Celta – Sevilla Match Comments

Sevilla are, as you may have heard, on an unprecedented run of form in La Liga: six consecutive wins, the most in the history of the club. More than in the year they won a title, more than any of the glory seasons of the early ’00s, and more than some random run of fortunate results in any of the times between, this is has been a historic run for our heroes. And while that run has certainly involved some impressive results (2–1 Real Madrid, obviously, and 1–0 Real Sociedad), and some sparkling individual performances (Rakitic’s heel, Bacca’s goals, Fazio not being terrible), as I look back on those performances I think the most striking thing about all of those games is how unremarkable they were. Allow me to explain: at no point in the past 2 months have I thought “wow, this team is really playing above their level”. At no point have I wondered at Emery’s ability to create a sum so much greater than its individual parts. That’s not to say Emery hasn’t done a great job, but rather–this team is playing exactly how well a team of these players should be playing. Six straight wins is of course a significant achievement, and any team would rightly be thrilled to produce these results, and Sevilla and their fans should be as well. But I’m just saying, this team, with these players…they might not keep winning like this, but I can’t think of a reason they shouldn’t be able to keep playing like this.

Last weekend’s results saw Sevilla rise to 5th in the table, but of course the magic number is actually six: not just those previously mentioned consecutive wins, but more importantly the six points that currently separate Sevilla from Bilbao and the last Champion’s League spot. Where perhaps a month ago it seemed downright insane to think of our chances of cheering on our team in Europe’s foremost competition next year, now you need a reality check if you’re not doing some mental math. Shortly after Sevilla’s game vs. mid-table Celta concludes on Saturday, Bilbao takes the field against current league leaders Atlético. If the favorites in those two matches get all three points, Bilbao will have seen their once unassailable 8 point cushion dwindle to 3 in a calendar week. Suddenly Sevilla’s April 27th visit to Bilbao looks like it could be not simply a chance to cut distances but to overtake the 4th place spot. Dizzying, heady stuff for a team that’s suffered from inconsistent form for long stretches of this campaign.

Let’s hope the players and coaching staff are doing exactly 0% of the mental math I’ve just indulged in, though. Because tomorrow, when they take the field at Celta Vigo, the important number isn’t 4th or 5th place, or the 6 points to Bilbao and the Champions League promised land, it’s 7. Let’s go get that 7th straight win.