Jorge Sampaoli’s new Sevilla tonight at the Santiago Bernabeu conducts its first litmus test against Real Madrid in a row, leading in the League and counting all its games of the season with wins except for two draws against Osasuna and Shakhtar.
The Sevilla team fired Julen Lopetegui on October 5, and the team is in a relegation position and practically kicked out of the Champions League. With Sampaoli at the helm, the men from Nervión have seen clear progress. Sevilla played four games with the Argentine, three draws and one win (in Son Moix against Mallorca). Now they are already twelfth in the table and although they need a miracle in the Champions League to make it to the round of 16, the atmosphere in the dressing room and in Sevilla is different.
If we leave scared, imagine how we will get out of there. You have to play bravely.”
There is a feeling that the backlash is over and that Sevilla is taking steps towards its true potential, the potential of a team that must obviously strive to reach the positions of champions.
With Sevilla, we are already starting to see a very tactically disciplined team, which is one of the characteristics of the team led by Sampaoli. The biggest concern for the Argentine coach now is to give consistency in defense to his team: “There are players with certain inconveniences, like Fernando or the chronic problem that Marcos Acuña has, which is why he plays the best he can. Complications in the defensive block are real and increase with matches. We need to have structures beyond our own names to neutralize a team that has great strength. In this little time we have, we will work to close the channels that work so well,” said the technician, who also confirmed that Marcão is available again and will travel.
Sampaoli did not want to give much indication about the possible system that would be used at the Bernabeu: “We will evaluate the characteristics of our wingers and midfielders. See what it gives you to play with one or the other,” he said.
Today, it seems that in Sampaoli’s Sevilla, one of the losers is Isco, needed by Lopetegui and a player who easily gets depressed when he knows he is underestimated.
Although Sampaoli’s football philosophy is always very different from Simeone’s (much more daring), he agrees with the Atlético coach that he is a great motivator and a staunch defender of his players. For Sampaoli, the game can only be planned out of arrogance: “If we had gone to the Bernabeu scared, imagine how we would have come out of there.” We will try to play a game of great daring; then development puts you in your place. Our idea of the game is not to be partners, but protagonists. And in the game you can only act from one place and that’s from an illusion.”
Yesterday, Sampaoli commented on what he told his players: “I told them that Madrid are unpredictable because they occupy space very well and their players do not have fixed positions. What I asked myself was to control the game from the game. In the game of arrival and departure, we have very few chances”.
At Real, Courtois, who got over sciatica, is a big news on the list. Ancelotti confirmed him as a starter in a team he said would see very few changes from the one that won at Martínez Valero on Wednesday against Elche.