Sevilla look to cups as league campaign disintegrates

Sevilla agony

Sevilla will contest the Copa del Rey final this month while their Champions League quarter final against Bayern Munich was their first appearance at that stage of the competition for 60 years. It has been an odd season for the club, with fantastic results in cup competitions interspersed into a terrible league campaign.

Saturday’s 4-0 thumping at Celta Vigo ensured they fell three points behind city rivals Real Betis in the race for Europe and that they’ve won just one point in their last four outings. Goals from Franco Vazquez and Luis Muriel brought a draw with Barcelona, but even in that game they collapsed late on to cede points.

In this calendar year alone, since Vincenzo Montella was appointed to replace Eduardo Berizzo, Sevilla have conceded five goals on three separate occasions. The 4-0 reverse in Vigo was the latest in an increasing line of embarrassing results. None will top the 5-3 loss at home to Real Betis in early January – their first league derby loss in 10 – but the 5-1 capitulation at Eibar and 5-2 defeat at home to Atletico Madrid come close.

This is not all the fault of the Italian – there was a 4-0 defeat at Valencia, 5-1 at Spartak Moscow and 5-0 at Real Madrid – but his position is looking increasingly insecure. Berizzo’s return of 29 points from 17 matches was decent if unspectacular, but Montella’s version has added just 17 from 14 outings.

His position is not safe and may need either an unlikely Copa triumph over Barca or a late resurgence in league form to salvage what could be a hugely damaging campaign. Monchi’s departure at the end of the season felt like a pivotal moment – the sporting director left for Roma after 17 uninterrupted years in the position.

His successor, Oscar Arias – Monchi’s previous number two – has failed to immediately impress. 12 players have been added this season, but none have been comprehensive success stories so far. The January arrivals of Sandro Ramirez and Roque Mesa in particularly hinted at a lack of cohesion, with both loan signings failing to integrate into the starting eleven.

Sevilla have had their moments. They were truly magnificent in their two legs against Manchester United and, in the Copa, against Atletico Madrid. Recently they were the better side for long spells against both Barcelona and Bayern Munich. They are more than capable of winning the Copa and recovering a top six finish. But Montella and Arias are feeling the pressure and need consistency to be guaranteed a longer term future.

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