Sevilla keep the pressure on Barcelona

Pablo Machin

Sevilla returned to second place in the La Liga table, with a 2-1 home win over Espanyol last weekend, sending a clear message to leaders Barcelona in the process.

Pablo Machin’s side replaced Espanyol as the closest side to Barcelona, with Joan Francesc Ferrer’s team slipping down to sixth following the loss.

Sevilla completed a double victory for Andalusia over Catalonia in Gameweek 12, with city rivals Real Betis inflicting Barcelona’s first home La Liga defeat of the season with a 4-3 victory at Camp Nou.

They have also taken advantage of Real Madrid’s inconsistency at the start of the season, to establish themselves as the main challenger to Barcelona, at this stage of the campaign.

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La Liga Best XI – Week 7

detomasFollowing on from some exciting performances and high scoring games in recent weeks, La Liga went through a weekend of something like the status quo without too many majorly surprising results this past weekend. Sevilla did well to record a 3-1 win at Eibar, while El Derbi Madrileño finished goalless at the Santiago Bernabeu. Valencia did manage to reward their fans for the patience shown in the early stages of this campaign by notching up their first win of the campaign, a 1-0 victory at Real Sociedad, and Athletic Bilbao did well to secure a point following their 1-1 draw against Barcelona at the Nou Camp. Utilising a 4-3-3 this week, let’s take a look at the best La Liga best XI from round 7!

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Will Messi fail again to lead Argentina to a World Cup victory?

argentina2018

Having covered South American side Brazil recently on this World Cup look ahead, it’s now time to check in with their continental neighbours Argentina. The home nation of some of the finest footballers of the past few decades, La Albiceleste haven’t managed to lift the golden trophy since their infamous 1986 triumph in Mexico. That tournament of course was the home of the “Hand of God” incident when Diego Maradona handled the ball into England’s net to send the Three Lions home and lead the Argentinians on to their second title in three tournaments.

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Cup kings Sevilla could spring Champions League upset

Banega-Sevilla

A team with nothing, or little to lose, is always a dangerous proposition, particularly if they are a side used to upsetting the odds.

Sevilla have essentially kissed goodbye to their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League via La Liga, as they are currently 14 points off Valencia in fourth place.

Despite not being in a position to do too much damage domestically, they are still well placed to have a key role in the season run in .

Vincenzo Montella’s side pulled off the shock of the round when they defeated Manchester United at Old Trafford, to seal a place in the Champions League quarter finals.

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Could Banega bye-bye lead to Emery exiting Sevilla?

emery-efl

Inter have reportedly swooped on Sevilla to take Ever Banega for next season, the midfielder’s contract expiring and the Serie A giants picking up one of Europe’s most cultured midfielders for absolutely nothing. It’s a big loss but Sevilla suffer big losses every summer, and come back as strong as ever. 2016 might be different, though, as with Vicente del Bosque apparently set on retiring as Spain Coach, Unai Emery is in the frame to succeed him.

There are other possibilities than the Sevilla trainer to step in for Del Bosque. Paco Jemez, of Rayo Vallecano, has been touted and he has said he’d be interested, but it would mark quite the change in approach to go from the more conservative and vastly experienced Del Bosque to the younger, more radical Jemez.

Rafa Benitez would likely get a mention but there’d surely be little popular support after his Madrid tenure ended so quickly and in such acrimony, and Pep Guardiola has said he’s going to England, so that rules him out, not that he was ever a realistic choice at this stage of his career. Emery then has the right credentials – a big name with a track record of success, a style of play compatible with the squad he would inherit and, maybe most importantly, he’s not necessarily handcuffed to the bench at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

Emery flirted with West Ham and Milan in summer 2015 before committing to Sevilla. If he was honestly tempted by the Hammers and the Rossoneri, a mid-table Premier League team and a fallen Serie A giant, it seems reasonable to assume he would be interested in the vacancy with La Roja. It’s not that simple, of course – Emery may prefer the day-to-day of working with a group of players, not the long periods of inactivity experienced by a national team boss, but it’s an opening that might arise at the right time.

Banega’s exit sees Emery lose a player with whom he has worked closely before, at Valencia, and with whom he has developed a bond. Banega thanked Emery and Sevilla sporting director Monchi for taking him to Nervion after May’s Europa League final, after the Argentine endured a torrid time at Mestalla. Banega specifically cited Emery as the reason he moved to Sevilla, but now he is leaving him behind. It may be a wake-up call to Emery – that however much he likes life at his current club, when there’s an opportunity it’s best to take it.

There are though a lot of moving parts. Del Bosque may yet be talked into staying on, or the Spanish Football Federation may have a new President – particularly if the long-serving Angel Maria Villar can’t explain his questionable loan to Recreativo Huelva. One of the many other sound candidates may be favoured – Ernesto Valverde or Quique Sanchez Flores, perhaps. But Emery might never get this chance again. And Sevilla will not only have to replace Banega, but Emery too. Monchi will have his work cut out for him.