It is a day of firsts! Sevilla’s first league game of 2018; the first Gran Derbi of the season; the first taste of what this means for our summer signings; and last but not least, Vincenzo Motella’s first game in charge of his team at the iconic Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. The term ‘baptism of fire’ gets used quite a lot, but today will surely be just that.
Now as we all know, even fairly routine Sevilla games are almost impossible to predict. And a general rule of thumb for local and fierce derby matches around the world is, “don’t even look at the form table, as it means nothing”. So we won’t, which for us is just as well, because we have been pretty woeful of late. How much of that poor form was down to Berizzo and a broken dressing room/team spirit, only time will tell…
Today though is a perfect time to look ahead. Yet another new beginning (we are getting used to those), and hopefully the start of a long and prosperous reign for Montella and Maresca, with silverware never far away. Realistically it will be very hard to emulate the glory of the past 10 years or so. With the added pressure of the reigns of Juande Ramos and Unai Emery still fresh in the memory, the benchmark as to which all new coaches will be judged on has been well and truly set. Montella may not equal their success with trophies, but the level of hard work, intensity and exciting football that helped bring us that glory is now the bare minimum that passionate Sevillistas expect.
Montella’s pre-match press conferences have showed that he is in no doubt what is expected of him tonight.
“All of the players and coaches live for these experiences. From my first meeting with the president, I understood what this derby meant.
“I recently went out in the city for dinner and many people told me we have to win so I know the importance.”
Interestingly, ex coach Sampaoli was present at our final training session yesterday, so whatever words of wisdom and experience he has passed on I am sure would have been greatly welcomed.
So tonight, Betis have the advantage of going into the game with no pressure at all, and will probably sit back and let Sevilla have the ball. All the pressure is on us, and with the new coach no one is really sure what to expect from us as regards formation, or tactics. So wisely I would suspect Betis will wait and see what we have to throw at them before deciding what they will throw back at us, with a cagey first half going in at 0-0 a very real prospect. The only certainty before the match is emotions and tensions will be running high in the stands and on the pitch, and which team deals best with that pressure will likely be the one who comes out on top.
Montella was also quoted as saying “Betis are the favorites” to win! One presumes this is just a classic Jedi mind trick to ensure our players don’t become complacent, whilst attempting to lure their players into a false sense of security. If the players are complacent then I am sure the home fans will ensure they know all about it when they step out on to the turf under the lights, with the Himno blasting out.
So let’s hope that in this day of ‘firsts’ that it is not the day we witness the first derbi win for Betis in La Liga since 2012! However, if we play the way we know we can then we will keep our proud and dominant record intact. So now more than ever my fellow Sevillistas, please fasten your seat-belts as things could get a little bumpy!
In the 18 man squad there is no room for Ganso, who I wouldn’t be surprised to see back in Brazil before the end of January, and only two out and out strikers to choose from in Ben Yedder and Muriel. Apart from that we have a fairly strong team to choose from, and I suspect we will rely heavily on the experience of Banega, Navas and Nolito in order to come away with the three points and bragging rights. As expected N’Zonzi is available to play again, and it will be interesting to see if he can rise above the pressures surrounding him and put in a performance we know he is capable of.
How do you suspect Montella will line us up tonight?
Looking forward to hearing your suggestions below
¡Vamos mi Sevilla!