Barcelona look for King’s Cup victory to get over Champions League pain

Two late goals from Lionel Messi ensured Barcelona got a point the last time they faced Sevilla.
Updated 19 April 2018
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Barcelona look for King’s Cup victory to get over Champions League pain

  • Barca looking to get over their shock 3-0 loss to Roma in the Champions League
  • Lionel Messi and Co come up against a dangerous Sevilla side in King's Cup final

Barcelona will target a record-extending 30th King’s Cup triumph when they play Sevilla in Saturday’s final which would also virtually assure them of a second domestic double in three seasons, reinforcing their dominance in Spain.
A victory for Barca in the first final at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid would also go some way toward healing the wounds from their — by their standards — catastrophic failure in the Champions League.
The team’s rampant run toward a 25th Liga title while staying unbeaten has been overshadowed by their devastating 3-0 defeat to AS Roma, which saw them exit Europe’s top competition on away goals after blowing a 4-1 lead from the first leg.
It has also harmed coach Ernesto Valverde’s reputation in an otherwise impeccable first season in charge.
Valverde was even criticized in some sections of the Catalan press in the aftermath of their European exit for taking the King’s Cup too seriously, with some blaming his team’s embarrassment in Rome on his reluctance to rotate his squad.
Barca’s third successive European failure will be all the harder to swallow should Real Madrid go on to win the Champions League for a third season in a row, although the Catalans’ domestic achievements are impressive in their own right.
If Barca beat Sevilla, they will become the first team since the Spanish Civil War started to win the cup four years in a row, and thereby almost certainly seal the club’s eighth domestic double.
Standing in their way are a hugely unpredictable Sevilla side who have endured a series of humiliating defeats in the league under coach Vincenzo Montella but who tend to come into their own on the biggest of occasions.
Sevilla knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League, dumped Atletico Madrid out of the King’s Cup and came within a minute of beating Barca in the league before the Catalans fought back from two goals down after 87 minutes to draw 2-2.
“We don’t have any fear. We’ll try and use our weapons as best we can and ensure that they don’t feel comfortable at all in any stage of the game,” Sevilla midfielder Pablo Sarabia told reporters ahead of the final.
“We have to be as aggressive as we can. It’s a beautiful chance for us to win a trophy. We have to remind ourselves of the good things we’ve done this season.
“We have not been consistent in the league but in the Champions League we made history and in the cup we have a chance to lift a trophy.”
There is an outside chance Barcelona could be crowned Liga champions the day after the final, if second-placed Atletico Madrid lose to Real Sociedad on Thursday and are beaten at home by Real Betis on Sunday.
Real Madrid, currently third, were due to play against Sevilla this weekend but the game has been postponed because of the King’s Cup final, while fourth-placed Valencia visit Celta Vigo on Saturday.


Saudi football chief quits, eyes Asia’s top job

Updated 18 August 2018
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Saudi football chief quits, eyes Asia’s top job

RIYADH: Saudi Football Federation chief Adel Ezzat resigned on Saturday, expressing his intention to run for the presidency of the Asian Football Confederation.
“I presented to (Saudi sports authority chief) Turki Al-Sheikh... my resignation from my position as of today,” Ezzat told a Saudi sports broadcaster.
“I will begin preparing... for elections of the Asian Football Confederation, which will be held next year.”
Ezzat’s deputy Nawaf Al-Timyat has been named the Saudi federation’s interim chief until fresh elections are held.
Ezzat was last week elected as the first president of the South West Asian Football Federation, a new regional bloc of federations comprising 14 nations.
The kingdom has long been a marginal player in football’s ruling classes, unlike its Gulf rival Qatar — set to host the 2022 World Cup — with which it is embroiled in a year-long diplomatic spat.
But the oil-rich kingdom is in the midst of a major push for global influence in football governance.