The first European silverware of the season is up for grabs on Wednesday when Champions League winners Manchester City face Europa League winners Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup, Reelradio.com.ng reports.
Can the underdogs end their losing run?
This will be the 48th edition of the UEFA Super Cup and 27 of the previous winners have been the Champions League/European Cup holders.
The last Europa League holders to lift the trophy were Atlético de Madrid in 2018, and the two before that were also Atleti in 2010 and 2012.
Serial Europa League winners Sevilla have so far featured in this final six times but after beating Barcelona on their debut in 2006, they have lost their last five Super Cup appearances, most recently losing to Bayern Munich in 2020.
This is of course City’s Super Cup debut, but they have met Sevilla four times in UEFA competition previously and won all four, including a double in last season’s Champions League group stage.
It seems the odds are stacked against Sevilla heading into this one, but they will probably feel like they are due a win.
What will City’s midfield look like?
After snapping his hamstring in June’s Champions League final, it was something of a surprise to see Kevin De Bruyne starting for City in Friday’s Premier League opener at Burnley.
And the Belgian limping off early in the first half at Turf Moor suggested his comeback might have been premature.
De Bruyne faces up to four months on the sidelines and hasn’t travelled to Athens, while Bernardo Silva also misses out due to a minor injury, meaning Pep Guardiola may be forced to experiment with his midfield options.
With Rodri a certainty to start in the holding role, summer signing Mateo Kovačić will likely take up one of the number eight positions having impressed in his two competitive appearances for the club so far.
And could Phil Foden line up alongside the Croatian in a central role? Foden has primarily been used as a winger for City with Guardiola reportedly having concerns about the 23-year-old’s defensive discipline when deployed centrally, but he did make an impact after coming on for De Bruyne in the Champions League final and the Super Cup could offer a great opportunity to show his manager what he’s capable of.
Elsewhere, summer arrival Joško Gvardiol could be in line for his first start, and it will be interesting to see how seriously Guardiola approaches the Super Cup given City have a tough Premier League encounter with Newcastle to come on Saturday.
Have Sevilla turned a corner?
Last season was a strange one for Sevilla.
A dismal start which saw them win just one of their first 10 matches saw coach Julen Lopetegui out of the door in early October, with Jorge Sampaoli brought back to the club to replace him.
Sampaoli fared slightly better than his predecessor but 13 wins from 31 matches also saw him leaving the Rojiblancos after just five months in charge.
And then it was José Luis Mendilibar who became the club’s third manager of the season. The 62-year-old hit the ground running, masterminding a Europa League quarter-final triumph over Manchester United inside his first handful of games before going on to win the competition for the seventh time in the club’s history, overcoming Juventus in the semis and then Roma in the final.
That positive finish to the campaign means despite finishing 12th in the league, Sevilla are back in the Champions League this term and the only way is up.
However, a quiet summer transfer window followed by a home defeat to Valencia in Friday’s LaLiga opener have dampened the pre-season optimism somewhat, and Mendilibar will be hoping losing doesn’t become a habit again this season.
The result of Wednesday’s game won’t define Sevilla’s season, but a good performance will go a long way towards their self-esteem.