Africa may be unfamiliar surroundings for Barcelona – but they will glimpse the familiar sight of silverware should everything go according to plan against Sevilla on Sunday night.
Barca officially kick off their domestic season in Tangier, Morocco, where they face Sevilla in the Supercopa de Espana.
The Blaugrana thrashed the Andalusians 5-0 when they met in the Copa del Rey final last season but Gerard Pique is not about to underestimate them – while Sevilla coach Pablo Machin insists any thoughts of revenge won’t help his side.
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Sunday’s Spanish Super Cup final may not go ahead after Sevilla threatened to pull out of the match if Barcelona field more than three non-EU players.
The Spanish football federation had placed no restrictions on the use of players from outside the EU for the fixture, which is different to La Liga, in which teams are only allowed to include three per squad.
The Blaugrana’s trio of new signings: Malcom, Arturo Vidal and Arthur – three non-EU players – are likely to feature in the final, changed to a single match rather than a two-legged affair as in previous years, while defender Marlon has also travelled to Tangier, Morocco.
Playmaker Philippe Coutinho is a non-EU star, too, however, he has reportedly acquired a passport through his wife this summer.
Given that all these names could play, that has led to Sevilla threatening to withdraw from the showpiece.
The Andalusia club issued a statement, saying: “Sevilla FC is surprised by the RFEF’s announcement 24 hours before the Super Cup.
“It has said that as many non-EU players as desired can be registered. In their last statement for the 2018/2019 season, only three were due to be allowed, without exception.
“The club’s legal department is studying the matter and should FC Barcelona line up with more than three non-EU players, it would present possible ground for withdrawal due to an improper line-up.”
Barcelona have propped up this year’s International Champions Cup table after a series of high-profile friendlies this summer between 18 of the biggest clubs in Europe.
Blaugrana recorded just two points from their three pre-season run-outs stateside, drawing their opener against Tottenham last month (before winning on penalties) and going down 4-2 to Serie A Roma in Texas.
An injury-time strike by AC Milan’s Andre Silva then sunk them in their final match.
It has to be said though that Barca’s work in the US heat was mainly done without a clutch of first-team stars, including Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, just two of several players who were afforded longer breaks after the World Cup.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid finished sixth.
Check out the full standings below:
What a tournament it has been! Congratulations, @SpursOfficial, you are this year’s International Champions Cup winners! 🏆🙌
— International Champions Cup (@IntChampionsCup) August 11, 2018