Previously on Sevilla: The Season!
A disgruntled forward earns recognition and minutes while keeping his brothers in the Champions League spot… Injuries complicate (or simplify!) managerial game plans… M’Bia m’biarrives back to the team from ACN to get it on at the Bernabeu.
The Espanyol victory was an immense boost ahead of our AVE train ride north tomorrow. In fact, I wouldn’t have a shred of hope heading into this delayed fixture if not for Aspas’s winner in the 89th minute on Sunday. We were previously mired in a streak of three fruitless outings against a very good Valencia that humbled us 3-1 and a very better-than-usual Espanyol that bumped us out of the Copa 3-1, 1-0. Prior to that our form was an impeccable 9 victories and 1 tie from 10 matches.
So, looming before us is the Bernabeu. It looms largely there. Oh, and looming behind us is the number 7–as in 7-3 last March in the place that is looming before us. What I mean is there is a lot of looming going on, and most of it is looming in a general sense of dread. One thing not looming is CR7, who will have to save his chulísimo “Síiiiiiiiii” for May when the merengues take the AVE down to the RSP. That does not mean Sevilla will be comfortable in any sense, especially with Benzema and Isco on excellent runs of form and Bale likely out to prove his worth to the home crowd. Will there be man bun?
Now for the expected lineup:
Bacca starts right? But for an opportunistic away goal at Espanyol and one of two penalties made at Valencia, the Colombian hasn’t had the run of goals we may have expected given his start to the season. Don’t be surprised if Aspas gets a chance to play, too–especially if the match is close in the end. You can assume Denis Suarez starts in midfield, but we will be without the creative feet of both Banega and Reyes, likely making room for Deulofeu to make another start in La Liga.
Behind these two (and possibly Aleix Vidal), M’Bia may get the call after having a week or so to recoup from his time repping Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations. He will probably spell Iborra, who has played excellently of late but also for the full 90′ in three straight games. Could we see Coke along side M’Bia in midfield for an extra defensive posture ahead of the back four?
Here are my predictions (read: prayers) for the game:
1. 0-0 at half with a building chess match between Carlo and Unai.
2. Marcelo dives for a penalty, wins it, but Benz’s take is saved by Rico Suave.
3. Unai celebrates a goal so furiously that he accidentally kicks sideline reporter Sara Carbonero, whose boyfriend gets into a big ol’ pushy-shove with Unai (who is of course guarded fiercely by Aspas).