Palop: “Sevilla must believe they can be champions” | sports


Sevilla players celebrate Ocampos' goal against Cádiz.
Sevilla players celebrate Ocampos’ goal against Cádiz.AFP7 via Europa Press (Europa Press)

Sevilla celebrated their victory against Cádiz (0-1) by announcing the renewal of Fernando, a footballer who represents the union spirit of this team, five points behind the league leader, Real Madrid, with one game less and right now the only one who depends on himself in addition to the whites to be champion of the League. At the age of 34, Fernando remains linked to the Andalusian club until 2024. The news made the fans happy that barely already hides the status of a great aspirant of his team to fight the League against Madrid.

Out of doors, the excitement stops. “I only see Sevilla prepared to face the Cup match against Zaragoza [este jueves a las 18.00 horas]. Everything that goes further does not interest me, “replied Julen Lopetegui, his coach, when asked if he sees his team ready to fight for the league crown.

The data reflects the reliability of Sevilla. The group led by Lopetegui has reached 41 points in the first round to complete the second best record in its history after the 42 points achieved in the 2016-17 academic year. That season, the team led by Jorge Sampaoli lowered their performance in the second round, unable to maintain such a high pace. The big question that Sevilla fans are now asking themselves is whether this group from Lopetegui will keep the bar so high from January onwards. That Sampaoli team was also second at the conclusion of the second round. He scored 30 points in the second leg of the tournament and finished in fourth place.

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“There is much left, without a doubt, but I see Sevilla very well. Beyond the second round being very long, the first thing that their players must do is believe that they can fight the League and be champions. Right now, the numbers are there. Sevilla are eight points behind the third-placed team and they are the only team that can keep up with Madrid, which is undoubtedly the great favorite ”, Andrés Palop, one of the best goalkeepers in the history of Sevilla, told this newspaper. Fundamental in the team that in 2007 won the Europa League, the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup. “And we were fighting for the League until the penultimate game. He didn’t hit us, but we were close ”, recalls the one who was captain of the Andalusian team, then third behind Madrid and Barça.

Comparisons skyrocket between the two squads. That Seville, for example, had footballers like Kanouté and Luis Fabiano in the lead. The one now does not have a striker who has reached 10 goals at the end of the first round (Mir and Ocampos are the top scorers with five goals each). “We were two very different teams. We failed in Tarragona and Mallorca and the League went away. This Seville is very reliable ”, clarifies Palop.

The current group Palop is referring to have kept a clean sheet for 10 games in the first round, something they only achieved in the 2008-09 season. And that reliability is shown in that for the first time in its history it has only lost two games in a first round (in its visits to Granada and Madrid). In addition, Sevilla, with 13 goals, is the team with the fewest goals against the five major leagues in Europe together with Manchester City.

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Multipurpose players

“More than being solid, which it is, I think that the greatest virtue that Sevilla has is that it is a team with all the letters. I remember Diego Martínez, the former coach of Granada, who said that it is a chameleonic team that adapts to all situations and survives ”, asserts Palop.

In Cádiz, for example, and without his two main attackers, En-Nesyri and Rafa Mir, the youth squad player Iván Romero played as a forward and delivered, with footballers like Acuña and Ocampos capable of playing efficiently in various positions. “Lopetegui moves the pieces, changes the system and all the players respond. The truth is that it would make me a tremendous illusion that Sevilla lifted the League. It is the title that remains for him to go down in history definitively now ”, concludes the one who was also a goalkeeper for Villarreal, Valencia and the Spanish team.

“I still need to win more titles with Sevilla. We are competing very well among the top four finishers, but I think we must win more titles, “said Fernando as soon as his renewal was known. A sign that ambition has been installed in the Sevilla dressing room.

Meanwhile, Monchi, Sevilla’s sporting director, is focused on hiring at least one attacking player to complete a squad that will now be diminished by the absence of Bono, En-Nesyri and Munir for the Africa Cup. The three Sevilla players are headlines in the Moroccan team, one of the favorite teams to conquer the African tournament, which starts this January 9 and ends on February 22. “We have only been able to have two attackers out of the six that we have in the squad in the last month and a half. The Africa Cup is coming and we have to solve this ”, claimed Julen Lopetegui at the end of the match against Cádiz.

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Without Munir and En-Nesyri, the Basque coach cannot count on strikers Lamela and Suso, who have been injured for a long time. Mir is out and only the young Iván Romero is available as a forward.

Monchi will try to satisfy the wishes of a coach with very good numbers at Sevilla. He is the coach with the highest percentage of victories in the history of the entity (58.5%), something that will not go unnoticed by the Sevilla executive. The first name he has set his eyes on is Manchester United striker Martial. The operation is complex. Monchi tries to transfer the French attacker, who does not count at United, for the second round.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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