Barcelona, Sevilla aim for successful end in Copa del Rey
ABS-CBN Sports on May 22, 2016 10:33 AM
Sevilla players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Europa League final soccer match between Liverpool and Sevilla in Basel, Switzerland, Wednesday, May 18, 2016. Sevilla won the match 3-1. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
JOSEPH WILSON, Associated Press
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Important titles secured, Barcelona and Sevilla aim to sweeten already successful seasons in the Copa del Rey final on Sunday.
Barcelona is defending its domestic cup trophy at Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid, a week after winning its second straight Spanish league title.
The Liga champions face a Sevilla side that is riding high after coming back in the second half to beat Liverpool 3-1 and clinch a third straight Europa League title on Wednesday.
"It's the last game of the season, everything has a beginning and an end, and we are heading into the match highly motivated to win another title," Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said on Saturday.
Despite his team's advantage of four more days of rest and preparation, Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta expects Sevilla to be a bigger threat after having retained the Europa League crown.
"It makes them more dangerous," Iniesta said. "They have already won a title and will be feeling great. This is a team that always plays us tough. It has great players and a coach that gives it a lot of character."
Iniesta, who along with Lionel Messi holds a career 27 club trophies, helped Barcelona lift three of its record 27 Copa del Rey titles — in 2009, 2012 and 2015.
Sevilla has tested Barcelona three times this season.
Barcelona needed extra time to edge Sevilla in a 5-4 shootout for the European Super Cup last August.
Unai Emery's side then dealt Barcelona a 2-1 loss in Seville before the Catalan club won 2-1 at its Camp Nou in their two league meetings.
"This is a tremendous opportunity that will be very difficult to have again," Emery said. "We are facing a rival that is the favorite and who wants and needs to win a second trophy because its credibility depends on winning titles."
Barcelona will again look to its trio of star forwards to finish off the campaign with another trophy, adding the cup to the league, Club World Cup and European Super Cup titles.
Striker Luis Suarez leads Barcelona with 59 total goals across all competitions, followed by Messi's 41 and Neymar's 30.
Despite having injury doubts in its defense, Sevilla will likely stick to its tried and trusted strategy when it faces Barcelona of soaking up its attacks while looking to exploit the speed of striker Kevin Gameiro and forward Victor "Vitolo" Machin.
Sevilla can also look to its record in winning all five of its Europa League finals in the last 11 seasons.
Luis Enrique praised Emery for making Sevilla an expert in knockout tournaments.
"(Emery) is one of the best coaches in European football," Luis Enrique said. "They are specialists in finals and in turning around an adverse score in a final. I am optimistic that we will win, but our rival will be in the match until the end."
Sevilla has won the Copa del Rey five times, with its last title coming in 2010.
"At the start of the season it was unthinkable that we would be disputing two finals," Vitolo said. "But at this stage we are very excited about the possibility."