Pondering Porto, Europa, CL, and Osasuna: Match Comments

I’ll admit it.  I’ve started getting greedy.  8 points away sits the final Champions League spot.  It’s tantalizingly close.  And yet so so so far away.  And so, heading into this match against Betis, part of me was convinced that, especially given our recent slew of injuries, elimination might have been better for this club in the long run IF we could use that focus to make the CL next year.

But let’s be honest, that IF is still pretty iffy.  Yes, it’s possible, and I do sincerely believe that making the CL again would be huge for the club financially as well as possibly in terms of retaining good players (Rakitic and Moreno most notably) or attracting new ones.  (We must qualify within the next few years.  MUST).  But if were honest, it’s still a long shot.  And single-minded pursuit of a CL spot would have been weak consolation to the glory that was yesterday.  Betis did not deserve to have taken the advantage into that match and I can’t even begin to articulate my pride in the team and trainer for having put in such a gutsy and effective performance.  Slow.  Clap.  Kicking their asses on their own pitch is something we will tell our children about.

Seeing the draw today got me even more excited.  Competing in elimination championships is what it is all about.  And there are some really formidable teams left in Europa (thank goodness we avoided Juventus).  My impression is that Porto is very beatable.  I’m guessing that most will have us pegged as the favorites.  We could actually win this tournament.  We could.  Other than Juve no team is any better than we are when we’re playing like we did yesterday.

So, in sum, I do feel like our likelihood of landing in a CL spot went down.  But if we’re honest, I think the difference was only like going from 10 to 5%.  We could still do it, but it was and is still a very small chance.

Finally, allow me to get a little nerdy and point something out.  UEFA club coefficients determine tournament seedings.   Sevilla is at 60 something points (29th ranked club 5th highest in Spain).  But the way they are calculated is by a straight average of your five most recent seasons (and then an additional league adjustment).  Our best scoring season of the past five was the one five years ago, and which is about to come off of our record.  Therefore, we were about to have a precipitous drop in ranking after this year without a strong performance in Europe.  Now, as we continue to march forward in the Europa, we might even climb.  This will help us in the long run, having easier qualification and group play matches.  Anyway, I thought that was interesting and figured I’d share.

Overall I’m just pumped about this team right now.  I assume this had an absolutely earth shaking effect on the team’s overall psyche and spirits.  It could very realistically impact players’ willingness to return next year and to keep this core together.

Oh, and we have this match against Osasuna tomorrow.  It will be a big challenge I think for the team to refocus but they absolutely have to if we don’t want to pull the plug on this CL dream just as it gets going.  Awaya at Osasuna is never easy so the boys had better step up and hopefully jump all over them from the start.