In his excellent weekend recap, Sid Lowe covers the elated afterglow of the Sevilla’s 2–2 draw with Barcelona. “A draw that tastes like a win”, it was reasonably and probably accurately called by the executive types in the director’s box. And why not? There was the comeback, of course, and there was the sense that we’d more than stood our ground against the giants, if not exactly slayed them. And there was something of a redemption of our unbeaten streak: every time Sevilla’s year-long unbeaten home streak was mentioned lately, there was always a hastily added asterisk (“haven’t played Barcelona or Real Madrid at home this season”) that undermined the accomplishment while also underlining the sense that the 18 teams in La Liga that aren’t the big two are sort of a cakewalk. Half of that asterisk has been removed with Saturday’s result, and the opportunity to claim complete invincibility against anyone in Spain comes in less than 3 weeks when Real Madrid comes to town.
But there are 5 (!) games between now and that game, starting with Zenit St Peterspurg’s visit to the previously mentioned impenetrable fortress, the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Zenit will of course be a formidable foe, but from a certain perspective this looks like a good matchup for Sevilla: with literal home field advantage of the RSP comebined with the figurative home field advantage of this sort of being Sevilla’s tournament, I’d think Sevilla will be favored to win, and maybe even win handily enough to give ZSP a particularly difficult job in the return leg. On the other hand, though, ZSP are handily winning the Russian league, and were able to rest tons of key players this weekend. They’ll be ready, Hulk (who misses the game due to yellows) or no.
And so will we. Someone smarter than me will doubtless correctly predict the lineup in the comments, and someone else will get the score right. I’ll say 1–0; but mostly I’ll say VAMOOOOS!!!