Sevilla keeps motoring. Europa League powerhouses for so long, it was within touching distance of snatching the La Liga trophy last season and, in no mood to feel sorry for itself, is back for more under coach Julen Lopetegui.
Falling short is disappointing, but coming close sends out a strong message. The team has not won the domestic title in 75 years, and ending that wait is the next step. Given the current state of play, this could be its best chance to do the unthinkable.
Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid have dominated for so long. If their grip is to loosen, though, this could be the year. Barcelona’s project is unclear, with financial problems hanging over them and La Liga slashing €300 million ($348 million) from its spending budget. Real Madrid has work to do after a shock home defeat to Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol in the Champions League. Atlético has Griezmann back, though losing to lowly Alavés means it is far from imperious.
It’s a tall order for Sevilla, but it has reason to believe. The club is carefully run from the top downwards, with director Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo—or Monchi—at the helm and former Spanish national team boss Lopetegui guiding the players on the field.
Spain’s calculated team
Sevilla usually buys its most important players for low sums of money. Highly rated defender Julen Koundé, for example, has attracted interest from all over Europe and will almost certainly boost his employer financially if and when he leaves. Aged 22, he has the world at his feet.
The side is holding firm over Koundé and will only sell when his value soars. If he does leave, there will be replacements. Rarely does Sevilla’s team stay the same. It often changes—sometimes drastically—each season and rarely flounders as a result. That is a sign of good recruitment.
Big club mentality
In many ways, astute director Monchi defines Sevilla. His brains are behind the shrewd transfer dealings, his claim to fame during a 20-year tenure, briefly when he swapped Sevilla for Italian side Roma in 2019.
To say Monchi and Sevilla are only canny when it comes to player dealings would be off the mark, however. The side has an ambitious, if not slightly ambiguous, innovation center which transcends soccer. Its aims include improving the club’s knowledge base through university partnerships and focus on technology and data to gain a competitive edge. In this sense, you could say Sevilla is both a club for today and the future.
Making the next step
Sevilla’s recruitment is generally excellent, and the club is perhaps ahead of its time. While those things are unlikely to change any time soon, this season presents a unique opportunity with the big sides showing signs of weakness.
Moroccan striker Youssef En-Nesyri, reportedly of interest to Arsenal, is one of the most effective strikers in La Liga when high on confidence Spanish striker Rafa Mir—a bright spark for Huesca before he joined—adds even more firepower in attack. Experienced midfielder Ivan Rakitic and young Koundé are just as important in the deeper positions.
Sevilla has seemingly shaken off the relative disappointment of falling short in the last campaign. If there is no runaway leader as the race gathers pace, it will be in the mix and better for the experience.