Sevilla enter their match Sunday with a fantastic and, of late, familiar opportunity to continue their incredible rise up the table in recent weeks: from 12th place just four weeks ago, the team will begin the match in 8th with a chance to move even higher. 6th place Osasuna lost in fantastically lopsided fashion to Rayo today, and 5th place Levante hosts 7th place Atlético in the early game Sunday. The Osasuna loss plus basically any Levante-Atleti result and a Sevilla win would see los Nervionses move into European spots, a feat which seemed impossible (or possible, but entirely improbable) just a month ago. These are the benefits of the mediocrity of La Liga in 2012, I guess.
Of course, Sevilla didn’t get on this hot streak by talking about how great it’d be to win. No, they’re winning because this blog has been successfully engaging in reverse psychology with Fate herself. So, to our old friend Fate, I say we can’t possibly win this game. Behold:
- Bilbao is playing some very impressive soccer right now as they storm through the Europa, and hardly had to expend themselves at all at midweek to dispatch Schalke 04. They’ll be fresh and full of momentum.
- We’re visiting one of the more hostile stadia in Spain.
- Bielsa! Llorente! Iraola! OH MY!
- Perotti’s season of misery, injury, and rarely playing stepped up a notch with yesterday’s announcement that he’s going to have back surgery for a herniated disk, so he’s obviously out.
- What’s that you say? “No problem, Reyes has been great lately”? Well, to your optimism I say: STRAINED ADDUCTOR. Not playing tomorrow! Don’t even ask about Spahic (still out injured) or Baba (still inexplicably disappeared from the face of the earth). I’m not sure what these injuries will mean in terms of lineup, but if I had to guess I’d say the only dangerous creative players on the field at the start tomorrow will be Negredo, Navas, and Manu.
So…yeah. All doomsaying aside, this is a legitimately difficult match. The last three games (Racing, Granada, Mallorca) were all games we SHOULD have won, and were particularly delightful simply because we have so often fallen apart against lesser opposition this year. Sunday’s match AT Bilbao is an entirely different beast (a lion, for example). Athletic have (in my opinion) a world-class coach, several world-class players, and are a team on the rise whose position in the table (12) is more an indication of how badly they need this game than their quality this year. I would obviously be ecstatic to see our recent run of wins continue, but would realistically be totally content with a tie, and certainly won’t be covering my head in ashes if we lose.
WHICH WE DEFINITELY WILL, RIGHT GUYS?!?