Sevilla FC have suffered one of their worst starts and courses of the season in their history, but in this last month, and after the arrival of José Luis Mendilibar to the bench, the team seems to have changed the course.
Sevilla started off the current season full of doubts after the summer transfer market. The club lost some key pieces, specially on defense, as Diego Carlos and Koundé headed to Aston Villa and FC Barcelona, respectively.
Another key exit was Lucas Ocampos‘, whose experience at Ajax did not go as expected and, as a result, he returned in the winter transfer market. The Argentinian winger is getting back to his best level and he has become a key player for Mendilibar’s system.
Sevilla have had up to three coaches this season. Julen Lopetegui was the first one. He began his stay in the 2019/2020 campaign and managed to lift their 6th Europa League trophy, which gave him enough credit to stay for two seasons and a half more. However, as a result of the poor outcomes from LaLiga, with the team on verge of relegation with just one win in the first seven games and knocked out from the Champions League group stage; Lopetegui was fired with just two months into the new season.
Then it was the turn of Jorge Sampaoli, who joined in October in his second time as Sevilla’s head coach. He ended third in the Champions League group stage, which gave him access to the Europa League. Furthermore, he qualified Sevilla for the quarter finals after beating PSV and Fenerbahçe, even though they really struggled to make it through and showed a very poor and unreliable playing style.
On the other hand, Osasuna knocked them out from the Spanish Cup in January. In the end, the last game for Sampaoli in charge took place against Getafe, where Sevilla fell 2-0 against a direct rival for the stay. This defeat kept Sevilla in the race to avoid relegation with just 12 fixtures left and in a very negative streak. As a result, the board of directors decided to sack him.
After thinking about different candidates to replace the Argentinian coach, president Pepe Castro and manager Monchi chose Mendilibar and, for now, that has been their best call so far this season. Sevilla are going through their best momentum in both competitions that they are still alive in.
Mendilibar has earned 7 out of the 9 possible points in LaLiga as Sevilla’s head coach and he has beaten direct rivals Cádiz and Valencia on the road, which is something that this team really struggled with. Another key aspect to point out is the fact that they have kept clean sheets in both of those two away games, which proves the defensive improvement that the squad were really looking forward to.
Lat but not least, and probably the most exciting fact for the fans, the Old Trafford’s feat. ‘Mendi’ and their players not only managed to stay alive in the round against Manchester United and with the first game on the road, but also completed a 2-0 down comeback in the last 10 minutes to equalize the score when everyone though they were out. Then, in the second round, Sevilla beat United with an incredible atmosphere at their home, and now they have once again established their candidacy to lift their seven title.
Now Sevilla’s position is way more favorable. In Europe, they are the favorites to lift the Europa League trophy. This must be added to the optimism in the city of Sevilla and their bond with the Europa League tournament.
We must also remind you that with their win versus Valencia at Mestalla Mendilibar’s Sevilla are now 12th on the table and eight points away from relegation, which is the same distance to the 7th spot currently occupied by Athletic Club that gives access to the UEFA Conference League tournament next season in case Real Madrid wins the Spanish Cup.
It is clear that José Luis Mendilibar has changed Sevilla’s face and he has found the way to manage both the locker room and the team’s delicate situation. Sevilla breath, get away from relegation optimism increases through the fans and the goals now seem to be completely different compared to a month ago.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: @SevillaFC.