SEVILLA HAD ANOTHER FINE SEASON BUT IT COULD HAVE ENDED IN MUCH MORE SUCCESS

The 2019-20 season went pretty much how would have wanted. Under new manager Julen Lopetegui, the Andalusian side qualified for the Champions League and of course, won the Europa League. That triumph marked the sixth time have won the competition, a record. Going into the new season with no fans, would have expected to do better on those performances.

 

 

They made some important and smart signings including former midfielder Ivan Rakitic, dynamic creative talents Suso and Oscar Rodriguez while also making goalkeeper’s Yassine Bounou’s loan deal permanent. The addition of Atalanta man Alejandro Gomez in January only further solidified the team. In hindsight, Sevilla can be happy with how they performed this season.

 

SEASON SUMMARY

Sevilla started their campaign with two back-to-back wins against Cadiz and Levante respectively. However, they immediately ran into turbulence after that. One point from their next four matches left them languishing 16th in the table. Thankfully, the club managed to right the ship quickly by winning five of their next six. That kind of topsy-turvy form was one of the constants for the club this season.

 

 

Lopetegui and co. even came close to challenging for the La Liga crown at a time. Those hopes were quickly extinguished after only two wins from their final four games saw them finish fourth. Sevilla secured Champions League football once again with a 17 point cushion over fifth-place Real Sociedad and the third best defence in the league. However, this season could have been even better for the club with the possibility of finishing as high as second wasted through that poor end.

 

 

If the league felt like a chance missed, the was a proper heartbreak. Sevilla won the first leg of their semi-final against Barcelona 2-0 at home. The second leg was an altogether different affair. The Blaugrana took the match to extra-time after scoring their second goal in the fourth minute of injury time. Barcelona scored another in the following 30 minutes to knock Sevilla out in the most excruciating circumstances.

 

 

In Europe, Sevilla lost the UEFA Super Cup 2-1 against Bayern Munich after taking the lead once again. Like the Copa del Rey, the match went to extra-time where the Bavarians scored again. The Champions League saw something of an unusuality for the club. They managed to finish second in their group and QUALIFY to the round-of-16, which meant no Europa League.

 

 

However, they were promptly eliminated by Borussia Dortmund 5-4 on aggregate to leave some fans wondering what if they had finished third once again. One has to wonder whether actually moving past the group stage put them into uncharted waters.

 

 

La Liga: 4th

Champions League: Round of 16

Copa del Rey: Semi-finals

UEFA Super: Runners-up

 

BEST PERFORMANCE

SEVILLA 1-0 ATLETICO MADRID (LA LIGA)

 

Sevilla welcomed the league leaders to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in a pivotal clash. Though Diego Simeone’s side had won 2-0 back in January, this was a different scenario. While Atletico were looking to maintain their gap at the top, Sevilla wanted to solidify their own championship credentials. The hosts started brightly and even had a penalty saved in the opening ten minutes.

 

 

Their dominance continued in the second half with a goal in the 70th minute. 35-year-old Jesus Navas’ chipped cross was headed in by left-back Marcos Acuna. The Spaniard was adjudged man-of-the-match and while Atletico had a good chance in the final minute, Bounou’s brilliant save ensured all three points remained in Andalusia. Though it would do little to affect the final standings, this was a real statement of intent by Lopetegui’s side this season.

 

Honourable mentions: Sevilla 2-1 Barcelona (Copa del Rey SF first leg), Real Madrid 2-2 Sevilla

 

WORST PERFORMANCE

BARCELONA 3-0 SEVILLA (COPA DEL REY)

Winning 2-0 and then losing 3-0 over two legs of a semi-final. Fate does not get crueler than this. Sevilla must have felt a strong sense of confidence going to Camp Nou. The match was immediately off to a bad start as Barcelona took the lead in the 12th minute. Lucas Ocampos’ penalty was saved for the visitors who entered the 90th minute still 2-1 up on aggregate. Things only got worse in the next 10 minutes. First, midfielder Fernando was sent off for a second bookable offence. Then Gerard Pique nodded home an equaliser with the last kick of normal time to break hearts and add on an additional thirty minutes.

 

 

Five minutes into that, Martin Braithwaite scored for the hosts to put them 3-2 up on aggregate. Further trouble followed with Luuk De Jong being red-carded after an altercation with the referee. The match ended 3-0 to Barcelona, allowing them to progress. Meanwhile, all Sevilla had for their toils were four yellow cards, two sending offs and a missed spot-kick.

 

(dis)Honourable Mentions: Villareal 4-0 Sevilla, Sevilla 0-1 Eibar

 

THE SEASON MVP 

YOUSSEF EN-NESYRI

There would have been no 4th placed finish for Sevilla without En-Nesyri. The Moroccan scored 18 goals in the league, his single season high ever. For context, their next highest scorer Lucas Ocampos had five goals. En-Nesyri also had a further six in the Champions League to end a highly prolific first full season with the Andalusians. His pace and supreme prowess inside the box was a real handful for opponents all season long.

 

 

The 24-year-old also had two hat-tricks this season with a direct goal involvement P90 of 0.70. Furthermore, 2020-21 saw both his shots P90 (3.04) and chances created P90 (0.54) go up considerably. Though big offers are certain to arrive for the striker this transfer window, En-Nesyri has proven himself to be a top-rated striker who can play at any club.

 

Honourable Mentions: Yassine Bounou, Jules Kounde

 

BIGGEST UNDERACHIEVER

ALEIX VIDAL

It has been a tough few years for the Spaniard. Having suffered a horrific injury while at Barcelona in 2017, he returned to Sevilla in 2018. However, Julien Lopetegui’s arrival at the club in 2019 saw him being loaned out to Alaves last year. The right-back played in 29 games, racking up two goals and four assists. His return to his parent club has been a big letdown though. Vidal appeared in only 12 matches in La Liga, starting five.

 

 

Vidal had no goal contributions in this period. Furthermore, he had no appearances in August, September and October, while just one in November. He suffered a hamstring problem in Sevilla’s 3-0 loss to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey, which saw him spend almost two months out. Vidal played the full 90 minutes against Alaves in their last match of the season, and his future remains uncertain with the club.

 

(dis)Honourable Mentions: Sergio Escudero, Karim Rekik

 

CONCLUSION

For most parts, it has been a satisfactory season for Sevilla. Their aim of finishing in the top four was achieved. However, the cup competitions were a case of so-near-yet-so-far. Their semi-final loss against Barcelona and Champions League exit to Dortmund would have felt like winnable ties. With most key players expected to remain, the club can look forward to challenging domestic prizes once more. Of course, if they finish third in their Champions League group…what can happen next will be anybody’s guess.

 

FINAL GRADE: B

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