By Rodney Ballantine
There’s not many games now until the end of the season and for many teams the race is on to determine if the season has been up to expectations or if it has been a disappointment. The business end of the season is nearly complete, and teams are either fighting it out for the league title, Champion’s League places, Europa League places, mid table obscurity or trying to insure that they have a place with the big boys for next year.
Sevilla have not been threatening all season for the title, a claim nearly always taken in recent times in Spain by the big two, Real Madrid and Barcelona, nor have they threatened for Champions League places, which for them will have been a disappointment, after what has been a sort of lackluster season. The prize they want is that of a place in the Europa League, and what for me, would still be a great result for them.
Form has been patchy all season, with the early heights of first place from the first round of games being a deception, with the only way being down after that. The lowest place they have sunk to this season, being that of eleventh place, meant that early season aspirations had to be put on hold, and therefore the need to get a good run of games and accumulate some points, was of the upmost importance. Indeed they have hovered in and around eighth place this season with an improvement in performances and results beginning with the thirteenth game of the season, meaning that now it’s possible to salvage something this year.
Ten years ago, this would have been a good result for Sevilla, but times have changed, and with it, expectations. A lot has happened in the last decade, with UEFA Cup wins; top four place finishes and champions leagues outings. Of course Sevilla are a lot different team from then, faces are changing, as with it team results, and it remains to be seen if the current manager Gregorio Manzano is the man to bring back the not so distant glory days. Rumor has it that Claude Puel (manager of Lyon, France) or Luis Enrique (manager of Barcelona B) are two of the candidates waiting to take over for next season.
First up at the weekend was a difficult fixture against a Real Madrid team that seems to play better away from home, mostly due to their counter attacking style. This was to prove a tough fixture with los “merengues” running out 6 – 2 with another impressive away performance. There are still three games left in the league, and a Europe League place is more than possible and if a miracle (of super proportions) occurs then Champion League football could be a possibility, although this is practically impossible.
Of the three games, two are away from home, with them having to play first Osasuna, and the last game of the season against a Espanyol team that up until not so long ago, had a record at home which was as good as Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Sandwiched in between is the home fixture against Real Sociedad. Seven points from these games should mean that they will be playing Europa League football this season, but as always at this stage, there are no easy games, and more than playing football, more than often it depends on the desire and fight of the team involved. Let’s hope Sevilla can produce this aspect which they have been lacking all season, and get back to the type of level they have enjoyed and which has been highly successful for them over the last ten years.