Back in December, when Fernando Llorente rose like a salmon to nod what proved to be the winner over Juventus, the euro dream was well and truly back on! That goal, followed by news of Manchester City’s comeback against Borussia led to wild celebrations…
All those events did however was ensure that we had another stab at the much more winnable, yet less illustrious Europa League. With an incredible four of its trophies in the last ten years already sitting proudly in our cabinet, one might be forgiven for thinking we really could do without another this time, take it easy and focus on the league… try telling that to anyone of a Sevilla persuasion though, no less Unai Emery.
The truth is, the Europa League is like an old friend that we have become quite possessive of, and we’ll be damned if we are going to hand it over to another pretender to the throne anytime soon. Winning trophies is not something a football club can ever get bored of, and everyone at Sevilla FC surely has their sights firmly set on a fifth final.
Our love affair with this competition is going to continue for a while yet, it would seem.
So, first up on the road to Basel is Norwegian club Molde (pronounced with two syllables – “mold-uh”). A small city nestled in the Fjords, it has a population of that could easily all fit in the Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan with room to spare. So, given their small size and lowly stature, they are a team that on paper we should be beating easily, right? A bit of research however shows that their recent European form has been mightily impressive to say the least. Victories away to Fenerbache, Celtic and a draw at Ajax meant that they were good enough to finish 1st in their group. All of those teams, whilst not having the best of times, do have Champions League pedigree, so Molde really excelled themselves and surprised many.
Managed for the second time by ex Manchester United legend Ole Gunner Soljskaer, they also just signed former Barcelona and Chelsea striker Eidur Gudjohnsen. At 37 his best years are no doubt behind him, but his experience of the big occasion is something that will stand his team in good stead should he be selected to play. Incidentally, Gudjohnsen is still not the oldest member of their playing squad… That honour goes to Daniel Berg Hestad at the spritely age of 40 (the oldest player to score in the Europa League, the aftermath of which event is pictured above)!
With the first leg at home it would again be beneficial to try and put the tie to bed early, much in the manner of the Fiorentina and Celta Vigo games. Both of these were model examples of the perfect first leg. No goals conceded and big advantages to take into the second game. Conditions in Norway next Thursday will probably be more akin to those in Vigo last week, minus a few degrees, so I hope we can take at least a three goal advantage there. Too optimistic? Maybe so, but doable for sure.
One thing I am confident about is that Emery will be up for this, and will be determined to not allow complacency to creep in. Interestingly he has put Llorente back in the squad, so he might possibly get a game… hopefully we have the luxury of resting some for Rayo Vallecano away on Sunday lunch time
Possible Starting XI
Coke Rami Carrico Tremo
Vitolo Banega MKD
As usual though, with Emery who knows?! Let’s wait and see
Sevilla 3 Molde 1
Rami, Gameiro y Vitolo
So, a comfortable win with an element of doubt hanging over us going into the game next Thursday in Norway! At least we can’t ever complain supporting Sevilla is boring 🙂
What are your predictions?
¡VAMOS MI SEVILLA!