We are inching closer to the Copa del Rey Final between Barcelona and Sevilla, who clash this Sunday at Vicente Calderón. Both teams arrive in great form, and will certainly put on a fantastic show.
Coaches Luis Enrique and Unai Emery are among the best in Spain, and their starting lineups will give us an idea of which game to expect. We predict the teams we might see at Calderón.
Alves - Piqué - Mascherano - Alba
Rakitic - Busquets - Iniesta
Messi - Suárez - Neymar
The best football team on Earth is back to the top. After a terrible run in April, the real Barça has regained the world-beating form that got them a 39-game unbeaten streak earlier this season, and a huge part of that recovery is the Gala XI. The best eleven players on the squad carried the team back to the winning ways in a moment where the bench players couldn't contribute, and have absolutely destroyed the opponents over the last month.
In the last five games, Barça kept five clean sheets and won all matches by a combined score of 24-0. Luis Suárez is in otherworldly form, having scored a whopping 14 goals in the winning streak. The whole 'MSN' trio is playing great football again, and their play has lifted Barça towards a second straight league title.
The ever criticized defense has performed well as of late, and the midfielders are doing their job perfectly. This is a great football team again, and there is simply no reason to change it in the final match of the season coming off eight days of rest/training. IF Lucho decides to rotate, we might see Sergi Roberto, Arda Turan or Rafinha Alcântara on the lineup. But that is certainly not happening.
Mariano - Kolodziejczak - Carriço - Escudero
Krychowiak - N'Zonzi
Coke - Banega - Vitolo
You may have heard, but Sevilla won the Europa League again. The Rojiblancos simply OWN the second biggest European competition, and played a spectacular match against Liverpool last Wednesday, especially in the second half. That team performed so well that coach Emery is likely to repeat it.
Looking at the squad, he really has no other choice. Other than defender Kolodziejczak, who will replace injured center-back Adil Rami, there is no real strong backup option on the bench. Three very important players (midfielders Reyes and Krohn-Dehli and full-back Trémoulinas) are injured, and they would be the potential replacements if Emery decided to rotate. But with those players out, he will probably choose the lineup from Basel again on Sunday.
That probable choice has good and bad news for Sevilla. The good: this team's confidence is at an all-time high after the phenomenal display against the Reds in the second half. Full-back Mariano, winger Coke and striker Gameiro were absurd in those final 45 minutes, and will certainly cause problems against Barça. If they can display the same intensity and quality of play at Calderón, they might win a second trophy in four days.
Now, the bad news: the players are exhausted. The level of intensity and quality showed in Basel is simply impossible to repeat after only four days. The team had to dig deep and work harder than ever to come back against Liverpool, and they will arrive to face Barça with tired legs. Gameiro might not be as effective on the counter, Mariano might not be fit enough to go up and down the pitch for 90 minutes, and Coke will face a stronger defense.
Plus, Sevilla will face a much more dangerous team than the Reds, and they can't play against Barça the same way they did in that second half. Attack like crazy all the time, and the 'MSN' will destroy them on the break. This will be an amazing football match, and Barça will have the upper hand for two reasons: it's a better team, and has better fitness.
Don't ever discount Sevilla, though. After all, they just won the Europa League three straight times.