Newly-crowned Spanish champions Barcelona face Sevilla, fresh from winning their third consecutive Europa League, as both seek more glory in the Spanish Cup final today. Another successful campaign for both sides will end as it began after Barca edged Sevilla 5-4 after extra-time in a thrilling season-opening European Super Cup final. Indeed, Barca could end the season with four trophies in total having also claimed the Club World Cup in December.
Barca captain Andres Iniesta laughed off suggestions that a La Liga and Cup double is the minimum requirement for the Catalan giants to ease the pain of their Champions League exit to Atletico Madrid at the quarter-final stage last month.
However, the Spanish international did admit Barca`s success of winning six La Liga titles and three Copas del Rey in the past eight years has provoked a relentless demand for more trophies.
“When you win a league it`s impossible for it to be a bad season. It will always be a good season,” Iniesta said yesterday. “This team always has the obligation to win in a final. We fight for all the titles each season, sometimes we win and other times we don`t, but the obligation to win is permanent.
“It is like that in every game we play, so imagine what it is like in a final. The club doesn`t allow errors, dips or not winning things and this will not change.”
Sevilla appear to have the significant disadvantage of having beaten Liverpool in the Europa League final just five days before facing Barca at Atletico Madrid`s Vicente Calderon.
By contrast, Luis Enrique`s men have had a free week since Luis Suarez`s hat-trick in a 3-0 win at Granada retained their league title.
Enrique insisted he expects to win, but warned that Sevilla`s experience in finals could pose Barca problems. “I am an optimist, I think we are going to win,” he said. “Sevilla have brilliantly won again the Europa League final and they have the chance to do the double too which is very important for a team like Sevilla.
“They keep winning titles. With us they are one of the teams most used to playing finals and that will make tomorrow a very attractive match.”
The action off the field has been dominated by a political row in the buildup as Catalan separatist flags were initially banned from the stadium by the Spanish government before Barca successfully appealed that decision through the courts.
“Very few things surprise me in this country,” said Enrique. “In the end the logical thing has happened and the freedom of expression for everyone has been respected.”
All three previous meetings between the sides this season have been settled by one goal as Sevilla won 2-1 at home in October in La Liga before Barca claimed victory by the same scoreline at the Camp Nou in February.
“We have their respect because we have earned it when we`ve faced them,” said Sevilla coach Unai Emery. And Emery is keen to pile the pressure on Barca as favourites despite Sevilla`s fantastic cup record in the three years since he took charge.
“They need this title because Barcelona feed off winning titles, but our strength is our desire,” he added. “These moments come around very rarely for us. How many times have Barca won the Cup? Loads. We haven`t, but for us to play in tomorrow`s final is a gift that we will happily unwrap.”
Barca are expected to name an unchanged team from the side that started at Granada with Enrique afforded the luxury of choosing from a squad free of injuries and suspensions.
Sevilla are without the suspended Steven N`Zonzi and Timothee Kolodziejczak, whilst Benoit Tremoulinas and Michael Krohn-Dehli remain sidelined by injury.
However, Spanish international goalkeeper Sergio Rico and captain Jose Antonio Reyes could return after missing out against Liverpool in midweek.