Chillax Everyone: Sevilla 0 – Barca 2

Well.  Over the last week, we’ve been forced to swallow two bitter pills.  And unless you’re among the most optimistic (or delusional) of us here, you should probably expect a third bitter pill on its way in a few days.  So, after having won every pre-season match we played, facing off against eternal objects of disdain, Real Madrid and Barcelona, is serving as a bit of a reality check.  News flash:  They’re better than us.

To be honest, even in our string of pre-season wins there were some troubling signs.  The moments of free-flowing, possession-dominating, high-pressing football were undoubtedly there.  But they were also mixed in with stretches of looking like a half-drunk blob after you’d cut its head off and put it on the spin cycle in your dryer.  Of course, that proverbial “head” cut more pointedly be referred to as Krychowiak, Banega, and Gameiro.  Players who we all miss badly in their respective positions.

But should we despair?  Is this season a loss?  Are we all suddenly diving off the Sampaoli bandwagon.  Let’s have just a little bit of perspective please.

The guys in this photo are not laughing at us.  I guarantee that a lot of Barca players came away from the match and won’t forget just how unpleasant that first half was for them before Escudero got injured.  They are well aware that possession was 50/50 at half.  And I guarantee you they are not looking forward to a return to the RSP during the season.  For stretches against both Real Madrid and in this first leg against Barcelona, we’ve looked damn good.  We looked like a team that could steamroll lesser opposition and make the biggest teams in the world very uncomfortable and nervous.  No, we didn’t get a result out of either of them, but look at our damn lineup!  Who was even on this team a few months ago?

Vietto looked weak and useless, Kranevitter looked weak-er and useless-er.  I share in a lot of peoples’ frustration that we brought these guy in on loan and don’t understand why Cristoforo wasn’t given more of a chance.  But they’re here now, and its WAY too early to give up hope that these highly regarded players won’t be able to make large contributions by the end of the season.

Remember how we vilified N’zonzi calling him too slow, sloppy, and uncontrolled early last season?  Well now we’re dreading what happens if Monaco swoop for him.  Remember back when we were unconvinced by Vitolo and might have preferred hanging onto Jairo?  Well, now we’re terrified someone will pay his 25 million Euro release clause before we can extend his contract.  These were justified criticisms at the time.  And they’re reasonable fears now.  But they also remind us that we should have a little bit of equilibrium before we either crown ourselves champions or doom ourselves to relegation.

OK.  My rant is over.  Unfortunately, I had a tough time watching this game yesterday (internet problems) but got parts of it, reviewed the comments, and watched some highlights.  And again, we looked pretty damn good the first half.  Barca were fortunate to have held on to 0-0 going into the half.  That we came unhinged only following Escudero’s really unfortunate injury says a lot.  Even still we looked, at worst, on fairly even footing with Barca until their second goal.

I’ll just share a few of my own observations and those of others from the comments on the performances of some players:

Vitolo has been our best player so far.  Mudo looks good as well.  Mercado looked really good too (had he even practiced with this team?).  Kiyotake still looks really impressive while Ganso didn’t look up to speed (again, he only just got back from injury).  Also, Rico does need to learn how to distribute the ball better.  He had some great saves but his distribution is an issue.

But more broadly, we missed our “head”.  We had no one creating true clear cut chances like Banega.  We had no one operating as our midfield destroyer like Krychowiak.  And we had no charging at their defense with reckless abandon like Gameiro.

This team has a ways to go.  It’s undoubtedly still a work in progress.  But I’m more encouraged now than I was when the pre-season began.  We are going to make mince meat out of the bottom half of the table.  Deep breathes everyone.  Deep breathes while watching the second leg against Barca in a few days.  The games that matter start against Espanyol this weekend.

Comments 31

  1. Putting my pitchfork and torch back in the closet…for now lol. We should sign another striker though cuz if our #1 gets hurt then it could potentially be a mediocre back up and Juan Munoz playing big time games. Remember how that went for us last year with Immobile/Llorente?

    1. Post

      haha! just make sure they’re ever at the ready… gotta be prepared.

      its still really tough to know what to expect from vietto and ben yedder once we really get going. and maybe munoz will do well? i had wanted him to be the third striker last season but he really didnt get many opportunities. im not sure if he’s improved or not, but you’d hope so right?

      who the hell knows? im glad monchi runs the team and not me.

  2. (Ugh. Stupid phone just deleted a whole response…)

    The synopsis:

    It’s too soon to bring out the pitchforks after 2 games against the most stable Barca and RM in years. They both had a relatively calm summer, while we are laying the foundations of a whole new project.

    I like what I am seeing so far, but there are still doubts and a lot of rough edges to polish.

    Reading online articles and forums, I am concerned about how much patience and time will be given to this project. Even if we don’t win the cup, I hope we put on a good showing and get a good result.

    And I can’t wait for La Liga to start!!!

  3. Nice post Rene. Really one to soothe the spirits rather than already reaching for the bottle.

    In regards to a 3rd striker though, Sampaoli has expressed his interest in working with Carlos Fernández. It’s unfornate he went down with a lengthy injury before any friendly game was played. Who knows how much better he is than Juan Muñoz, but this we shall see. Should be back sometime this month, and I certainly haven’t seen any links to bringing in another CF.

    The most important out of these games we’ve played is indeed the manner in which we played them, and if the team is progressing. What we can say is that the team is adapting to Sampaoli’s style of play and is doing an adequate job. Lots of room for improvement as always, but the satisfying thing is that there were good takeaways. I know there must have been a bit of pressure in the 1st leg to show the RSP faithful what this team is capable of, especially after the Madrid game.

    But the 2nd leg offers us another great test. This time we have nothing to lose. Whatever team JS decides to pick, he has an abundance of options (except in defense.) Does he stick with the same core in N’Zonzi, Kiyo, Vitolo & Vázquez, or does he try out his experiment with Ganso? Will either of Ben Yedder, Sarabia, or Correa get a start? And has he already lost his faith in Konoplyanka?

    If anything, we got a chance to take the game to them again, and change the narrative on our season once more. (Will definitely check back on this post after we get thrashed 6-0 at the Camp Nou.)

  4. We certainly must remember it does take time to adapt. Sampaoli system will not come overnight, it may take months but when we get it right we will be damn good.

    As for the strikers, give them a chance, especially yedder.. after all does anyone remember the first season of a Sevilla hero who vows by the name of Luis Fabiano?

    1. It was a whole different story. True Fabiano took time to find his feet within the club, but at that time we also had: Kanoute, Saviola and Kepa who were doing quite decent. But Fabiano shortly thereafter… so if Ben Yedder will do the same I wouldn’t be surprised. As for Vietto, I’ve given up already. Hopefully he can win me again and prove me wrong but the recent failure with Atletico fills me with high doubts.

  5. Interesting post. Regarding N’Zonzi, it’s not that we will be doomed if we loose him, but the limited time would mean we will not be able to find a proper replacement. N’Zonzi may be the best DM we have now…. but in reality N’Zonzi is nothing special and last season if it wasn’t for Krycho we wouldn’t have achieved what we did. N’Zonzi is not even close to M’bia’s level for instance… what M’bia offered in the midfield N’Zonzi will never be able to and he can’t even make use of his height to head-shot the ball in the box. That’s why we may be concerned now about his possible departure. Say N’Zonzi leaves and an unproven DM comes we will have so start from the beginning all over. We have only 2 true DM’s at the moment anyway. Very short of DM’s so far. I’d keep Cristoforo AND sign Caio… we really need a strong defensive midfield for this system.

    An important thing to remember is that Sampaoli with Chile in the Copa America 2015 final vs. Argentina had 6 defensive midfielders in the starting lineup. One of them was a RB who could also play DM, but the others were pure DM and we all know how he used the DM Medel as CB and shocked everyone.

    Therefore, for this system, 2-3 DM’s ain’t going to cut it. Especially not DM’s who will not be able to chase, push, and tackle midfielders in order to win the ball (ball winners). There’s a huge liability in that sector.

    Sampaoli had the likes of Vidal, Aranguiz, Diaz and Medel to chase around for the ball.

    It should be mentioned though that Carrico can also play DM, which puts one’s mind a bit at ease, but still, he will be much more needed in the 3rd back of defense.

    1. ShendM, allow me to disagree with you for one second. I think we need less DM’s and more “all around” CM’s for this system. A true DM, one that gets the ball back but adds little in terms of possession would not add a lot to this team. Of the Chile players that you mention, Sampaoli used Medel as a Central Defender and Vargas and Aranguriz are both box-to-box midfielders. Diaz is the only one that can be looked at as truly a DM, under his system. And he is adequate at moving the ball.

      In Sampaoli’s system, the designated DM does less of the crunching tackles that Krycowiack, and Medel, had us accustomed to. The team over all does more pressing and wins the ball back less through last ditch efforts, but through doubling up on players and making them do more mistakes. In a sense the defensive system is more organized and has better coverage than before. (Yes, I know the team still need to do this cohesively for 90+ minutes, but that’s another posting…)

      This is where Kranevitter will be essential. From what we have seen, he is very good with the ball in his feet, and is good at finding the areas with least amount of pressure to start off attacks. The way I see it Kiyotake, Ganso, and Sarabia can all eventually fill the b2B role even if they are not specialists defensively. Kiyotake yesterday had a good first 60 minutes as a b2b CM. There were multiple times where I was wondering where he had disappeared to just to see that he had been either the player that had stolen the ball, or was applying pressure. Ganso still has to catch up fitness wise, but with his ball skill and trickery, he should be an interesting player to watch. Sarabia has been used in the preseason as a Jack-of -all trades, but i think he will mostly fill in the b2b roles.

      I do think Cristoforo could add something to the DM/CM positions. I always found that he had a lot of potential, and could provide a lot to the team. I am a bit disappointed that he is not being given an opportunity.

      I would like to see another CD brought in. Someone that is good on the ball, and preferably someone that knows La Liga. Even before the transformation, and even if Emery had stayed, I would have expected at least one reinforcement to the back line. With Parejo aging and coming of a difficult injury, Carrico being relatively fragile, and Kolo being… well.. Kolo. And given that it seems that we might be playing with 3 in the back at times, I would have thought that the backline was a priority.

      1. Hmm… you’ve made some good points.

        Maybe it would be better off to not getting used to draw parallels between Sampaoli’s Chile and Sevilla. I made a mistake by comparing the players, when in fact they shouldn’t be for many reasons, but 2 very important reasons as they stand:

        1) NT football is like completely a whole different sport compared to club football.

        2) We don’t have a player like Vidal (he is the engine both in Chile and Bayern).

        So unless we sign Vidal or opt in for international competition, we should really not draw parallels as the arguments may take another shape then and it wouldn’t be realistic.

        Hopefully Kranevitter will prove me wrong… but I don’t see anything good in him that is needed for a player who is supposed to do something defensively. Kiyotake can’t do everything alone, and I need to correct you that Sarabia has been used solely as a right winger during pre-season. Although he is an attacking midfielder by trade, I don’t see him as a box to box midfielder… whether Sampaoli will experiment with that, I’m not sure, especially now that the official start of the season is near.

        Maybe with Caio things can change for the good… but I’m afraid even Caio is not the engine of the midfield that we need.

        I’ve watched Chile under Sampaoli and they pressured a lot in the midfield… even Medel went on to tackle and push players of the ball… everyone did it basically. Here we saw glimpses of Carrico doing the same vs. RM, it wasn’t bad. That game tricked us a bit… as we totally dominated there and thought we can do the same vs. Barca, but Barca showed more maturity during the second half and Luis Enrique spotted our weaknesses well.

        An image of passing statistics at Barcaforum showed that they made very little use of their left flank (Digne – Arda) and most of their passes and attacks came through the right flank (Roberto – Messi/Suarez). This means that they exploited the hell out of our left flank… and we collapsed in the second half especially after Escudero’s injury.

        That was more a tactical win of Barca than anything else. They really weren’t in top form and showed signs of lack of fitness at times.

        In the 2nd match, I’d like to see the following players starting: Churripi, Mariano, Rami, Mercado, Kiyotake, Ganso, N’Zonzi, Vitolo, Franco, Kono (let’s give him a chance) and Ben Yedder.

      2. I am all for buying Vidal 😀

        I can’t say that I am familiar with Caio. I’ve only been able to watch him play for 10 minutes in these Olympics. If he is the player coming in, I hope he adds to what we need. If the goal is to buy a b2b, then it should be someone more dynamic or steely than the players I mentioned above.

        I agree with you that Luis Enrique out foxed us on Sunday. But remember that they have been together as a team much longer, and he know their strengths and weaknesses more than Sampaoli know ours.

        Without seeing the stats you are talking about, I think that the fact that Escudero was also pushing up more than Mariano made the left flank more vulnerable. I thought that Escudero was having a great game until he got injured, maybe even a contender for man of the match. I think he will have a great impact on out team this year.

        Lastly, I agree with giving Kono a chance. I think that Sampaoli’s system can benefit him greatly as well. Let’s hope he takes off this year. And I can’t wait to see Ganso in full form. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was this excited about an attacking player that Sevilla bought.

  6. Post

    great discussion guys. really enjoying it.

    let me add one more bit though. last season we played the european supercup against barca and had an exhausting overtime loss (it sucked). remember how barca did just a few days later against bilbao? they lost 4-0.

    this was our situation this year, except instead it was us who had to play on short rest against a well rested (even if still rusty) barca team. we saw fatigue in the end of the match around when they scored their second goal. anyway, just one more reason not to stress about these “cups”. they aren’t real cups.

    bring on espanyol!

  7. Let me just say, regarding strikers: I can go back and copy/paste comments lambasting Gameiro for not being able to play as a starting striker even after having 2 seasons with better stats than Bacca. Now he’s obviously regarded as a hero. Not blasting ’em through on RM and Barcelona when they’ve gotten poor service is not a reason to doubt them yet.

    1. Stats don’t win matches… otherwise it should be Barca winning every possible football match as they dominate every opponent in ball possession.

      Gameiro was a sub, and did his job well. Gameiro was not the great player we’ve seen last season… no one can predict the future, but making logical assumptions based on a current player’s performance is never wrong.

      1. LOL. Not saying I’m always right… but in that case I wasn’t wrong either. You’re trying too hard… let it go!

  8. What a discussion! its like reading a top-quality la liga / sevilla football publication. Some excellent points raised..

    Its a good post Rene, and gives us time to settle down and digest whats going on. A well respected fan on twitter last night asked the question, that does this squad need such the dramatic over haul – We won the Europa? Now with so many new players, key players sold, completely new style of play? etc etc.. One fan replied, we finished 7th and didn’t win away all year.

    Im not sure, but with a new coach arriving. Credit to the management for backing his philosophy. The signings create a new identity and whole mentality. I see a real tough team to play against, with agility, skill and raw speed to trouble any team. We have a good blend of experience, and pretty much all the players are in their prime.

    Overall Im feeling very positive. We can create something special here, maybe another “Leicester”?But agree these “cups” are nice if you win them, but do not make or break your season. We’ve been a bit unlucky in the sense that we have both played RM & Barca, the best teams in the world, when we have just sold our best players and trying to implement a new team. The last time we won this trophy played Barca with our established team in 2006. We won 3-0.

    On Wednesday, I hope we go to Camp Nou. and do ourselves justice and play with freedom, it doesnt matter if we loose aslong as we put a solid marker down and give the Barca players and the rest of la liga something to think about over the coming season. They need to know when the match ends that we are a serious team and can compete with them this year all the way. I agree also on Sunday the latter part we looked tired, and the RM match probably taken its toll. They took advantage of this..

    Keep up the excellent comments Guys, and lets see if we manage to sign Caio?

  9. Great post Rene, some nice perspective, and I am looking forward to catching up with all the insightful comments when I get a free moment from my work

  10. I believe was bad against Barca, but after all its the best team in the world and its the same team as last year. Our team needs time to gel, new coach, new philosophy and new players. I liekd Mercado in his debut. I also believe Rami was good. The problem in defense was only after Escudero was out. And I cant understand why we dont have a backup LB. And in general except CB, we dont have cover defense in my opinion. Vazquez, Kiyotake were ok. Remember tough start for both against the two best teams in the world. Ben Yedder looks promising. Sarabia in this level cant play AMC. He is a winger. Vietto and Kranevitter, the two loans, they just havent shown anything good yet. Especially Kranevitter. He seems like a lost player in every game. Maybe Sampaoli sees something different in training.

  11. Great article and comments guys. What a great read this morning. Here’s the players called into the team for the trip to Barcelona:

    Sergio Rico, José Antonio Caro, David Carmona, Diego González, Gabriel Mercado, Mariano, Alex Muñoz, Iborra, Kiyotake, Nzonzi, Kranevitter, Correa, Franco Vázquez, Ganso, Vitolo, Sarabia, Konoplyanka, Ben Yedder and Vietto.

    1. Whew, our defense has gotten decimated! I can’t recall when a team has lost 6! of the first team defenders. We literally have two first team right backs available for Wednesday’s game. I wouldn’t count on making too many judgements or effective analysis based on it. Hopefully the B team players come out big. I’m not familiar with them. Any of them worth keeping an eye on?

      1. So far, Diego González is the only one guaranteed to start. He was good in his only pre-season game vs. St. Pauli. He can also play LB & DM, but i’m sure he’ll feature at CB since we’re so depleted.

        Sampaoli mentioned he’d pick a new XI, so it’ll be interesting to see who makes the cut. Looking forward to the likes of Alex Muñoz (left-sided CB) who just signed for Sevilla At. this summer, and if Carmona gets a runout at RB.

  12. I think we will see –
    Mariano – Mercado – Diego Gonzalez – Munoz
    Iborra – Ganso
    Sarabia – Correa – Kono
    Ben Yedder

    We are starting this season like last which led to the loan of Andreolli and eventually Fazio. Would really like to have Diego back right now. He could have thrived in Sampoali’s system

    1. I’d like that lineup, if only to see the boy Correa play. Iborra would be a bit isolated in midfield, so maybe JS sacrifices one of those attacking players for N’Zonzi or Kranevitter.

      1. I thought about N’Zonzi in the lineup; he’s been playing a ton of minutes so far though. Too bad we don’t have Cristoforo. 🙁

        In other news, it looks like Sevilla Atletico continue to improve their squad signing twin brothers from Racing Santander, Borja and Fede both 19.

  13. Hey guys,

    Been following this site for a few weeks and decided to join in the conversation given the growing number or contributors and quality posts. I see most are from the Americas or Europe so I’m here to spice things up as I’m Asian (not joking lol)

    Given the time zones most Sevilla games are in the wee hours of the morning around 2 to 4 o’clock so the most I could get are the highlights and not the full picture, having a section of English-speaking fans to give a different perspective gives me a much more grounded opinion and not just snippets of the game and players.

    Regarding this “cup”, I’m fine if we lose the whole thing entirely, we’re still not done in the market (hopefully) and the players who are banned or injured mean it’s an upward battle anyway, I’d rather Sampaoli just let the players get used to the tactics in a first-team match situation and let them figure it out, I think if we pick up any bans they are carried over to the league? In that case it’s not worth taking the risk.

    As for transfers I would really like to see more defensive reinforcements, I managed to see a few games last season and our defense was never really solid. Carrico’s a warrior but he was always good since his Sporting Lisbon days, Rami is sort of solid but prone to the occasional mishap here and there, Pareja was arguably the best in our first two Euro cup triumphs but having been out for so long and at his advanced age I’m not sure he can play 2 matches each week. As for Kolo he does not convince me at all, he makes rash decisions and some of his decision making can really hinder the team, I have no faith in him and want a replacement asap.

    It’s the same for defensive midfield, Sevilla have always had a destroyer in the middle of the park from the days of Poulson, Maresca to Kondogbia, Zokora, M’bia and Krycho. Kranevitter may come to good but we need a plan B in case he doesn’t work out, he is also on loan with no option to buy so I don’t think he’s the long term solution there. I hope Cristoforo does get a run out when he gets back as he was impressive when he came on, I hope we make a bid for Danilo Barbosa who just left Valencia for Braga, he looked really good and I have no idea why Valencia let him leave.

    Sevilla Atletico have signed the San Emeterio twins from Racing, Borja is the famous one as he’s the best right back prospect in this year’s edition of football manager while fede isn’t too shabby either in the defensive midfielder role, hope they come to good.

    1. welcome to the site, and we look forward to your continuing contribution 🙂

      Which part of Asia are you from? Your English is fantastic!

    2. welcome and great first comment!

      hopefully pareja is back 100%. and rami was very very good last year, i have no problem with those two and carrico taking the bulk of the duties. i also think more highly of kolo than most people on here, but agree he’s not at the same level as those three. DM is where im more concerned. we’ll see what kranevitter has to offer over the next weeks/months, but so far it hasnt looked good.

      and interesting about those twins. i saw they signed them but didnt realize how highly touted they are.

  14. Thanks for the warm welcome guys, I’m from Hong Kong but spent a couple of my formative years down under where it was really sink or swim. I won’t say I can swim but at least I can float 😉

    I think you probably have a better idea than me on the quality of our defense, I only caught a few games last season and one of them included the home win over Villarreal, yes we won 4-2 but the two goals we conceded were avoidable. Some of the goals we let in last season were truly bad but I noticed a certain Fazio was involved so I’ll put it all on him. If we can rotate the 3 quality centre backs we have we may be fine but Carrico may be needed for the DM spot, if he gets injured we’ll be pretty thin in both spots as with last year but this time there’s no krycho to save our asses (why we let him go I’ll never know).

    I agree we need a DM but most options are already taken, I would love to have a joshua guilavogui or even diame (went for 4.5m pounds to Newcastle) but they might just be “destroyers” who can’t contribute when attacking, nevertheless having a physical presence is vital in this system as we saw in Sampaoli’s Chile teams, all we have are Iborra, a timid kranevitter and a bunch of technical attacking midfielders.

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