All the excitement round the crowd has just fded way in aa matter of six months. After half year in charge, coach Sampaoli has been sacked from Sevilla FC. He joined on October 6th in order to replace Julen Lopetgeui, who was stuck in a very poor streak. However yesterday, March 21st, the Argentinian coach was asked to leave once again on a bitter end.
The expectations were huge on Sampoli’s arrival. A crowd that was optimistic and confident that Sevilla would climb back up on the table. However, the reality was clearly different. Even though the team seemed to improve during his first games in charge, the outcomes did not come along with.
He made his debut against Athletic Club, already with Marcão on the field. He hd not played a single game for several months and he was given the opportunity to return as soon as the Argentinian coach signed. Sampoli lined up the Brazilian on defense along with the young Tanguy Nianzou. He bet on a four-man defense, which really surprised all of us. The game ended up on a 1-1 draw, even though Sevilla had chances to win it. Vesga saved a point through an outstanding individual action by the end of the contest.
After his debut, Sevilla FC were able to pick up two wins in October against RCD Mallorca and Copenhagen, two draws versus Valencia and Borussia Dortmund, and two defeats against Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano. I would like to point out the win versus Mallorca, as it is clear that one of the biggest struggles from Sevilla this season is to play on the road.
Up to this point, Sevilla have only won two games on the road so far this season, and they have been unable to do so since October 15th. We must also point out that that game against Mallorca was won thanks to an outstanding shot from outside the box by Nemanja Gudelj. Otherwise, I do not know what the final score would have been like.
After an entire month without meeting with the win, Sevilla travelled to the Etihad Stadium in the Champions League group stage. Sampaoli surprised all of us with a very uncommon line-up, as Papu Gómez played as a striker along with Isco, and then Acuña and Rafa Mir as wingers.
In that same scenario, the injuries cruse came up once again for Sevilla. Marcão got injured on that same day and he has been unable to return since then. With the injury of the Brazilian, who was the mots important player in a very rookie defense, Sevilla really struggled to earn clean sheets.
An experienced dancer makes anyone to dance better, but we might struggle without that person by our side. That is the case of Tanguy Nianzou, who did not find the way to lead the defense since the Brazilian got injured.
January came up and so the winter strengths with Pape Gueye, Bryan Gil, Lucas Ocampos and Loïc Badé, which really improved the squad. However, from my point of view, not all of them were the right calls from manager Monchi. Sending two starting central defenders on loan such as José Ángel and Kike Salas was not the best decision for me. They are two defenders that could have added a lot to the team, specially knowing that Sampaoli likes to play on a three-man defensive line usually.
Sevilla managed to stay afloat half way into the season thanks to three consecutive wins at home. Youssef-En Nesyri arose again with a hat-trick at the Spanish Cup against Linares. What at first seemed to be just an isolated episode, became a habit, as the Moroccan striker is the top scorer of the team with 12 goals, even though he only managed to scored two in the entire 2022.
However, the first disappointment of 2023 came on January 25th with the knockout from the Spanish Cup versus CA Osasuna (2-1). After that, Sevilla stayed strong at home with another three wins in a row along with three clean sheets in all those games.
Nevertheless, it all got messed up once again with a new injury, this time on Loïc Badé. However, no matter what, Sampaoli kept playing with three defenders despite he only had one healthy. Let me dig deeper on this last aspect I have mentioned. Fernando, Gudelj, Telles… Non of them are pure central defenders. They are just players that have been able to adapt themselves to that position due to the lack of available players, but that is it. The only healthy player to be on the field was Tanguy Nianzou and Sampaoli played with a five-man defensive line anyways.
It was clear that the team was not going to make any progress with such many changes of spots and experiments from the Argentinian coach, which resulted in some negative outcomes that dragged Sevilla all the way to the relegation battle, exactly the reason why they signed Sampaoli at first.
The Gol-Average was the only aspect that kept them out of relegation for several weeks. Sevilla also kept advancing rounds in the UEFA Europa League, but only thanks to their performing at home in the first leg, as they had very poor games on the road and only a goal prevented them from the knockout against Fenerbahçe and PSV.
The last two games on the road would be decisive for the Argentinian’s future on the bench. Atlético de Madrid humiliated Sevilla (6-1), a very painful score for the fans. Then, Sampaoli would coach his last game against Getafe, where Sevilla lost 2-0 and showed a terrible lack of ideas and motivation, which are the basis that the crowd demands from this team.
Sometimes farewells are tough but needed. That is the way Sampaoli’s time at Sevilla has come to an end, this is the end of a story with a bitter end. Now it is Mendilibar the one who must change the course of this team.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: @SevillaFC.