Back in November there were fanciful suggestions that Sevilla could challenge for this season’s La Liga title. Those questions have long since vanished and the question is now whether they can maintain their position in the top four this season.
This would still represent success for the club of course, yet despite having a relatively strong campaign to date there are a number of underlying issues which continually reoccur to undermine their loftier ambitions. Saturday’s loss at Celta Vigo ensured they still had not won away from home in the league since September and they are now 14 points off the top.
That is a run lasting each games and Pablo Machin’s side are now without a point or a goal in their last three away matches. That run has included defeats at both Athletic Club Bilbao and Real Madrid. Incredibly, Sevilla have now won away to either of those sides in the past seven seasons nor have they won at Barcelona, Valencia or Atletico Madrid in that timeframe. Indeed, they have collected just four points from a possible 102 in that period.
This is a world away from Sevilla’s home form – they are unbeaten in the league at their Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan home since a September loss to Getafe, winning seven of their last eight. If they maintain this form it should be enough to maintain their top four status but it is a huge pressure to expect results in every single home match.
The away curse struck once again last week as they saw their 2-0 advantage over Barcelona in the Copa del Rey obliterated by a 6-1 thrashing at the Camp Nou. They were 90 minutes from a semi-final place with this season’s final being at the home of city neighbours Real Betis – less than two miles from their own ground.
They may now be looking at the league table and seeing Betis are just four points in their wake while a resurgent Valencia are within six points. Machin’s side have already played 41 matches this season and it would not be a surprise if fatigue caught up with them in the closing months. They still need to balance their league campaign with the return of the Europa League, and it may be the case that a sustained European return is not compatible with a top four finish.
One thing is for sure, Sevilla must address their miserable away form if they are to meet the ambitions and demands which the club possess.
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