As Sevilla prepare to face Bayern Munich on Thursday in the UEFA Super Cup on CBS Sports Network -- a battle between last season's Europa and Champions League winners -- the Spanish side is more than aware of the task at hand. Bayern, who overwhelmed the opposition last season by confidently winning the league, the domestic cup and the aforementioned Champions League trophy, are arguably the favorite in Budapest, but Sevilla striker Luuk de Jong is more than ready to face Goliath.
"For me, honestly, at this point, I think Bayern Munich is the best team in the world," the 30-year-old Dutch center forward told CBS Sports (full interview in the video above). "How I see them play as a team all together, pressing and defending, attacking it's like a machine, really.
"But I think in every game, you have chances, you have to believe that you have the chance to win the game. Even in the small moments and details in the game, you have to be ready and focused. Every game there will be opportunities. It's going to be really tough for sure, but we always have faith, just like what we did in the Europa League, so now hopefully we can do it in the Super Cup, but we'll see."
De Jong is right in praising Bayern Munich and the fact that history favors the German champions. In the last seven Super Cup clashes, six winners have come from the Champions League. But he uses Sevilla's Europa League campaign as a good example of beating the odds.
Sevilla, quite simply, is a darling of continental competition.
After beating Inter Milan last month in the Europa League final -- thanks to two wonderful headers from de Jong and a Romelu Lukaku own goal -- Sevilla earned their sixth UEL title and fourth in the past seven seasons. The aim as always is to win trophies and better yet if you can kickstart the new campaign with silverware.
"This is the start of the season and [Super Cup] is a trophy you can win so you have to go 100% for this. If there is a possibility to win trophies you always have to go for it, even if it's one game. It's the easiest way to win a trophy, just one game! If we can win this at the beginning of the season, it will be an amazing start."
De Jong is an interesting breed of center forward. In many ways, his technical ability is similar to an old-school archetype where governing the box and prioritizing set pieces is key -- similar to his compatriot Ruud van Nistelrooy or even Marco van Basten.
In the air, however, is where he truly shines, so it's no surprise to discover that his aerial prowess comes from his parents being professional volleyball players. "Part of my skills come from my parents' genes, of course," he said. "And because they were professional international volleyball players, I also grew up playing it -- learning the timing and everything -- and when I started playing soccer, I developed this skill and I can use it now. Me and my brother (FC Cincinnati's Siem de Jong) would play a lot growing up."
Whatever happens on Thursday, de Jong is happy at Sevilla under Julen Lopetegui, especially since they're playing Champions League soccer this season after finishing fourth in La Liga in 2019-2020. De Jong returns to the tournament after doing it with his former team PSV Eindhoven, but to him it might as well be his debut in the competition.
"It's always a dream of every player to play in the Champions League. It doesn't matter how many times, every season you start in the competition is an amazing feeling," he said. "These are the greatest games to play as a soccer player, to play against the best opponents in the highest level and if you can show your qualities at this stage, it's something you always want to do as a player. Hopefully we can manage to have a good journey."
Another Spanish team in the Champions League is Barcelona, looking to make amends after last season's disastrous campaign, followed by a tumultuous summer and Lionel Messi's desire to leave the club. In the end, Messi stayed and the Catalan club now have a new man in charge, Ronald Koeman, who is someone de Jong knows very well.
"I've worked with him in the national team for Holland and for us it's a pity that he left because we were doing really well," he said. "We had a tough moment, but then he came and built it up from the bottom. But he chose to leave us as I think his dream was to be the manager of Barcelona and I think they have a really good manager. He's technically really strong and how he wants to play. Some [managers] have their thoughts but they don't know how to bring it to the players but he does. I think they can be a really strong team with him as a manager."
For now, de Jong is solely concerned with Thursday and beating what he calls the best team in the world. He is calm but focused with the task at hand and thanks to his experience and Sevilla's grit, who knows, the Super Cup winner might end up in the hands of the underdog.
"I think anything is possible," de Jong said. "You have your dreams and you have to keep believing in them."