Preview: Sevilla vs. Independiente del Valle

Preview: Sevilla vs. Independiente del Valle

The inaugural UEFA CONMEBOL Club Challenge showdown takes place at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Wednesday evening, as Sevilla welcome Independiente del Valle to their headquarters.

A second-tier intercontinental Super Cup, the one-off contest will pit the Europa League winners against the reigning Copa Sudamericana champions with an early piece of silverware on the line.

No matter how much they flattered to deceive in the 2022-23 La Liga campaign – even flirting with relegation until Jose Luis Mendilibar steadied the ship – Sevilla still possess all the ingredients to conjure up their remarkable recipe for success in the Europa League, clinching a record-extending seventh crown in the continent’s secondary tournament last term.

Dinamo Zagreb, West Ham United, Fenerbahce, Manchester United and Juventus all tried and failed to quell the Sevilla juggernaut before Jose Mourinho’s Roma lied in wait in the final, as the Portuguese sought to channel every inch of his silverware-winning specialities in Budapest.

However, after a Gianluca Mancini own goal cancelled out a Paulo Dybala opener, Sevilla held their nerve in the penalty shootout, where Argentinian hero Gonzalo Montiel – who scored the winning penalty in the World Cup final – made lightning strike twice with the title-clinching conversion from 12 yards.

Unsavoury post-match scenes soon dominated the headlines, though, as Mourinho gave referee Anthony Taylor an earful before the official and his family were disgracefully accosted at an airport by furious Roma fans, but all the while, Sevilla were revelling in yet another wonderful continental triumph – one which sealed their spot in the Champions League group stages.

A 12th-placed finish in La Liga therefore paled into insignificance for Mendilibar’s side, who have already seen off Cordoba 2-0 in their opening friendly of the summer and can also look ahead to a UEFA Super Cup showdown with Manchester City in a few weeks’ time.

Several months before Sevilla continued their spate of Europa League dominance, Independiente del Valle lifted the Copa Sudamericana crown aloft for just the second time in their history, collecting their first such honour in 2019 and teaching Sao Paulo a footballing lesson to regain their crown.

Taking on the revered Brazilian side at Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes, the Ecuadorian powerhouses sealed their continental crown with a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Lautaro Diaz and Lorenzo Faravelli either side of the break, before also defeating Copa Libertadores champions Flamengo on penalties in the Recopa Sudamericana – South America’s version of the UEFA Super Cup.

The step-up to Copa Libertadores football this year has not fazed Independiente either, as they eased to a first-placed finish in Group E over Argentinos Juniors, Corinthians and Liverpool to progress to the last 16, and their domestic dominance is showing no signs of waning either.

Indeed, Martin Anselmi’s men comfortably finished in first place during the opening phase of the 2023 Ecuadorian Serie A season, taking 34 points from 15 games, thereby already confirming qualification for the 2024 Copa Libertadores and a spot in the domestic finals.

Ahead of the second phase of their top-flight campaign – which begins next month – Independiente take on Colombian side Deportivo Pereira in the last 16 of the Copa Libertadores, but a recent warm-up friendly against the Orlando Pirates of South Africa ended in a 3-1 beating.

Sevilla friendly form:

Independiente del Valle form (all competitions):

We say: Sevilla 2-0 Independiente del Valle
Independiente have experienced few difficulties in seeing off their South American foes recently, but the Copa Sudamericana winners should be brought crashing back down to earth by their Spanish counterparts.

With Mendilibar’s men also vying for glory in front of their own fans, Los Palanganas should not need to get out of second gear to come up trumps in this inaugural affair, adding another trophy to their brimming cabinet in the process.

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