Ivan Rakitic believes Barcelona is in good shape to begin the season with victory in the UEFA Super Cup over his former club Sevilla.
Spain’s strength in European club football was underlined by the respective successes of Barca and Sevilla in the Champions League and Europa League finals at the end of last season.
Sevilla defended the title with a 3-2 victory over Dnipro, while Barca completed the treble thanks to a 3-1 triumph over Juventus.
Barca has recent experience of glory on this occasion, with victories in 2011 and 2009, although the club was defeated 3-0 by Sevilla in the 2006 showpiece.
Rakitic, who moved to Camp Nou from Sevilla in 2014, believes the Catalan giant can enjoy a repeat of 2009, when the club lifted six trophies.
“Nobody wants to do that more than we do,” he said. “But we have to take things each step at a time. And the first chance is on Tuesday in Tbilisi. We are confident in ourselves and in our strengths. We’ll work even harder than we did last year. But we know that there will be hard times this season too.
“We’ve got a strong team and I just try to be myself. I like taking on responsibilities, as I have done at all the clubs I’ve played for. My role won’t change because Xavi has gone. I am Rakitic and I provide my own virtues.”
Barca will be without Neymar, who has been diagnosed with mumps, while Adriano, Douglas, and Jordi Alba are all injured.
Sevilla’s Michael Krohn-Dehli, a fresh arrival from Celta Vigo in the offseason, concedes his side is the underdog, and that Tuesday’s clash may come too soon for all the new signings to gel.
“Maybe yes, maybe no. We will find out after the game,” he said. “It’s true that with so many new players we need a bit of time to adapt and get to know each other. In any case, we are ready to go out and play well and we want to win.
“They [Barca] have won the league, the cup and the Champions League. However, last season as a Celta player I was able to win at Camp Nou. In a game you always have a chance.”