M35: Athletic vs. Sevilla [2019-20]

Great performance by Banega he bossed the game from start to finish.
Don’t worry Al Shabab have agreed to him staying until August.

“Sevilla announced this Thursday that Argentine midfielder Éver Banega, whose contract with the Sevilla organization expired last Tuesday and who has already signed with the Saudi Al Shabab, will continue in Sevilla discipline until August, when their official commitments for the 2019/20 season end”

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Perfect!

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I had us down for a draw for this one, so to get the win was great stuff. Realistically, two draws from our remaining games should be enough for CL football. I think we win at least one of our remaining 3.

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Exactly Mark, Banega is a legend. A pleasure to have had him in our squad for what is it about 5 years. A player with maybe not the best lable, lifestyle and everything around it considering pure football. But so glad, we picked him up after it didn´t work too great for him at the other clubs. It will be a big loss, A player that you could try to reach in the most difficult situations and somehow he could turn and twist his way and maintain possesion like only few players can like Xavi, that plus his creativity, long passing and football inteligence has been a incredible to have in our team. As Chris also said, finding his replacement will be a heck of a job. Simply because there is only one Ever. Not sure where this is going, i´m just glad he´s been in our team for so long and has all the right of the world to get his well earned pension in Saudi Arabia. Bless you Banega :raised_hands:

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His game was a bit of a mixed bag. The funk from the last match followed him a bit with some of his wayward passing. He did drop 2 Athletic players though… :laughing: But he stepped up when the team needed something, and what a time to do it. Replacing him will be a tough job for whoever comes in, but we have Monchi pulling the strings on this one so i’m sure we’ll be fine. :grin:

I was also impressed by Jordán’s game. He hardly put a foot wrong, and only got hooked cause Lope wanted to change the setup and have Suso play thru the middle. He seemed to have found his role and made a lot of runs into the box. Did a nice backheel layoff for Ocampos in the 1st half, but that shot went into row Z. Also in the 2nd half, he got free on the right channel and delivered a perfect cross to Lucas, who forced a good save out of Simón. I was starting to doubt whether Joan truly fit in this 4-3-3, but that’s given me some hope. He still does a good job defensively so he’ll always be a plus if we play a double-pivot.

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I’m with you, I wanted Banega off the field in the first half, pathetic, but when he stepped up for the free-kick I said, “he’ll score here, this is exactly his distance”, and then he gave the assist to Munir. But remember that Munir got the free-kick for Banega and scored the second goal and changed the game within minutes of coming on, so who was the hero?

Speaking of distance, Banega’s free kicks 50-60 yards from the box don’t arrive in the penalty box, they fall short, consistently, not working.

Regarding Jordan, he is indeed markedly more influencial and improved in recent games. The thing he did in the previous game where Suso should have scored was top, absolutely beyond his paygrade, total class.

Since the restart of the season (the derby J28) our results have been …
WDDDDWWW, 16 from 24 points. average 2 points per game, and equal to 76 per season, good form.

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Those were exactly my words when we were awarded a free kick in that spot… simply too good for Banega to miss.

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That’s not an easy place to get the ball up and down like that either. Add in that the wall actually jumped too, it was a remarkable effort.

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A superb win at a bogey ground for us. Great spirit to come back from a goal behind. One word for Banega. Legend. He bossed that midfield and what a great free kick and assist!
Champions League football all but assured next season and a point in the next 3 should do it with Real hopefully doing us another favour and beating Villareal. Would be great to finish 3rd and would cap off a solid league season.

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Just had a thought pop into my head, just made me laugh a little. I’m easy going with how Lopetegui is doing, but I know a few of the more regulars on here cannot stand him and want him replaced.

If we finish third we basically finish best of the rest, and also with a potential Europa League on the cards, I’m not really too sure we have any footing to give the guy the boot even if the football is rather monotonous and unglamorous 90% of the time. :sweat_smile:

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With Monchi saying he’d still back Lope whether we finish in CL or EL, gives me the impression he believes this project can go further.

Just to give him some credence, we’re doing this without a reliable striker. Also, the way he’s made this team hard to beat shows me signs we’re at least dealing with a different class of manager. We’ve had coaches the last 2 seasons that didn’t know how to fix things when shit hit the fan.

And by different class, i’m saying he’s above average. I need to see more to determine whether he can win La Liga. But i think he’s a coach that can bring stability and keep us in the top 4 for seasons to come, and then maybe we can upgrade.

If he can give us steady CL qualification, and of course, a little bit more ambition than that and close the gap with the Big 2, then i’m with Julen. I’m sure this side will evolve next season and he’ll finally implement his style.

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If Monchi is thick with Lope, that´s how it will be. And we will stay with him for some time. I´m just saying that our la liga ranking is very result based, with plenty games that could have gone to shit but didn´t and we got points if not the full 3. Where in my opinion, this was more about luck and individual talent.

If next season, everything goes our way in the slightest bits again and we are scraping victories relying on defense, I can sit down, quiet and applaud the stability he created. Right now, i´m very scepticle still. Doesn´t mean i´m not ecstatic with the standings tho.

What i´m saying is that, I can very easily see us with 12 points less, being around Valencia´s place and makes me think what we would be saying then. Maybe i´m the minority tho.

tldr: I don´t think Lopetegui is a trainer better then his material. But Monchi is pretty good at delivering material.

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I don’t think you are. People hated him before he took the job, so it won’t be so easy to sway them.

It could have been really bad. We’ve had such a good run of luck with refs this season that i sometimes think, jokingly ofc, we’ve might’ve bribed these refs too. :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

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Very true lol, it´s not even very surprising anymore if we get away with some crimes or get surprise party penalties, that you´ll almost just feel like its normal. Very bad mentality to have in my opinion, these shouldn´t be the things to focus on right? Although honestly i´ve been enjoying it very much haha. Feels good being teacher´s favourite behind Real and Barça :innocent:

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I agree with that! I feel the fact we on 63 points and we are currently joint 3rd and on a 12 unbeaten run that shows Lopetegui has improved the club.

I feel we have improved as an overall unit and we are more solid in defence too. When things get tough we don’t buckle as much as we have in past seasons under likes of machin, montella or berizzo. There is better team spirit and resilience in this squad. They fight for each other and that is one thing that Sevilla fans love. Plus I do like Lopetegui passion for the game. He’s intense and determined to win like sampaoli was.

I feel he’s fortunate to be working with a strong squad with a lot of depth that Monchi has provided. However, we have not got a top 20 goal striker like a Ben yedder, Kanoute, Fabiano so in that sense he’s done well to still get the results he has.

He had the Spanish squad playing great stuff and looked in great form before he left for Real Madrid. Of course at real it went awfully wrong but they never give him time and they didn’t really want him at start. Their board didn’t want him.

Whereas Monchi and Castro wanted Lopetegui and feel there is a great chance of a successful project. A lot of Sevilla fans may have been skeptical but if we reach our aims then he will win a lot more over. I feel the one thing he needs to work on is that bravery to kill teams off and let the handbrake off to allow players to express themselves more.

Overall though he’s done well though with the resources he’s been given. We have to remember we still don’t have the spending power or big appeal that a real Madrid or Barca have. Although there is hope that we might be trying to step up to next level and try to sign more top players that fit us to try move closer to them. It takes time though.

I think we need stability and keeping Lopetegui and hopefully most of these top players we can build on it. We need to sign about 3 great players in offseason if we can to really be ready to hit ground running next season. Things are looking good though. If we could finish 3rd and go far in Europa we’d gain a lot of money too. That will be great.

It’s all about building on our success. For example if we finish top 4 then it’s only the 2nd time in like 10 years we’d finish in top 4. If we got 3rd, that would be our best finish since 2008/2009 season. If we can get top 4 this season and then achieve it again next season then Lopetegui will have done something what hardly any managers have done. Even in our best years we still not managed 2 back to back successful finishes in top 3-4. That has to be aim and then aim for top 2 after. I think Lopetegui for now has earned that right to try do what simeone did at atletico. Of course if results turn or the football is dour/turgid then he could come under pressure but for now he’s doing well.

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I do see where you coming from though. There have been like a handful of games that have been on a knife edge and could have went the other way. If we had lost them then of course we’d look at things differently and Lopetegui may be under more pressure of losing his job.

That’s why the thing the team and Lopetegui need to work on is killing games off when we get ahead. As we can’t always win by the odd goal and scrap through all the time.

However, I’m confident we will improve on that in time. Especially if we keep our best players and recruit well again in summer. It is heartening to know though in matches that get scrappy or complicated that we can emerge victorious under Lopetegui. Under many previous managers we would have lost a lot of these tight games.

Lopetegui is very good at winning ugly and he makes good changes in 2nd half that has turned the tide well for us in matches. Now we just need to work on trying to make more matches more comfortable and turn on the style more.

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I think if Lope gets us top 4 (which he should), then we have to stick with him. Not many managers have achieved that at the club in recent years. This is all without a reliable striker. No the football isn’t that attractive on the eye but he’s made us hard to beat and we are solid defensively.
Just imagine what we would be like with a striker in the Ben Yedder, Gameiro, Kanoute, Fabiano category. No reason why we can’t be consistently 3rd/4th. Going to take a lot though to catch up with Barca and Real and that to a large extent is out of our hands but we should be ambitious and aim for that. Atletico have managed it and so have Valencia in the past.

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I’m still not sure about Lopetegui. He hasn’t convinced me, on the contrary, many of his decisions made me doubt his managerial skills and often I think that he’s not the one that could get us to the next level.

Yes, finishing 4th and going to CL for the next season is great, and we might have a good run in the EL with this new mini-tournament format. However, we’ve had a very decent squad this season, and I think we could’ve played much better (even before the pandemic) and avoided many draws and losses.

In overall, it’s not bad as it would be ludicrous to call a top 4 campaign bad - while still competing in EL, but somehow I feel a more decent coach would’ve played much better and secured the CL spots way before, not leaving it to the latest matches, something that even coaches like Antonio Alvarez have doing.

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The team is improving day by day, a couple of key transfers and it’s gonna be ready for CL. However, JLo has a style that is very predictable. Always subs for an extra DM if leading. He don’t have a decent B plan when loosing.
One positive side is that we seemingly stopped giving away stupid goals at the very end of each match. We could lock the score more easily.
Lastly we halted the reign of Messi on Sevilla nets at last. That alone is something😄

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You’re not. I have probably been one of his harsher critics here. Yes he has brought the club to a long-awaited top 4 finish but given the state of our rivals this season this should have been wrapped up some time ago.

Credit when it’s due, few managers would have handled the situation better when your team has a main striker who tends to pass any crosses that come his way to opposition goalkeeper, 3 20 million dollar signings who have shown nearly nothing to warrant that price tag, losing 2 strikers in the mid-season window and the team captain one month after the window closes; having 3 fullbacks and 3 center backs to juggle around for a full season and a goalkeeper who gives up a soft goal for every decent stop he makes.

To make it to the Europe on that alone is pretty impressive and one heck of a challenge, the team has also started resembling some tactical sense at times in the second half of the season, which is plus given most top half teams have managers who have been at the helm for at least a season, so progress has been made. Not to mention some robust away performances and doing the double over Betis, that would help any Sevilla manager score points with the fans.

Yet, Lope still has some drawbacks, the team doesn’t really play well against the bottom clubs, drawing at home and then losing to Celta Vigo, draws to Alaves and Espanyol at home and near losses to Valladolid at home where everyone was questioning his logic, I also think that in both matches against Madrid the team was flat and created nothing of note. Some have noted that some new arrivals have done nothing, I get the feeling that Monchi only paid for those players according to Lope’s requirements, so he should have players he reckons could play his desired style, but either they don’t fit or he hasn’t gotten through to them.

The club’s bid for Europe was also helped by Betis and Valencia having become pedestrian after strong seasons last year, Atletico Madrid were also pretty poor and drab for the first half before finishing off Liverpool and Simeone rallying his troops for a strong second half of the season, Getafe were also in front before a 3-0 victory by Sevilla stopped them dead in their tracks - they have only won twice in ten games since. Real Sociedad were another team very much in the hunt but the football ban came and they have done very poorly after the restart, losing 5 out of 8, in an ordinary season this would not have happened. There were also games where the result could have gone either way but sometimes they got lucky - look at the number of penalties awarded to them or the players fought through for those points - these come up massively at the end of the season and it’s showing with only 2 games left.

All in all, Lope did contribute to Sevilla making it to Europe again but he has not won me over entirely. Some draws to bottom teams were just pathetic and his in-game management could also be improved - when everything isn’t working he just throws in a 3-5-2 overload and hopes something will stick, substitutions could also be better are some are ineffectual and others just head-scratching, remember Lopes on 89’? He has earned the right to lead the club going into next season but the jury is still out on whether he is here for good, he is also the first manager to see the whole season through in the last 3 seasons so some stability would be welcome. I look forward to how he can lead the team in the Europa knockouts where they only play one game and the likes of Wolves and a rejuvenated Manchester United are likely opponents.

tl;dr version: credit where it’s due but has not entirely won me over.
Season rating (as of today): B

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