The second leg matches of the 2015/16 Copa del Rey semifinals both ended in draws, with Barcelona tying 1-1 against Valencia and Sevilla hitting a 2-2 stalemate with Celta de Vigo. Judging from a snapshot of just those two games, you could make the observation that the semis were close. They weren’t.
Indeed, both Barcelona and Sevilla won so big in their first leg games that they were easily able to coast into the finals. Barcelona crushed Valencia 7-0 in their first match, with Luis Suarez scoring four goals and Lionel Messi netting three. Sevilla, meanwhile, beat Celta Vigo 4-0, with Kevin Gameiro providing a brace and Adil Rami and Michael Krohn-Dehli netting one goal apiece.
The Second Leg
The two at-home victories left the challenging teams more or less powerless to keep their Copa del Rey hopes alive. In their away game against Valencia, Barcelona didn’t even include Messi, Suarez, and Neymar in the lineup, instead choosing to play Ivan Rakitic, Munir, and Sandro Ramirez as the front three. Munir and Ramirez are seen by many as Barca’s future vanguard but are largely inexperienced as of yet. Still, what amounted to Barca’s B-team managed a 1-1 draw to win the semifinal on an aggregate of 8-1.
Sevilla, meanwhile, did play most of their best players, leaving Gameiro in the center forward position. The Red and Whites struggled in their game, falling two points behind Celta Vigo early in the second half. Even two points down, though, Sevilla weren’t in a very vulnerable position, and when they came back with two goals of their own in the second half, it only solidified their spot in the finals.
Barcelona vs. Sevilla: A Preview of the Copa del Rey Final
Ever since Atletico Madrid crashed out of the quarterfinals, the Barcelona/Sevilla match-up has looked like the most likely battle for the 2015/16 Copa del Rey championship match. Even though Celta Vigo was the football team that managed to upset Atletico, Sevilla are simply the stronger football club all around and the more worthy opponents for Barcelona.
Still, it’s tough to see a scenario here where Barcelona don’t end up on top of the podium. Barca’s fierce first-leg performance in the semis showed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Barcelona are the still the most impressive team in Spanish soccer. With Suarez and Messi both playing at the peak of their powers and Neymar seemingly always there to provide the assists (not to mention talent like Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal, both of whom also picked up assists in the first leg), there’s no reason to expect Barcelona to stop winning now.
To be fair, the final is still a long way away, and a lot could happen between now and then. The championship match is set for either May 21st or 22nd, with the venue still to be decided. Should Barcelona’s 2015/16 domestic campaign take a turn for the worst, or should one of their core three fall to an injury, Sevilla’s chances might improve.
To be fair, the Red and Whites actually beat Barcelona last fall—albeit, just after Messi’s knee injury—and put the Barca team through their paces at last year’s UEFA Super Cup game. That match saw Barca pull ahead 4-1 in the first 52 minutes of the game, but a late surge from Sevilla tied the game 4-4 and sent it into extra time. It wasn’t until the 115-mark that Pedro (who has now transferred to Chelsea) scored a game-winner for Barca.
Even then, the hard-fought victory left Barcelona’s stars battered and exhausted, setting the soccer squad up for a 0-4 loss against Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup. Barca went on to lose the trophy on an aggregate score of 1-5.
In any case, the 2015/16 Copa del Rey final should make for a good match. Barcelona are favored to win due to their recent success and their status as defending champions. Sevilla could certainly play the spoiler role, however.
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