Vincenzo Montella believes Lionel Messi’s talents are otherworldly but insists his Sevilla side have a chance against Barcelona in Saturday’s Copa del Rey final.
Sevilla face Barcelona at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium looking to avenge the 2016 final, when they were beaten 2-0 after extra time by the Catalans.
Barcelona are the defending champions having won the cup in each of the previous three seasons and are firm favourites to extend that run.
But while Montella accepts Sevilla’s status as an underdog, the Italian believes his side are capable of causing an upset if they focus on their own game and attempt to deny Messi possession as much as possible.
‘Barcelona are a great team, as we have seen in La Liga,’ Montella, who joined Sevilla in December replacing Eduardo Berizzo. ‘They have almost won it, so they are favourites.
‘But we have to think about ourselves and our attitude and quality and skills. We have to think how to face Barcelona that way.
‘I also think that Messi is an alien. I hope he will be that high tomorrow instead of on the Earth. We have to try to avoid him receiving the ball.
‘We’ve seen that it is possible to win against Barcelona, but for this to happen we have to be focused throughout the whole game and not lose concentration at any moment.
‘I’m hoping for a balanced game, one that will be decided by smaller details, keeping us in the running.’
In their previous meeting between the two sides, Messi and Luis Suarez scored 88th and 89th-minute goals as Barcelona salvaged a late draw at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Messi has netted 39 goals in 49 appearances in all competitions this season and Barcelona are on course to go the entire La Liga campaign unbeaten.
Sevilla meanwhile sit in seventh place in the table after a disappointing campaign, 17 points off the Champions League qualification places.