Wednesday, January 19

Kicked in Real Madrid – can cheat them for the title

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It has been almost 76 years since Sevilla won the LaLiga, something they only succeeded once in 1945-46. Then LaLiga consisted of only 14 teams and 26 games, and a victory gave two points instead of three.

The last time Sevilla even finished a season in second place in the league was almost 65 years ago.

So is it really likely to think they have any chance this year? Can Sevilla really challenge for a place on the Spanish throne?

Real Madrid’s biggest challenger

With half the season played, they at least seem to be the only team that can challenge Real Madrid for the title. Sevilla are, with one game less played, only five points behind “Los Blancos”, while they have eight points down to arch-rival Real Betis in third place. They are nine points ahead of Atlético Madrid and ten ahead of Barcelona.

In terms of points, it is the second best first half of a season in Sevilla’s history. They have scraped together 41 points and lost only two games – another record, as the club has never before lost so few games during the first half of the season.

In 19 games, they have conceded just 13 goals, fewer than any other team in Europe’s five biggest leagues.

– It is a long way to go, without a doubt, but this Sevilla team looks very good. The second part of the season is very long, but the first thing the players have to do now is believe that they can fight for the league title and become champions. Right now the numbers are there and they are the only team that can hang on Madrid, said former Sevilla goalkeeper Andres Palop in an analysis of the situation for El País.

The ambitions in the wardrobe are not lacking either. After renewing his contract with the club until 2024, Fernando Reges recently said:

– I have to win more titles with Sevilla. We compete well among the top four, but I think we should win more titles.

– They took my biggest dream from me

Sevilla have long been part of the top four in Spain, but despite their dominance in the Europa League, they often end up almost forgotten in the shadow of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid.

When most people hear the name Julen Lopetegui, they do not think of a coach who in three seasons has won the Europa League and qualified Sevilla for the Champions League twice. Nor on a coach who has the highest percentage of victories (58.5%) in Sevilla’s history.

When most people hear the name Julen Lopetegui, they think of a coach who was fired from the Spanish national team on the same day as the 2018 World Cup started. By then he had accepted a job at Real Madrid, a job he was also fired from just 137 days later.

Monchi is perhaps the world’s most famous sports director who almost never seems to be able to do anything wrong. Sevilla’s sporting director has received greater praise than most players can even dream of.

APPRECIATED: Sevilla’s sporting director, Monchi, is highly valued among supporters. Photo: Miguel Angel Morenatti

But when in the summer of 2019 he not only chose to give Lopetegui the coaching job, but also give him a three-year contract – the longest he has ever given a coach – many Sevilla fans began to wonder if Monchi had lost the magic.

Lopetegui, Spain’s then most infamous coach, the one who left the Spanish national team, could not be the right choice for Sevilla?

The first thing Lopetegui had to do when he was introduced to the club was to defend himself.

– I did not leave, they fired me. They took my biggest dream from me, I left nothing, he insisted.

Monchi did not see Lopetegui as the coach he had been portrayed as in recent months in the Spanish media. Instead, he saw a coach with a desire to bring out young players, with a vision, flexibility and accuracy.

– More than anything else, he must succeed, Monchi said at Lopetegui’s presentation.

He had a point. Lopetegui was in a situation where his career could not cope with another failure, as he was a coach looking for a redress.

CAN TAKE GOLD: Julen Lopetegui may be the first Sevilla manager in 76 years to take the LaLiga title.  Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS

CAN TAKE GOLD: Julen Lopetegui may be the first Sevilla manager in 76 years to take the LaLiga title. Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS

In Seville today, people look at Lopetegui differently, and they have realized that Monchi was once again right. Together they have created a squad and a team that is a bit of a chameleon. They can adapt to different situations and almost always manage.

“Lopetegui moves the pieces, he changes systems and the players react” says Palop, and continues:

– It gives me enormous joy and hope that Sevilla can lift LaLiga. It is a title that will undoubtedly go down in the history books.

Reference-www.tv2.no

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