meetings with their domestic rulers to nine.
5) The invincibility factor
Unlike Barcelona, who were conquered in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final with Bayern Munich, Sevilla haven’t lost a European encounter in 2015. Instead, they have won eight and drawn one, with 2015/16 Champions League qualifiers like Borussia Monchengladbach (twice) and Zenit St Petersburg among their victims.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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