Sevilla are on the verge of winning their first LaLiga title since 1946. They remain undefeated and have had a positive goal difference in all competitions this season, showing that they deserve to be top 2 or 3 at the end of the campaign.
Sevilla can win LaLiga for first time since 1946. They just need to believe
Sevilla can win LaLiga for the first time since 1946. They just need to believe in themselves and their team. Read more in detail here: la liga games.
Xavi Hernandez will not be popular in Sevilla, but that has nothing to do with whether he can motivate his team of bright kids and melancholy older professionals to a win against Los Rojiblancos at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Tuesday (3 p.m. ET, watch live on ESPN+).
When asked about Tuesday’s opponents, the Catalan — who, as a player, did so much to keep domestic trophies tantalizingly out of reach for great Sevilla sides featuring Freddie Kanoute, Luis Fabiano, Ivan Rakitic, Jose Antonio Reyes, Jesus Navas, Adriano, Sergio Ramos, Julio Baptista, and Dan Alves — stated a simple fact: “Sevilla were close to being champions last season and they are in shape to win
It’s encouraging to hear the proposal gain some airtime, especially after Real Madrid threatened to make the tournament a one-horse race for the last two weeks. Xavi, on the other hand, stomped on a feeling that has become a binding directive at both the Sanchez Pizjuan and the Ramon Cisneros Palacios Training Complex: “We do not talk about winning the championship!”
This season, work has sent me to Sevilla a few times to interview people like Jules Kounde, Thomas Delaney, Youssef En Nesyri, Bono, and last week, a phone chat with Monchi. These are talented, fascinating, and charismatic individuals with whom it would be a pleasure to discuss football. All of those interactions, as well as any chit-chat with the club’s media department or training ground employees, had one thing in common: an apparent absolute prohibition on honest replies regarding this being Sevilla’s best opportunity to win the Spanish championship since 1946.
Faces blanked over and eyebrows were raised in a “do not mention this subject” manner each time I suggested that Atletico Madrid and Barcelona were in serious transition mode (plus afflicted by nasty injury lists), then added that Real Madrid were stronger but lacked sufficient goals to make them a shoo-in for the title.
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The replies were rife with superstition. It was almost to the point where club staff were uncomfortably glancing over their shoulders to make sure no one had overheard and misinterpreted the talk, assuming it was them, not me, who’d brought up the taboo issue. Some of them laughed it off, while others shifted the topic. “Yes, if we do things perfectly from now until May, this may be our year,” none of them dared to declare.
Football is a realm of paranoia and superstition. Almost everyone worries, consciously or unconsciously, that you can become “beyond yourself,” that there’s some bigger football god out there who would cruelly punish hope and ambition if aspirations are spoken too passionately, too often, or too publicly.
You know how they say you shouldn’t touch the cup until you’ve won it? Teams walk out onto the pitch for a final, usually passing the silverware that they all crave, and it’s widely believed — in this lovable, eccentric society of myths, superstitions, and imagined taboos — that simply touching the trophy as you walk past it ensures not only that your team will lose the final, but also that the sinner will receive a red card, an injury, or an own goal.
The emotion in Sevilla is part of the same illogical reasoning family.
Saying things like “We have a fighting chance of winning the championship because our team can wage war on Madrid right up to the tape” is a recipe for disaster. Xavi, who was not affected by the curse, did everyone in Sevilla a huge favor by accurately describing them.
“Sevilla are capable of winning any tournament they are currently competing in, including LaLiga,” he stated. “They’ve grown into a massive club with a fantastic team; they’re a model for every club, including us, in terms of how they sign, coach, and scout.”
“Monchi [Sevilla’s world-famous, world-class director of football] has a mentality that should be an example for us all, Julen Lopetegui is one of Spain’s great managers… and if they defeat us, they’ll be just three points behind Madrid at the top of the league.”
Xavi did Sevilla a huge favor by sticking his chest out and ignoring football’s pointless but deeply established superstitions. This is not the time to hide behind refined demeanors and dismiss suggestions that greatness is on the horizon.
The thorns in Lopetegui’s side are Barcelona and Real Madrid. They have the upper hand right now, both mentally and in terms of football. That has to be pierced by Sevilla and Lopetegui.
He continues toying with the thought of stamping Sevilla’s power all over the country’s top two in his third season at this exceptional, ambitious, and muscular club. But he always falls short.
Sevilla’s fervent and late triumph over Atleti on Saturday was just the latest in a string of victories or draws against Spain’s reigning champions, with just one loss to the Colchoneros in the previous seven Liga matches. Sevilla has Atleti’s contact information.
Not so much in Madrid. The margins of defeat are small, yet they occur on a regular basis. Last month’s 2-1 setback in the capital, on a night when nearly every unbiased observer thought Bono, Diego Carlos, Kounde, and co. could — and should — have won, continued Sevilla’s trend of being close… but no cigar.
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When I said to Monchi last week that Sevilla is starting to behave like a club that not only intends to win LaLiga, but also openly declares it, he shifted the topic and did something unusual: he offered that Sevilla would strive to strengthen and add goals in the January transfer market.
Adding a better goal supply to Sevilla’s deep, talented, varied, and experienced squad (which has the best defensive record in LaLiga) could make them champion material, despite the club’s financial situation needing to be improved, and despite the club having exited the vastly lucrative Champions League having only earned about half of the €80 million they stood to pocket if they had made it to the quarterfinals, says one thing: They believe that adding a better goal supply to their deep, talented,
It’s past time for them to come out and say it. It’s past time they symbolically puffed up their chests and declared to the world that they want to be Spanish champions and that they believe they are made of the proper material. It’s past time for them to get positive reinforcement in the form of a public declaration of ambitious aim.
Madrid’s incredible feat of defeating Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla, Internazionale, and finally Atletico Madrid in less than a week firmly establishes them as a team to be reckoned with. It was an incredible achievement, but as soon as the enthusiasm died down, Cadiz took advantage of the opportunity to remind us that this is the same Madrid who lost to Sheriff Tiraspol and Espanyol this season, and drew 0-0 with both Osasuna and Villarreal.
This isn’t a one-horse contest for the crown. Madrid is a formidable opponent, but they are not indestructible. Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, the other finalists, seem to be embroiled in more challenges than chances right now.
With injured players returning and a strong January market, Sevilla have every reason to feel that they can create history by becoming Spain’s champions for the first time in 76 years. They must first believe, which begins with declaring to the world, “Yes, we can!”
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