RM take the AVE north with another 2-6 win at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán today. Credit where credit is due: RM are clinical finishers. Sevilla are not at the moment. It appeared that VARAS and the defense had seen us past that 10-minute hurdle until Spahic was beaten backside by Ronaldo for the first of RM’s unfortunate six goals.
Sevilla kept generating chances and playing with fire, though, despite the early and mostly unmerited lead for the visitors. I was marveling at our punch-for-punch movement and ball control – especially up the right side between Cáceres, Trocho and Navas, who was constantly beating Marcelo up field to send in often dangerous balls.
Speaking of those balls, sometimes they just don’t go in. Try as we did and for as long as we did, our shots strayed into Iker’s hands and/or parried off the post or over the bar. Iker’s tremendous stretch save of a far-too-cautious Manu shot was the most flabbergasting. Manu had three steps to the ball to decide where to put it and how hard as he eased up on an open backside of the goal. Then, with a triumphant *Pfff* he pushed it at perfect height for Iker’s stretch to push it off the post. Shoot it a bit higher, goal. 1-1. Lower, goal. 1-1. The better save came just after, when Trocho sent a twisting ball low at the near post, which Iker one-handed around the post.
“GAHHH!!!!” “NOOOOO!!” “OMGOOOOOOSHHHHHFUUCKINGHELLLL!!!”
These are the sounds that near misses make in my living room.
A 2-6 result looks BAD on paper, but the match had its positives for Sevilla, who have shown much more continuity and creativity in attack over the last two weeks in spite of the last two results. I don’t remember last year’s 2-6 feeling like this. Today, we saw great play generated and lots of confidence on the ball. We were undone by poor finishing and unluck, which are things that can never be part of your postmatch if you hope to win against RM. Our worst player of the day is probably a tie between Spahic and Manu. Spahic has been solid all season, but was beaten badly a couple times by Ronaldo. Manu’s soft finishing makes him another dim spot, but he did link up decently to get Rakitic into dangerous areas sometimes.
Finally, let’s all take a moment and remember what Del Nido reminded us of this week: we are not a top club. We aspire to place in the Champions League, and when we do, we consider 4th place a successful season. Not placing in the CL and getting booted from the EL have undermined our season tremendously. We have been forced to sell/loan several players that we otherwise may have kept. Three of those players are strikers (Koné, Acosta and Rodri). When we cannot even fill out a 4-4-2 with two actual strikers, this is a serious technical deficiency for Marcelino to work around every week.
Losing this game 2-6 sucks, but our La Liga campaign is never won or lost based on our results against the top two teams; our season hinges on matches versus Sporting Gijón, Osasuna, and Espanyol. If we play the way we have been the last two matches against the above teams, we will win most of those matches. I hope the team feels they let this match get away from them. Maybe a little anger could be of use.