Sevilla’s football club is the talk of the town. Now more than never as the team coached by Julen Lopetegui is dreaming of a first LaLiga title since 1946. And it should raise even more praise looking at the many obstacles being sorted out by the Andalusians.
In the last game against Celta de Vigo, Sevilla FC had the chance of putting themselves one point behind current league leaders, Real Madrid. But to the disappointment of their fans, Sevilla went 0-2 down to the dressing rooms, and the 30,000 souls in the stadium were hopeless of getting a good result back.
The mood went even lower when Celta’s forward Santi Mina almost scores the third goal, only for Brazilian center-back Diego Carlos to save the host’s pride. Few would have anticipated the importance of preventing this goal, as Alejandro “Papu” Gómez would later score a belter, and only two minutes after this goal, substitute Oliver Torres would level the score.
Suddenly, despair turned into hope, and Sevilla was close to knitting a third goal that would have caused an earthquake in the stadium. But the game ended 2-2 and even if the opportunity of getting closer to Real Madrid had gone through, the team was lauded for its character and willingness to fight back from a losing position.
So, if something was demonstrated on the last LaLiga round of fixtures is that Real Madrid can leave points behind, even against lower-ranked teams like Cádiz, and that Sevilla can manage to build enough momentum in order to fight for the title until the end.
Now fans all over the world are betting for the LaLiga title to be decided on the last games of the season and platforms like Asiabet.org are taking advantage of the sudden revival of the title race to offer promotions and bonuses to fans in foreign markets as far as in India to attract more users. Sevilla has recently opened footballing academies in the Asian country in an effort to internationalize their brand and the team’s popularity can be seen by the many bettors interested in the Spanish team in bookmakers.
It hasn’t been an easy season for the club. For the game against Celta, they had 10 players missing thru injury or booking partly due to a tough knockout match in midweek against bitter rivals, Real Betis. But the landscape has been the same throughout the whole season.
Last year’s top goalscorer, Moroccan Youssef En-Nesyri, hasn’t started a game since September due to injuries. And now that he has finally recovered, he is away in Cameroon representing his national team during the African Cup of Nations. Injuries are also tormenting the summer’s star signing of Erik Lamela since November. The same month when experienced right-back and club captain Jesus Navas picked up another injury. Then came December and another first team player got injured, the Spanish international, Suso. And now, French starlet Jules Koundé has been recovering all January from pain in the back.
This has led Sevilla to use up to 31 players this season in LaLiga, in between reserves and youngsters from the B team. This is the best proof that the club has had a tough time filling up the team sheet for every round of fixtures. Only Barcelona has used more players in the league.
Coach Julen Lopetegui is therefore looking forward to the FIFA international break to hope to recover a few players and give a much-needed break to many of his starters that have accumulated too many minutes.
With all these issues against them, Sevilla is still managing to keep up the rhythm of Spanish giants Real Madrid. Not even reigning champions Atlético de Madrid or Barcelona are still in the title race, with more than 15 points behind current leaders. So now more than ever, it’s a golden opportunity for Sevilla.
They remain the Spanish team with the fewest number of goals against in LaLiga with 16. They lost only 2 games in the league, one against Granada, and the other, away against Real Madrid, a game in which they went up 0-1 only to be beaten thanks to a Vinicius Jr. solo goal in the 87th minute.
Sevilla’s defensive solidity is held by the triangle of Diego Carlos, Jules Koundé, and Fernando who have been vital for the club this season. The three players bring a lot of physicality and balance to the team.
Fernando acts as the bridge between the defense and the creative midfielders, where another triangle is formed with Joan Jordan and Ivan Rakitic next to Fernando. Both creative players have laid their personalities to the team’s style of play. Past squads in Sevilla’s history were much more driven towards attack, but Lopetegui’s team is all about control, patience, and possession. Only FC Barcelona averages more than the 61% figure of possession by Sevilla.
The only downside of Sevilla’s game this season has been the attacking figures. With 34 goals in 22 games, they will need to step up in the goals production department if they want to really challenge Real Madrid for the title.
Many of Sevilla’s hopes are in the return of En-Nesyri from the AFCON, hoping that he can get back on the scoring numbers of last season when he netted 24 goals between LaLiga and the Champions League.
Sevilla’s board of directors are aware of the goal-scoring issues and they’ve managed to sign Anthony Martial on loan from Manchester United this winter. The French man could become a valuable offensive threat was he to return to his best level.
Hopes are also on Real Madrid’s crowded calendar to make them lose points in LaLiga. Champions League is coming back in February and a knockout stage against Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain could distract “Los Blancos” of their league duties.
Atletico de Madrid managed to win two leagues already in the past few years, all based on a defensive style of play, just like Sevilla, and even against better Real Madrid and Barcelona sides. Just another reason for Sevilla to keep believing in an upset. It would surely remain as the brightest point in their history.