Sevilla v Girona – La Liga – Week 23

After the euphoria of reaching our 17th Cup Final in what has been an absolutely incredible twelve years, it is back to the more mundane but equally important business of La Liga this weekend.

With Champions League qualification slowly slipping from our grasp, now is the time to put April 21st to the back of our minds, and fully focus on the arrival of FC Girona, who have been far and away the surprise package of the season for sure. They are currently sitting in 9th place, only 2 points behind us, and will fancy their chances of making their own claim for European Qualification.

The last time Girona visited the city they left heartbroken after taking a 94th minute lead over Real Betis, only for a 95th minute equalizer spoiling their party. They will surely fancy their chances of going one better this time around, and a win would see them leap-frog us. We simply cannot allow that to happen at this stage of the season.

Take a look at how tight things are from 3rd all the way down to 12th!! Athletic Bilbao could also enter that list of teams later tonight (Friday) when they host lowly and relegation doomed Las Palmas.

So quite clearly, we are only a defeat or two away from being dragged into a mid-table dog fight, whereas a few consecutive wins could see us back in the race for Champions League qualification. It is really that finely balanced and could go either way at the moment. This is a pivotal point of the season and we simply cannot afford to fail. Talk of the final should be banned!

Team news will be posted here as and when it becomes available, but one thing we know for sure is Ever Banega will be missing due to a hamstring injury he picked up in the latter stages of Wednesday night’s game. If it is just a standard hamstring injury his focus will be on returning for at least one of the two Manchester Utd games. Get well soon Ever! Franco Vazquez could also do with a rest after completing 90 minutes last time out. Saying that, he looks permanently shattered, so maybe he will get a start again, as Montella seems to really like him.

How do you think we will line up? Time to rest some regulars, or keep the momentum going? Is Banega’s injury the opportunity for Roque Mesa to shine? Does Nico Pareja deserve another chance after the horror show vrs Eibar?

We have already beaten Girona 1-0 last September, with Muriel scoring the decisive goal. A repeat scoreline would be more than welcome on Sunday afternoon.



Notable Replies

  1. Good post :wink:
    Well we are ony 6 points off CL spot and many games to play, if we continue to progress like we are we can only hope the teams above have a stutter! I think RM will jump to 3rd and that leaves us competing with Villareal & Valencia. We lost touch with our away form, which now needs to improve, but I do think the Jan window purchases will help steady the ship, not necessarily all on the pitch at once right now, but Roque Mesa can be instrumental as replacement for Nenega who will be out for around 2 weeks, and Sandro as cover or sub for Muriel as he has a lot of work rate much like Muriel, Ben Yedder will suffer because he does not run and work like the others and Montella system relies on high pressure and closing.
    As for the defence, i’d keep it same with Mercado sitting in next to Lenglet for now, Pareja is experienced but cannot cover the ground like he used to although his reading of the game has been his spotlight during his career.
    As for Vazquez, I am not a great lover of him, he always seems like he’s shattered from the start of games & just glides around like he’s out walking his dog on a Sunday stroll, I don’t know what the coach’s see in him so maybe he works hard in training but for me i’d like to see Ganso given a chance but doubt that will happen any time soon…

  2. You say if we “continue to progress like we are…” I am not sure we are progressing when it comes to the league? Since Montella has came in we have W 1 D 1 and L 3 in the league, conceding 12 scoring 8

    After Español away I was quite excited that we had turned the corner, but failing to see off Getafe and then the humiliation by Eibar I am more likely to look below us in the table than above.

    We have been fortunate that Valencia have had a poor run of form, but I doubt that will continue for very long.

    If in the next couple of games he can turn that around to W 3 D 1 L 3 then I will be a bit more optimistic.

    It would be fine if we just treated EVERY game like a cup tie :slight_smile:

  3. Brian says:

    I can see the enforced change being a straight swap of Pizarro for Benega and then keeping the same other 10 that started against Leganes. Hopefully Montella saw enough of Pareja last week to realise that this guy is past it.
    As jonjar says this is a big game and a must win on Sunday, it’s getting very tight around the 6th- 11th places. I feel the time to rest a couple of players will be the following game away to Las Palmas before the Man utd game.

    We then have 4 very big liga games coming up this next few weeks.

    Atletico home
    Malaga away
    Athletic home
    Valencia home

    These 4 games could play a big part in where we finish. Win 3 out of 4 of these and I will be ecstatic.

  4. La liga have changed the dates of Sevilla - Real Madrid and Barcelona scheduled for April 21/22 to the 9th May. This comes just two days before they meet with Sevilla and Barcelona to agree the venue for the cup final.

    They have in effect removed a major obstacle to changing the date of the cup final which would have seen both Betis and Sevilla fans in Madrid if the venue were to be Wanda Metropolitana.
    What is going on, I are they configuring for or against Wanda M?

    Alaves leading Villarreal 0-1, ref blow your whistle now.

  5. Brian says:

    Alaves win 2-1 We are still waiting for Barca to decide when and where they would like to play the final.

  6. ShendM says:

    Winning this and the one vs. Las Palmas next week would be a good start to something good. If we fail to get 6 points in the next 2 matches, then we can only hope to remain in the EL places for the next season.

  7. Brian says:

    More important now that we win against Girona. Eibar have just beaten Leganes earlier this evening 1-0 with a goal in the 94th minute to go 2points ahead and push us down to 7th. If we lose & Celta beat Espanyol we are down to 9th, possibly 10th if Betis beat Depor on Monday.

  8. Big 3 pointer today, and with Villareal slipping up, it would be nice for Valencia to have a little stutter later tonight and that would set us up nicely over next few games to get back in the CL chasing pack…Gotta think positively :wink:

  9. ShendM says:

    The second half was a bit dull, but 3 points are 3 points and one could tell the team was a bit exhausted from the semis of CDR. This is a brilliant first team line up, though obviously we’ve missed Banega a lot.

    Probably Rico’s performance of the career today… I hope this gives him enough momentum to carry on like this until the end of the season before we sign a goalie to seriously compete with him.

    Next week’s match vs. Las Palmas in the Canary will be the calm before the storm, starting with Man Utd, so a victory would’ve been great there, or at least not losing!


  10. Just watched the highlights.

    Rico was stunning. And holy shit what a ball by Lenglet.

  11. Mark_L says:

    Seen the highlights too. Rico was man of the match. Fair play to him. He’s had a few poor games but he well and truly made up for it!

    Very happy for him. Plus an important win for the team!

  12. Not the greatest of games you’ll ever watch but a game where 1 person had to raise their game and inspire the others to victory, today that man was Rico!
    We were solid, and like most other teams that come to the RSP, they never really looked like they wanted 3 points but sole mission was to play out for a draw and hope to snatch something, which nearly happened, nobody appealed their penalty that I seen and the ref’s lately don’t seem to be wanting to give a lot our way…hope that changes soon though!

  13. Edinho says:

    Had to watch a late recording of this match, and madre mia what a game by Rico! I don’t think he’s saved a penalty since… NEVER!? He won us those 3 points as opposed to giving 2 away with that blunder vs Getafe. Way to turn things around Rico. Give this man an In-Form card!

    Like y’all mentioned, it wasn’t the greatest of games, but i’m starting to see the players getting more familiar with one another. They’re finding it easier to get in dangerous pockets of space in the opposition’s territory. Muriel has regained his confidence and is running at these defenders, Sarabia is constantly getting himself on the scoresheet (one way or another), and Lenglet seems to have picked up a thing or two from Pareja with that pass over the defence.

    Rico had a great game in goal, but at the same time it’s scary if we gave up those chances to the likes or Lukaku, Sanchez or Martial. This is still a work in progress, so i’ll take these results game by game. Las Palmas will offer a different challenge, and i’m sure Mesa will compete his hardest in training this week to start in that fixture. Guido did his best to give the midfield a different look today, but i feel Mesa could provide more. Appearance aside, Nzonzi & Guido have far too similar profiles for that double pivot to be dynamic. But again, let’s see what happens. We’re gaining ground on 5th place, and still in the fight for 4th. We can do this.


  14. Did anyone else see the Valencia game last night?

    Levante took a 2-1 lead before the ref disallowed it for a foul on the Valencia player… replay’s showed it was a push by how OWN PLAYER!

    Valencia straight from that free kick go down the other end and score. Game over.

  15. ShendM says:

    Glad he didn’t watch Muriel pointing to his left, phew…

  16. Brian says:

    Some observations of the game.
    As I stated in another post I sit quite near the front of the fondo almost in line with the north goal penalty spot.
    What I frustrated me numerous times during the 1st half was Muriel making space for himself, waving his arm in the air and crying out to Mudo or Sarabia for a quick forward pass to run on to, but he was ignored every time and the same predictable pass was sent out wide to Correa who more often than not ran into a defender and lost the ball.
    Pizarro gave the ball away almost every time he received it by passing to the opposition.
    Rico went from zero to hero with the pen save and a couple more great saves during the 2nd half which will have done his confidence the world of good.
    I didn’t see the incident that led to the pen as I was too far away and nobody around me could understand why it was given, but watching a replay later on tv I thought that it was a very harsh decision.
    Not seen enough of Layun yet to form a proper opinion but he’s not been impressive so far at defending, when faced with an attacking player he just seems to stick out a leg, hope for the best then watch him run past. (Maybe he’s better going forward?)
    Lenglet & Mercardo were both solid at the back, together with Navas.& Escudero,
    Sarabia & Mudo were ok.
    Not a great performance overall but a win is a win & keeps us in the fight for a European slot.

    Hopefully Banega & Muriel will be back to face Manure.

  17. Brian says:

    I watched it and agree the ref got it totally wrong on the disallowed goal by Koke.
    BTW Is it only me that would like to slap Santi Mina every time he celebrates a goal? It’s nearly worse than Ronaldo & griezmann put together

  18. ShendM says:

    Definitely need to see some tackling and more aggressive defending from Layun!

  19. I’ve got a few observations too, maybe not so optimistic.

    I went to the game, and watched the recording later (because I couldn’t believe some of the things I saw)

    First I’ve got to say that Rico was exceptional, massive ‘bien’ from the crowd when he headed a ball safe, had the crowd behind him. He didn’t save that penalty, he gave a Ninja Zen perfection demonstration of how to save a penalty, making the ball land way out to his right where it’s usually safe. But alas, I can’t remember more than three games where’s he’s been anywhere near that level.

    When a player receives a pass in a tight situation he’s got 3 options, pass, run with the ball or dribble. Unfortunately, Vazquez only has one of those in his repertoire and it’s dribble. He’s OK in space and does the running and passing but can’t resist the touches to get out of trouble. Banega is not far behind in that respect.

    I should have congratulated Leganes for the clean fought cup games and was reminded by the stark difference in Girona that many teams are diving when they feel a hand on their back or breath on their neck, Girona, Betis and Valencia are in that league.

    Don’t know how we beat Atletico home and away with our football, there’s really no explaining football sometimes. But taking away the Eibar disaster (tactical error) and the Derby (inexplicable) Montella’s record is looking better. But the football isn’t. We have arguably the best 24 players in our history (we haven’t seen the Brazilian) but we are playing the most unimaginative football. We won our first 5 games without impressing, but haven’t improved the unimpressing football, it’s got worse, except for the second half against Liverpool (games do have two halves).

    Fed up of the round the houses football, never through the centre except for low payback flicks and backheels (what players do when they’re desperate). Exception to that is when Muriel runs with the ball, he is direct on steroids.

    Sarabia was the best player in terms of workrate and solving defensive problems but going forward was mistaken in almost every contribution, thank goodness that he put that Correa goal away because the ref wasn’t going to award it.

  20. I know what you mean about Vazquez Tim, for someone playing behind the striker he’s too damn lazy & relaxed for my liking. Very talented player, I can see that but he reminds me a little of Berbatov, but he really needs to add something more to his game because we are lacking something there.
    And you forgot to mention Pizarro and his sloppy passing, or was it just me that noticed this? I would have much rather have seen Roque Mesa or Geis get a chance.
    Sarabia Can actually play just behind the striker and I do think that with Layun pushing for s starting role, Navas would naturally push up on the right of midfield and I’d like to see Sarabia given that free role just behind Muriel.
    But that’s just me being the coach from the stands i guess…

  21. Edinho says:

    I too want to see Sarabia in that role, but the few times he’s been given the chance, he hasn’t impressed. Obviously he was never a starter there, he was either subbed in or shifted there mid-game. The only good reference i have is the 1st Liverpool game where he was subbed in for Pizarro. He gave the midfield a different look, adding mobility & technical ability, but misplaced way too many passes.

    I wouldn’t judge him solely on that performance, cause it didn’t feel like the usual Sarabia we see play. So i’d give him the benefit of the doubt and just blame it on Berizzo’s tactics.

  22. Vamos PSG. Emery’s guys getting the first goal against Real Madrid. Hope Madrid are real angry and seek vengeance against Betis in la liga.

  23. Brian says:

    Unfortunately yet another ref favouring Madrid :roll_eyes:

  24. Good news! Muriel’s injury is not as bad as first feared, and he is back in training after a couple of days rest :slight_smile:

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