With the conclusion of back to back games against first Mlodast (a resounding 1–6 away win in a Europa qualifier) and Manchester United (a 1–3 win on the road in Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial), Sevilla has completed their preseason schedule and can now look forward to their season opening date with Atlético. Before a ball had even been played this preseason, many sevillistas had begun to harbor more hope and optimism than had been seen in these parts for many years, due largely to a series of savvy purchases and sales by Monchi and co. Before these last two games the excitement had continued to build as the team swept through an admittedly not-too-challenging slate of games undefeated while at times showing glimpses of dazzling play, pace, and forward-looking purpose from several of the new signings. Maybe this year things are going to be different, the Sevilla fan might have heard his heart whispering to him in quiet moments.
And THEN. The Mlodast away game saw explosive attacking, great finishing, and–perhaps most unbelievably–a decisive away win in a competitive match. And the Manchester game…well, it was just a silly old testimonial, and it was hardly United’s first team out there, but again, more than the result it was the way the team played–like a team with an identity and a purpose. During the game Aaron noted on Twitter that the departure of Negredo and Navas has freed the team to think in new and different ways, and it seems at this early stage that in general the players and coaching staff is taking full advantage of that opportunity to make a new team.
A Spanish term for all of this is dar ilusión, which means “to give hope”. But of course ilusión can also mean, simply and literally, “illusion”…we could be dealing with either of these as we sit on the precipice of a new season. It’s an exciting time to be a fan–we’ve played a couple games that actually mattered already, but are yet to play an important game against real, tough competition, so our imagination is the limit right now. That same hope can be pretty unsettling, too, though–who knows how the team will look against weekly Liga competition, or if we’ll return to the same old impotence away from the RSP? That same suckitude this year would hurt all the more for the promise we’ve all witnessed this past month. In a couple weeks we’ll have cold, hard reality to grapple with, but for now, we have only a little actual data but we’ve seen just enough brilliance to fuel a lot of ilusión. So I thought this moment of relatively uninformed and unbridled enthusiasm would be an interesting opportunity to take the blog’s temperature: what are you guys’ predictions for the season? Where do you think we’ll end up in La Liga? How far will we go in the Copa? And what’s going to happen in the Europa? Let’s all throw in some predictions now, and in a few months we can all look back and sadly laugh at our naïveté. Lets hear what people are thinking, and enjoy this moment–whatever kind of ilusión we’re dealing with, there’s more than I’ve seen in some time, and for now that’s pretty thrilling.