Today Sevilla face up to Espanyol in the quarterfinals of this edition of the Copa del Rey, which has found us on the other side of the bracket from all of the imposing powers of this day and age.
We meet in Estadi Cornellà-El Prat, a stadium within whiffing distance of the Mediterranean, and one that has already seen Sevilla success this season. Waaaay back in August when Unai’s record primera vuelta team were mere babble-tongued babes compared to what they would accomplish in this first half, we beat Espanyol in this very stadium 1-2 with goals from Bacca and Iborra (which saw both players pronouncing such advanced words as Champions and puntería). Iborra is likely to start tomorrow, but the Colombian should be expected to ride the cushy, best-ever-start-in-La-Liga-sealing pine following his winner against Málaga this past weekend.
The attacking formation will be a point of high interest among Sevilla faithful, as two strikers have been vying (one, with words and goals; the other with just goals) for their own supporting cast. Iago Aspas is the Copa’s top goal scorer at this quarterfinal stage and most vocal demander of minutes, while Gameiro has impressed both as starter and substitute in La Liga since his return from injury in September. Emery could go aggressive and opt for a 4-4-2 featuring both Hungry Men™ in the lineup, but last round he left Bacca alone up top. This seems less likely given the massively important clash at Valencia looming this Sunday, so expect some combination of Aspas/Gameiro up top with substitutes entering the fray as the game demands.
Here are my (totally serious) predictions for tomorrow:
1. Aspas scores the opener and the second-er and the third-er. Emery subs him off at half for Gameiro.
2. Gameiro scores four other goals and Emery stands on the sideline like “Fuck, man! What am I supposed to do now?”
3. Arribas plays a full 90 and wins over all the hearts of the Cornellà faithful for Sevilla. A whole new 40,000 fans for Emery’s team.
And that leads me to the next item. I haven’t written a post in a while, but I am deeply frustrated by the lack of respect Sevilla still wields in the LFP and particularly from the English journalists that cover our league. We sold our best two defenders (Fazio, Alberto Moreno) and our all-orienting midfield anchor (Rakitic) and STILL have solidified the best first half in our club’s history. That is as significant if not more significant than Atleti sitting 3rd following the departure of Costa and Felipe. Look at RM and Barca, who only exchanged world class for world class and remain on top. We are consistently overlooked (by the LaLigaLoca blog), undervalued (by Sid Lowe, who continues to gush over Villarreal’s form), and underexposed as European Fucking Champions in 3 of the last 9 years. It’s time they started talking about us even though we don’t fit into the geographic dichotomy of Madrid/Barcelona that Spain loves so much. We’ve earned as much.
Regardless of tomorrow’s result, let’s remember that we still have the decisive vuelta at home. I am looking forward to an open and enjoyable match tomorrow. This is definitely our best chance since 2010 to win the Copa del Rey–and we don’t even have Diego “Dead Man” Capel anymore!
Enjoy the match and may God continue to bless our Sevilla FC.