It’s hard to believe that less than ten years ago Sevilla FC were sat in Spain’s second division. The reason why it’s so hard to believe is that Sevilla are now at the top of their game and are hopeful of mounting a consistent title challenge for this season. And why not? Sevilla are a team that have worked their way to a title challenge through hard work, good signings and a good team spirit. They are one of the few Spanish clubs capable of beating the big boys of Barcelona and Real Madrid and have been pretty consistent in the league so far, slipping up just twice, once of those being in a particularly tough trip to the Mestalla to face Valencia. Many fans of other Spanish clubs, aside from Real Betis and Malaga and perhaps also Barca and Madrid, consider Sevilla to be their second team, but why?
The key reason is that Sevilla are the club currently attempting to break the Big Two’s domination in Spain and are the team most likely to steal a league title away from Barca and Madrid. Valencia are likely to sell their best players which will leave them falling further behind whilst Villarreal and Atletico Madrid are both struggling which leaves Sevilla as the most viable challenger to the big boys’ throne. And whilst many in Spain may admire the way Barca and Madrid play, the majority would love to see a different team win the title for once. It’s reminiscent of the Scottish Premier League where neutrals wish to see the Old Firm’s domination broken. It’s the reason why Valencia were so loved when they were winning titles back in the early 2000’s; they’re underdogs and ones that just might do it.
Sevilla’s popularity also comes from the way they play. The Andalucian side plays attractive, attacking football, score a lot of goals and don’t worry about their dodgier defence because they know they can outscore opponents. The key to their attacking prowess is their strong attack with Brazilian international Luis Fabiano in perfect tandem with former Tottenham and West Ham man Freddie Kanoute. Kanoute himself has found a new lease of life in Spain, excelling and being the scorer and provider of many goals, almost winning the top goalscorer award on one occasion. Sevilla’s attack is aided by strong support going forward – Jesus Navas and Diego Capel are speedy wingers who love getting crosses in whilst Abdoulay Konko and Adriano are full backs who love to get forward and cause havoc. Add to them Alvaro Negredo and Diego Perotti who can come into the squad at any time plus Renato, a central midfielder with an eye for a scorching goal and you see why Sevilla’s attacking threat is so potent.
Naturally though, the tendency of their full backs to get forward constantly often leaves Sevilla short at the back and their defensive qualities don’t quite match their offensive power. Didier Zokora was brought in from Tottenham to prove the holding player who could help out in this role but he is yet to make an appearance since the opening day when Sevilla lost at Valencia, with Aldo Duscher preferred in the role. Meanwhile Sevilla have a centre back who could’ve made a La Liga team of the year last year in Seb Squillaci, the Frenchman who has been a rock for them for a while now, preventing them from conceding too many.
As a Malaga fan I absolutely detest Sevilla but I do sort of admire the way they’ve turned themselves into a title challenger and a side capable of challenging for any honours despite being promoted to the top flight later than us at the turn of the millennium. The fact that players such as Julio Baptista, Sergio Ramos and Seydou Keita – all players who could fit into any team in the world – have played for Sevilla in recent years just shows what high regard they’ve achieved in the last five or six years and their astounding progress makes neutrals support them all the more.