Sevilla v Manchester Utd. – Champions League Round of 16 – 1st Leg

Finally it has arrived! The big game that we knew about as far back as early December is now upon us. Berizzo got us to this stage of the competition, but now the baton has been passed to Montella to get us past the next challenge. And what a challenge it is, as two times Champions League winner Jose Mourinho brings his expensively assembled squad to the capital of Andaulicia for the first time in their history.

Writing this preview from the UK I have been infuriated, but not surprised by the sheer arrogance of the English media. Since the draw was made numerous ex -pros have plainly suggested that Man Utd will have no problems at all getting through, and that Sevilla are a team in decline who would struggle for survival should they play in the so called ‘best league in the world’. You would think the media over here would have been humbled slightly by the Europa League Final not two years ago? This alone should be a massive incentive for our boys to show them what Sevilla, and Spanish football in general, is made of.

Don’t get me wrong, Man Utd are the favourites to progress, and rightly so. They have won 5 of their 6 Champions League games this season (the highest), whilst we have won only 2 (the lowest), and we have conceded the highest amount of goals too. They have form on their side for sure, and they also have world class players throughout their team. Their current squad cost €747 Million to assemble (the third highest in Europe) whilst Sevilla’s cost a mere €160 Million (the 25th highest in Europe). So on paper, we are huge underdogs, especially over two legs.

However none of these statistics mean a thing to Sevillistas, and we should go into the game with no fear. We have the ability to exploit their weaknesses, and the home crowd will be our 12th man as usual. Added to that we have our main men back in the squad, and some of our new ones too (with surprising shirt numbers!). Corchia the only probable starter who is missing from the list.

One would suspect we will go with the same starting XI that served us well in the Copa del Rey 2nd leg.

As for score predictions, I couldn’t possibly guess. Our record against English clubs hasn’t been great at the RSP in recent years.. Manchester City and Liverpool both scored 3 goals against us with ease, so if we can keep it tight at the back we have a chance to take a positive result to Manchester in two weeks time.

Another big European night under the lights awaits us