Aaaaand we’re back! Most clubs don’t officially start their season for another week or so, but then Sevilla isn’t most clubs: today they play for the first of two trophies they will compete for before Matchday 1 kicks off. That makes Sevilla, by my (completely unresearched) count, the only European club competing for two major trophies in August.
As Rene noted last week, though, most of the folks playing today weren’t actually around in May to win the trophy that qualified us to play today. “Tumultuous summer transfer window” is such a common refrain around the Nervion that I’ve heard rumors they’re going to add the phrase in Latin to the crest, but even compared to our usual craziness this summer has been chaotic. The departure of just about every player you might have identified as “key” last year, as well as our genius coach, as well as the near departure of team architect and site namesake Monchi, as well as the near-departure of our replacement coach, and then the boatload of 10 million+ euro replacements mean that I have no idea what to expect today, other than a dim sense that it promises to be very entertaining, intriguing, and hopefully will give us some sense of what Sampaoli will be looking to accomplish on the field this year. In recent years, one of the most common themes we’ve seen is the team getting a hard reset from personnel changes, followed by a slow month or 4 while the team struggles to adapt to its new look, and then ultimately an extremely effective team comes together some time after March, and we win some trophies. By that measure, this game will likely be a tough one.
On the other side of the field, though, Madrid will mostly be marked by players who aren’t available: Cristiano, Bale, Kroos, Pepe, and Navas are all missing today (and Benzema will start on the bench), meaning you could probably build a better XI for RM just out of players from their roster who won’t play today than whoever Zidane puts out there. Of course, it’s who does play that will matter, and by this measure I actually think Sevilla has a decent chance to win today, previously noted challenges notwithstanding.
In general we at Monchi’s Men are very excited for this game, and especially this season. We’ve got some great content lined up over the next week or two, and hope to do even more this year to make this site a great place for all of you to congregate, comment, hear about news, and maybe even pick up a tactical insight or two on the way. Here’s to a great season, and here’s to a victorious start to the year in just a few hours.
Update: Lineup announced!
Rico, Pareja, Carrico, Kolo, Iborra, Kiyotake, N’Zoni, Vazquez, Mariano, Vietto, Vitolo
3 in the back, lots of new faces. STRAP YOURSELVES IN, HERE WE GO!