We’ll probably say this around 6 more times from now to the end of the season, but this game is probably the biggest game of the rest of the season. Currently, these two teams and Atleti are tied on 38 points and the winner of this game takes sole position of 6th and potentially rises to 5th; the loser could fall to 8th. Additionally, with Villarreal’s loss yesterday we can cut the distance to CL to 9 points with 11 games, which still feels unlikely, but less so than the situation we were in just a couple days ago.
Of course, standing in our way is a formidable foe in the Lions from Bilbao, a quality foe who deserves their position on the strength of their play all season. Llorente has quietly been putting together an impressive season as Pichichi of people not playing for the big two, scoring 15 goals in 26 games–a strike rate that would be awe-inspiring if it weren’t overshadowed by Sir Shoots-a-Lot and the little dribbler from Argentina. Plus he’s seemingly always about two seconds from scoring (seriously–Negredo on the break off a chest pass from Rakitic might seem like an unlikely time for Llorente to score, but he’s probably thinking “Yeeeeeees. Right where I want them!”)
Plus, you know, there’s our defense.
Anyway, we have a pretty strong 18 on the list today, but we’re lacking Sanchez, who’s been having some medical weirdness that I don’t fully understand, and for whatever reason Zokora’s not in the 18 today (was he injured and I just don’t remember?). Other than that I don’t see anyone we’ll be dying without. Perotti was thought to be out today earlier this week due to an injury, but he’s fine and projected to start. It’s been a full month since we had a week between games, so fatigue may be a factor today against a very physical squad–we’ll see how we hold up against a good opponent in a raucous stadium.
BIG GAME. VAMOS MI SEVILLA.