Barcelona, Sevilla Brace for Copa Del Rey Final Showdown

The two La Liga powers will play at Atletico Madrid's Estadio Wanda Metropolitano for the right to lift the trophy.
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Barcelona take on Sevilla in a mouthwatering Copa del Rey Final showdown at Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.

The meeting between the two heavyweights will undoubtedly be the talk of Spain this weekend. Both sides will feel they each have much to prove heading into the showpiece event, and claiming this piece of silverware would provide a major lift to either side's faltering ends to the season.

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Barcelona's last five games have rather told the story of their season to date. A 4-1 Champions League romp at home to Roma in the first leg of their quarter final tie seemed to be putting them well on course for their customarily expected semi final place. 

Followed by a 3-1 league win over Leganes, strengthening their position as rampant league leaders, it seemed as though Barca were in line for another all-conquering campaign.

A 3-0 defeat away in Rome in the second leg of their quest for European glory sent them crashing out of the Champions League in heartbreaking fashion. 

A less convincing 2-1 win at home to Valencia in the league followed, and a 2-2 draw away to Celta Vigo, in which Barca twice surrendered the lead to drop two points, have left something of a cloud over the Catalan club at present. Victory on Saturday would alter the complexion and appease the current grumblings confronting Messi and co.

Sevilla's previous outings make for rather bleaker reading from their perspective. A quarter-final first leg defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League initiated the downward spiral. 

A crushing 4-0 league defeat away to Celta Vigo began to hammer the nail in, before their elimination from Europe was sealed through a 0-0 draw with Bayern in the second leg. 

Two consecutive draws in the league have followed, a dramatic 2-2 at home to Villarreal, in which both sides had a player sent off, followed by a 0-0 stalemate away to Deportivo. 

Confidence is surely low in the Sevilla camp heading into Saturday night, but pulling off an upset and beating Barcelona in a cup final would create a very different atmosphere around Seville.

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Previous Encounter

If Sevilla are to produce a cup-winning performance on Saturday, it will depend largely on them keeping the Barcelona attack quiet, while being efficient on the counterattack in a game which they are likely to see little possession, and taking any chances that fall their way.

They very nearly got it right when the sides last met at the end of March in a league clash. Storming into a 2-0 lead and keeping Barca out for large parts of the game, it seemed to be Vincenzo Montella's day. His side faltered at the last hurdle, however, conceding two quickfire goals in the last two minutes of the game to cruelly rob the Sevillistas of a huge victory.

Unsurprisingly, Suarez and Messi were the difference in sealing an unlikely late point for Barcelona, and Sevilla must maintain great discipline and concentration over the full 90 minutes if they are to halt Barca's superstar strike duo.

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Key Battle:

Luis Suarez vs Clement Lenglet

What is for sure is that Lionel Messi, on his day and very often on the big stage, is unstoppable. Much of Sevilla's hope of stopping Barca's striking stars from running riot on Saturday could rest on their ability to limit Luis Suarez's time and space on the ball. 

Stopping Suarez from entering into full flow could not only help to stifle the Uruguayan's threat to Sevilla's goal, but also limit his ability to create the space and time to open up opportunities for Messi to exploit. The two South American strikers play very much in tandem with one another, and stopping one could be key to stopping both. Failure to do so could result in the two combining to devastating effect.

Much of these responsibilities will lie with Sevilla defender Clement Lenglet, who has recently been linked with a summer move to his opponents on Saturday by various outlets. Arguably Sevilla's strongest defensive figure, his ability to track the movement of Suarez and keep him quiet could prove crucial to the Frenchman's side's success.

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Team News

Barcelona will be without first choice right back Sergi Roberto for the match, who is suspended following the red card shown to the Spaniard in Barca's 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo on Tuesday. Nelson Semedo is likely to deputize in Roberto's absence. 

Ivan Rakitic was missing from action in that midweek draw, as he has been suffering with a fractured finger. It is likely that Ernesto Valverde will be keen to call upon one Rakitic as one of his first choice midfielders. 

Sergi Samper remains absent through a longer term injury problem, while Jasper Cillessen is likely to start ahead of first choice goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, as the Dutchman has played every minute of Barca's Copa del Rey campaign so far this season.

Vincenzo Montella will be without defenders Sebastien Corchia and Simon Kjaer. Corchia remains sidelined with a groin injury, while Kjaer continues to struggle with a knee problem. Sevilla are likely to make a number of changes to the side which drew 0-0 with Deportivo on Tuesday, in which Montella rested several of his key men ahead of the cup final.

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Predicted Lineups

Barcelona (4-4-2): Cillessen/Semedo, Pique, Umtiti, Alba/Coutinho, Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta/Messi, Suarez

Sevilla (4-2-3-1): Sergio Rico/Navas, Mercado, Lenglet, Escudero/Banega, N'Zonzi/Sarabia, Vazquez, Correa/Muriel

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Although Sevilla arguably need victory on Saturday more than Barcelona in terms of achieving any true success this season, Barcelona's exit from the Champions League has left La Liga champions-elect a wounded lion, and the Valverde's side will be desperate to soften that European blow by clinching the cup to complete a domestic double. 

Though Sevilla are capable of showing grit and will not go down without a fight, Barca should ultimately have enough quality to lift the trophy.

Score Prediction: Barcelona 3-1 Sevilla