On the face of it, the first half of the 2020-21 couldn’t have gone much better for Sevilla.
Julen Lopetegui’s side are fourth in La Liga after 21 games, a point behind Barcelona and Real Madrid in second and third and six ahead of Villarreal in fifth.
Last week, they scrapped their way past Almeria to set up a Copa del Rey semi-final against a beatable Barcelona side, and in February and March they will face Borussia Dortmund over two legs for a place in the Champions League last eight.
With a solid defence, some excellent wing play, and the goals of now-prolific front-man Youssef En-Nesyri, they have built on the Europa League title they won in August – another one – and are looking to move to the next level, to become a force that can disrupt the stranglehold Madrid’s big two and Barcelona have on Spanish football.
Given their budget, it is a thoroughly impressive position to be in and further decorates the already generously feathered cap of sporting director Monchi.
For all that success, though, it was difficult to shake the feeling that something was missing at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan in the first half of this season. To be more precise, it was hard to shake the feeling that someone was missing.
More than just an expert wind-up merchant, Ever Banega was the source of Sevilla’s attacking fluidity; their most inventive midfielder last term and for some time before that. Following his move to Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab in the summer, there was a void. Continue reading