Sevilla – Barcelona Match Preview and Comments

Sevilla has started off the season as well as anyone could have hoped—5 games in and we have no losses, more wins than draws, only two goals conceded, and tied for third in the table. We could do much worse, of course, but it’s worth noting that last year (you know, when we finished 9th and pretty much everyone agreed to call the season something somewhere between “frustrating” and “failure”), after the first five weeks our record was also 3–2–0. (In fact, we didn’t lose until our 10th game last season! And then we lost a lot!) Seasons are not won or lost in the first five weeks, as they say, or would if they were asked directly. And while early-season home wins against the ogres crushing the league underneath the weight of their all-consuming greed certainly feel good, they count the same three points as a late-season victory over a stubborn bottom-dwelling team would. So, you know, great start, but we’ve got miles to go.

But of course it’d be silly to suggest that early results don’t matter, or that beating Madrid wasn’t valuable to the team. In week 3 the team seemed to lack the confidence and wherewithal to put away 10-man Rayo when the game was tied, missing two penalties and a handful of good-to-great chances. That second missed penalty could have become the story of the early season: Sevilla, a capable team that couldn’t or didn’t get it done due to…an out-of-form Negredo? A misfiring midfield? You can pick from dozens of narratives the team’s been carrying around its neck in recent years. Instead of telling those stories, though, Navas and Cicinho ROFLstomped Madrid’s left side for 90 minutes so bad that Cristiano was forced to stoop so low he had to defend (well, he tried, anyway). The RM game didn’t magically solve what is starting to look like a scoring problem for Sevilla, but when the score was still 0–0 late at the Riazor on Monday, the players had a belief—that certainty, or confidence, whatever you want to call it; a complete lack of panic—about them as they pressed forward that I think might not have been there if they’d gone from that 0–0 at Rayo to, say, 0–3 vs RM to 0–0 at 60’ vs Depor. The team had given itself reason to believe, so they did.

By that measure, this weekend’s game against Barcelona is probably not as crucial as the Madrid game: we’re not on the brink of disaster or coming off a potentially season-defining failure, and either we’ll win and the same story the team tells itself will continue to be true, or we’ll lose and…the story won’t change much, because Barcelona is really good, and Sevilla is doing pretty well, too. But that of course doesn’t change the fact that we’re playing one of the big two, one of the evil forces destroying our Liga. That they do so while trying to also appear morally irreproachable makes them all the more abhorrent as far as I’m concerned. So if we’re not going to just boycott games against these guys altogether, let’s kick their ass, or at least give them 90 minutes of hell. And also let’s play through to the final whistle—this year’s Barca loves winning on late goals, and I don’t really want to see that.