Look, every time Sevilla wins, it’s good. It feels like a minor miracle. There should maybe be parades. But Friday’s win was particularly great because of a bunch of other results involving teams above them on the table. First, Levante drew with Sociedad, which is great because they’re both ahead of us on the table, and both dropped points. And Rayo lost to Real Madrid, which is also great because Rayo is one of the teams between us and Europa. And THEN Betis went and lost to Espanyol, which is great because ditto the whole Europa thing but also: BETIS LOST. Mmm, it’s delicious every time I say it. Anyway, all those results mean we moved up to 10th today, and that got me thinking about our status on the table, and before I knew it I was conjecturing, imagining, dreaming, and guessing about a LOT of things. And then I had a big old post. So if you enjoy reading lots of mostly baseless speculation in order to arrive at the conclusion that Sevilla would do well to win points from the games they play, WELL THEN READ ON!
Category Archives: La Liga en general
As Monchi’s Men reported nearly two years ago and earlier this summer, Ibrahim Afellay has been loaned to Schalke 04 after an at times promising but largely ineffective stint watching Barca’s megastars from the bench. As we first reported the day he signed for Bareclona, Afellay leaves the club after a frustrating time of playing very well but never being good enough to overcome the first XI of expensive and highly-paid footballers, which anyone with eyes could see would happen during his stint with one of the biggest-spending clubs in the world. The transfer to the German club sees the talented midfielder head to the kind of club he should have signed for 18 months ago, as we noted at the time. As we explained at the beginning of the summer, his chances of becoming more than a really well-paid fan with a spectacular seat who occasionally got to stand on the field when games were beyond doubt were futher destroyed by the arrival of the next crop of Barca youngsters, a development that could be foreseen by basically any thinking person when Afellay signed for the club, as we detailed that very day as well as earlier this summer, when we were the first to report on this matter, out-reporting Marca, EMD, and Sport by 18 months.
One reason this place always gets so quiet in the offseason is that we writers get busy with other projects (examples from the writers this summer: starting a new job, moving, travel, producing original community theater, etc). Another is that I can’t stand transfer season. I don’t enjoy the endless speculation, the wild click-bait headlines which produce their own click-bait headline-denying headlines, and the long-winded fantasies of what amazing players might come this year…if only money, geography, and possibly the space-time continuum weren’t factors (“What are Sevilla’s chances of signing a 1974 Maradona? What about a 2036 Bambinho? Click here to learn more!!!” (Terribly, terribly, really, terribly sorry about that. Ugh, I feel just awful about that. Really sorry.)).
But a paragraph by Kxevin in a post over at Barcelona Football Blog got me thinking, and thinking got me writing, and before I knew it, I had an offseason post. Kxevin writes that this summer Barca must:
Make a decision on Afellay. His talent is immense. His playing time will be minimal. He has skills as a winger, ball handler and attacker and is a unique player. The question is whether he is a unique player who will be happy with the playing time scraps that he will be getting from us next season. I am in favor of keeping him, as I think he does things that Cuenca/Tello can’t do. But if we keep him, we are going to have to actually use him, and integrate him into the side so that he isn’t Stranger in a Strange Land when he comes in. You could see him as part of an attacking trident that included Villa and Sanchez, or in midfield with Thiago for Copa matches and the like.
It’s an interesting problem Barca have with Afellay: they bought a very good player for very little money, and presumably believe he could become something great. But is there room for him in the squad? How do they develop him? How do they even play him at all? What’s his use in the squad? As Kxevin notes, he has a lot of talent and very little opportunity to play; a terrible combination for any player. If you’re a long-time reader of this space, it won’t surprise you that the above paragraph reminded me of when Barca signed Afellay, and of our response at the time, and of the conversation with Barca fans that happened both in the comments of that post and over at BFB. If you don’t feel like reading through internet comments of partisan soccer blogs (which would mean that you are an intelligent, reasonable person with important real-life things to attend to), I’ll summarize the exchange. On both sites, Sevilla fans lamented their club having followed Afellay closely for some time, only to have a much bigger club swoop in and grab him up; we lamented the loss of the player but also the likely loss of his chances to develop into a great player. Barca fans pointed out that Afellay was free to go where he wanted, and that Barca was free to sign who they wanted, and that finally Afellay very well could develop into a star within the confines of FCB. That led to a further discussion that gets at the point of this post, which feels like it needs its own paragraph (and this is getting long, so what the heck–let’s throw a jump in as well!).
As you may have already heard, Monchi–the man, the myth, the namesake of this blog–has joined Twitter. Normally I don’t get worked up when a new face comes to a social network, but Monchi’s arrival has been something special. Obviously, Monchi is widely seen as being a key figure in Sevilla’s glorious start to the 21st century, and his ability to find low-cost, promising talents where no one else was looking, develop them into stars in the process of winning SFC hardware, and then sell them off at a great profit is legendary. The opportunity to get any insight into how he thinks and sees the game is an incredible chance to understand the game and the inner workings of a truly unique and model club in European football, but of course top-level executives at clubs would never share anything interesting in a public forum like Twitter, right? (For the thrilling answer to this question read on…)
I’m very excited to announce that Aaron and I wrote a guest post over at Forza Football’s fantastic site. In it, we discuss the transfer season and in particular Sevilla’s needs, wish list, and realities. Given how quickly Sevilla has gotten started this off-season, the content was already a bit behind the times in the day between when we wrote it and it was posted (during which time the club signed Diego Lopez and finalized the signing of Rabello), but that’s a good problem to have, instead of having to wait until the end of July for the team to make some moves. We certainly haven’t kept up with all the developments here, but the post there covers a lot of the latest news, so definitely run on over and check out both our article and all the other great content they’ve got on their site.
Anyway, hopefully we’ll have a few updates and retrospectives in the coming weeks, but I know that Aaron and I at least are a bit busy, so don’t hold your breaths. And if you’re a regular commenter who’d like to write something, definitely let us know, or at least keep the comments section popping!
OK guys. This season has been…. rough. Jeremy served up the sobering reminder of who we are as Sevilla fans and what expectations are reasonable. And then, with some help from the officiating, Real Madrid helped to reinforce that reminder.
And yet, this week actually went better than we could have possibly expected. We never realistically could have expected more than a loss away at RM. And yet every team above us with whom we are competing for a Europa spot, dropped points. Forget about Levante, Malaga, and Valencia. What we need is to finish in the top 7 (or ideally 6).
To finish seventh, we have to pass two of the following 3 teams: Bilbao, Atletico, or Osasuna. That is still very possible.
Look at the remaining games for each team (home games in caps):
- Atletico (49 pts): SOCIEDAD, MALAGA, Villareal
- Bilbao (48 pts): REAL MADRID, GETAFE, Levante
- Osasuna (48 pts): Valencia, SOCIEDAD, Santander
- Sevilla (46 pts): BETIS, RAYO, Espanyol
Of all these teams, we probably have the easiest schedule. Additionally, Bilbao and Atletico are playing each other in the Europa final AND Bilbao is in the Copa del Rey final.
I’m also curious on what happens if Atletico wins Europa, but Bilbao wins CdR. Does anyone know exactly how all these scenarios could play out? Is it possible to finish 8th and get a Europa spot?
Anyway, the bottom line is that the critical week is actually next weekend while Osasuna goes up against Valencia who are fighting hard for 3rd, and Bilbao host Real Madrid who have nothing else left to focus on (hahaha). If they both lose and we win, then we’d at least be in 7th.
This season isn’t over yet. We still have a LOT to play for and I truly believe that we could still pull this off.
Put your guesses for the top 9 spots in the comments.
Keep the faith. Vamos mi Sevilla!
A few interesting pieces of information have crept their way past my Twitter feed this morning, so I thought I’d post a brief update:
- Perotti tried his best, but could not recover from his injury and will not be fit in time for this weekend’s clash with Real Madrid. Sad face, obviously. Let’s all think longingly about the great success of Diego Capel, whose absence I’ll address in #3 below. That’s right, I’m teasing information in a three-point summary article.
- Word on the street is that Atletico and Sevilla have reached an agreement in principle for former Sevillista Antonio Reyes. Aaron and I discussed this possible signing toward the end of our most recent visit to the Forza Football podcast, and we and hosts Ravi and Elisa all agreed that probably he’s not the cure for what ails us, but we’ll see. Anyway, the report’s alleged fee: 3 million. Anticipated on-field impact: at least 3 more team total dives/game. Possible transfer impact: with Manu and Perotti already playing on the left wing, Navas a rock on the right, and Reyes probably not coming for the bench time, does this signal the exit of Perotti?!? I have no idea.
- Finally, live at the very moment of this writing is Sevilla’s Junta General de Accionistas, which among other things is one of the times when Del Nido gets behind a mic and drops 2 or 3 great looks into the workings of the club, often giving some insight into past decisions and obviously fueling lots of speculation about possible future moves. Thus far, the most interesting tidbit is that failing to qualify for the Champions League cost the club 30 million euros, and that the subsequent departure of some of our talent helped alleviate the shortfall. Del Nido specifically mentions fees coming in from the sales of Adriano, Konko, Zokora, Squillaci, and Sergio Sanchez, which is HALF of our starting lineup from not very long ago, and doesn’t include the loss of Capel. Not news, exactly, but the amount of income lost is pretty staggering (that’s about one third of our reported annual budget), and as we suspected this helps explain the loss of some pretty good players over the summer. The included link has the transcript of his entire talk, which also covers old chestnuts like TV revenue and some other things that won’t be news to long-time Sevilla fans. Worth a read.
So then, tomorrow we’ll have a tough match, and then only the return CdR leg before we go into La Liga’s wintertime nap. Here’s hoping the team gives itself sweet dreams in the next week.
UPDATE: Because I love you guys so much, and because there’s so much good stuff in here, I’ve translated a few more parts of the speech for you non-Spanish speakers. this is just a great look at how a real club, bounded by actual financial realities and limitations, makes sporting and financial decisions. We talk a lot about having a fair TV deal around here, and this discussion from Del Nido encapsulates the VAST gap between clubs who have to think about money in order to survive, and those who few can speculatively spend 30 million euros on a player who might prove to be good. The translation after the cut:
Here’s an absurdly long essay featuring some of my thoughts on what it means to follow a mega-club, feeling ambiguous about your club’s success and operations, and how I see Barcelona and Real Madrid. This is kind of a collection and summation of thoughts I’ve had over the last couple years of watching the ongoing TV revenue saga unfold, and in particular in response to the big two crushing the totally awesome RevoluciónDelNido with back-room politics and intimidation. It’s way too many words to put on the front page, so this post is going to need a jump.
…Cue the jump:
I’m burying my own post here, but this is EXCITING NEWS–this morning Forza Fútbol released their latest podcast, this one featuring our very own Aaron partnering with Bético and author of the fantastic Ooh Betis, Adam. This was recorded before the strike had been made official, but the good news is that you can listen this weekend to fill the gaping hole in your heart where the derbi should have been, and then listen to it AGAIN to get you pumped for the game whenever it’s played.
Also, we’d like to send a huge thanks to the crew at Forza Fútbol for including us on their great podcast– we’re looking forward to working together again sometime!
Piqué says Mourinho is ruining Spanish soccer. As if there has never been tension in the clásico before. Or pig’s heads thrown or anything. What’s really ruining it is Madrid and Barcelona. Not so much because of episodes like last night but because of their stranglehold on the game – their economic and political power and their continued failure to contemplate the consequences of their actions.
- Barcelona’s quotes after Clásicos have always struck me as a bit strange; either they’re all involved in an elaborate, ironic joke just to troll the entire world, or they genuinely don’t realize that they are also always involved in the fights, sniping, and general ugliness. And while in general I wish Sid Lowe would spend more time talking about the other 18 teams in La Liga (admittedly, he does more of this than probably anyone), I loved this quote from his Supercopa wrap-up. “Ruining”. Exactly.
- I thought the biggest story in the press conference in which Del Nido said Gio is definitely not coming wasn’t that we’re not looking to sign the Tottenham forward, but rather that we’ve been in contact for two weeks now with some other club for some other player that no one in the press has mentioned. I’m obviously not sure who that team or player is, and I doubt this story is based on any super concrete facts, but the possibility of Afellay coming on a loan is a very interesting one indeed–he’s a fantastic attacking player, we obviously tried very hard to sign him last year, and he’s nearly guaranteed to spend endless hours on the bench watching Pedro and Alexis fight it out for the spot he was most likely to occupy for Barcelona. Will this be the year Afellay becomes Barcelona’s Canales? It’s an interesting idea for Sevilla; we’ll see.
- Finally, just wanted to point out what you’ve probably already realized: with the planned early September international break, the LFP strike for the first two weeks of the season actually pushes back the first game of the season a third week, to September 11. When we take on Villarreal…hopefully by then we’ll have our roster finalized and ready to go!