I know I’m putting this up a little early, but a) I know work will be insane starting Monday and b) it’s never too soon to turn the page on an awful result. So let’s change the focus to Tuesday.
The last time Sevilla qualified for the Champions League it happened in dramatic fashion, a last minute half volley/bicycle from Rodri leaping us into fourth place in the dying moments of the season’s final match. But while that glow left us happy for an off season, our participation effectively ended before it started. Getting knocked out of the playoff round by Braga in many ways marked nadir of a directionless stretch for our club between our pairs of Europa championships.
This year, we said, “screw playoff rounds, those are for chumps” and decided to instead win the Europa League and its newly bestowed reward of direct qualification to the group stage. So let’s not screw it up this time. We have a minimum of six Champions League matches (I’m fairly certain all of us are hoping we’ll see ten or more) and with which we would all love to show case our beloved club.
The problem at the moment is, we simply haven’t seen anything from our club so far that’s worth showcasing. Aside from 45-60 minutes of inspiring football storming back against Barca in the Supercopa, this team has looked disjointed and bad. Emery’s tactics have been confusing and the lineups don’t seem to match with a coherent strategy.
Undoubtedly we have been ravaged by a large number of critical injuries, most notably with our CB position stripped down below the bone with the absence of Pareja, Carrico, and Rami. It is also true that the international break deprived us of Banega and the freshness of some of our other main contributors. And unfortunately, we have again been forced to deal with a huge amount of turnover between seasons. But I expect better from this club. That showing against Levante was woeful. Bacca’s finishing, Mbia’s midfield control and dominance, and Vidal’s terrorizing of the right wing (which in turn allowed Vitolo to be at his best on the left) have all been badly missed.
It is still VERY early days, and I am not panicked by any means just yet. But our two biggest name signings (Llorente and Konoplyanka) have, in my opinion, both been pretty disappointing so far. There is plenty of time for both redemption and glory and I have no reason to believe they will be anything but very important contributors, but at the moment something (or a lot of things) aren’t right. We’ve already dropped four points that we really shouldn’t have and that will, without any doubt, come back to haunt us.
I’m hoping that the extra boost of Champions League adrenaline will shock our collective system into alertness. Hosting an also under-performing Monchengladbach might be just what we need. But if we put on another show like we did on Friday and do anything but take all three points, our return to the Champions League might not be much more inspiring than our early exit five years ago.