What a difference a few days can make! After riding high on a wave of unbridled enthusiasm after the belated return to form of our beloved Sevilla FC in midweek, we are today left right back where we started after a dismal display against early season high-flyers Celta Vigo. As morning officially turned into afternoon, only one team appeared to have had their morning coffee, and to our despair it was not the home side. Celta, spearheaded by our 5 million euro summer sale Iago Aspas, came out of the traps and ran us ragged, as if mocking any affects that the mid-day sun was trying to impose on their human bodies. Meanwhile, Sevilla huffed and puffed as if they had had a collective hangover after a late night out in the copas bars of La Alameda.
After only 15 minutes of away pressure it was 0-1, the goal coming from their highly impressive number 10 Nolito, which shortly and expectedly turned into 0-2 with a low drive from the edge of our area, the result of some rather comical Sunday league style defending. It would have been of little surprise if the comparatively energetic away side added further insult to injury with a third or fourth, such was Sevilla’s ineptitude to string three or four passes together, or even keep hold of possession long enough to launch a dangerous attack. Emery took decisive action, and hooked Vitolo for Krohn-Dehli, after a shameful 30 minutes or so for the Spanish international. I sincerely hope he was carrying a knock, as if he has the attitude that he can just turn up against these types of teams then he potentially has a big problem. Whatever the case, he was not alone in being woeful.
Banega, who had our only shot of note in the first half, summed up our frustrations with a stupid and cynical lunge on the half way line on a Celta player going nowhere fast. He was quite rightly booked, and by that act of petulance he earned himself a yellow card. not to mention the wrath of Emery as he spent the entire second ’45 on the bench, Llorente coming on. Half time Sevilla 0 Celta Vigo 2.
Half time presented an opportunity to reflect on what went wrong. Was it the weather? I mean, whose idea was it to start a football game in Andalusia at 12 noon in September??? but no, we could not blame the mid 85-degree heat, because Celta (from the chillier north) coped with it just fine. So what was it? Lack of respect for our opponents? fatigue from mid week exertions? a make-shift back four which spread disbelief into the rest of the team? Perhaps one or all of the above, or perhaps none… One thing was for sure, as the Sevillistas sough brief respite from the searing sun in the shaded refreshment areas of the Pizjuan, Unai Emery had to be undertaking one massive team talk for us to have any chance of recovering this game.
As Llorente came on it was clear that we had changed to standard 4-4-2 with N’Zonzi pushing slightly further forward in support of MKD and Reyes, and the second half started in explosive fashion. It was like a different team had emerged from the bowels of the stadium to replace those earlier imposters, and wave after wave of Sevilla pressure finally took its toll as Mariano picked up a loose ball on the right hand side and floated a tantalising cross to the back post for Llorente to nod home from 6 yards. 1-2 Game on! The stadium erupted with cries of “Goolllllll” as Llorente, clearly relieved to have opened his account, soaked up the adulation of the fans with some rousing arm waving.
We continued to push vigorously, Gameiro making incisive runs through the heart of the Celta defence, Llorente winning headers like he was still playing in his halcyon days for Bilbao, and MKD causing all sorts of havoc with his energy and intelligence. Such was Krohn-Dehli’s trickery that he almost equalised after a fine cut inside and swerving cross that agonisingly bounced off the cross bar with the keeper beaten.
Celta made a fine job of wasting time, and almost caught us on the counter a few times, and we have Andreolli and Sergio Rico to thank for keeping the score line down at times near the end. As the affects of the earlier burst of energy took their toll, both Mariano and Andreolli picked up injuries but had to play on regardless as there was no chance of a substitution due to the disappointing Reyes already being replaced by Konoplyanka. As it was, the big Ukranian could do little to change things, and Celta soaked up the pressure and penalty appeals with relative ease. N’Zonzi faded like he had had no breakfast, and passed the ball to the opposition on far too many occasions, and Celta strolled the ball into the corners to run down the puny 3 minutes of added time.
Full time came with a whimper, and the boos and whistles rang loud and clear around the Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan. Sitting in 19th place (potentially 20th by tonight) Emery no doubt knows he has a lot of work to do to change things around. On the plus side, we played with a makeshift back four, are missing key players in the vital area of defence in Carrico, Pareja and Rami, and we still have time to gets things right in the league campaign, starting with an away trip to the Canary Islands in midweek. A game that couldn’t come quick enough for Emery and all who are associated with Sevilla FC.
Full Time: Sevilla 1 Celta Vigo 2