Sunday evening was a momentous one for Sevilla at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, but not for the reasons that they would have wanted. It saw their run of 17 consecutive wins at home come to an end, as Real Sociedad bravely claimed a 1-2 victory.
It is a streak that should be celebrated, with wins over Real Madrid and Juventus and a thriller against Villarreal. During the run they scored a massive 41 goals and conceded only six. It is the kind of form that puts you up there in the League table, but Sevilla are actually only seventh. It really is a pity that their away form is not at least respectable, because they could be achieving so much more right now.
In a League that is often criticised for its lack of competitiveness, Sevilla’s unusual and contrasting form on the road and at home proves the quality on show. To beat almost every team in La Liga at home but fail to defeat any one of them away is bewildering to say the least. Watch the Andalusians at home and they could be title challengers. Watch them away and it is as if they are relegation candidates.
There have been various explanations offered up, such as that the Sanchez Pizjuan has such a fear factor for visitors, and that it stimulates the Sevilla players to such an extent that when they play elsewhere they simply fail to perform to the same levels. On the other hand, Unai Emery has been blamed for fielding more defensive sides away from their fortress, which could perhaps account for the lack of goals.
They are currently nine points behind fourth-place Villarreal and the final Champions League spot. Even if they had won three or four of their away games, which is still a return that fans would be disappointed with for a team of Sevilla’s standing, they would be lying in fourth and closing in on another season of Champions League football.
“This is when you appreciate how hard it is to maintain a winning streak [at home]. The success rate in each game has to be very high,” the Coach said after the loss on Sunday. “We have to keep going our way.
“[Sunday] was a great opportunity, but I can’t think beyond the next game and winning it,” he continued. “Villarreal are still favourites for fourth, but fifth is important and so is sixth because we don’t know if the seventh will be enough. I don’t know what awaits us in the League. For now, we’ll give the Europa League our attention.”
Attention on the Europa League indeed. But they are yet to win away from home in Europe either in this campaign, so if Emery wants to lead his team to their third straight Europa League trophy, he really needs to address the issue.
They will be facing familiar foe in the quarter final in Athletic Bilbao, but with the business end of the season on the horizon, Sevilla still have a lot to achieve on three fronts. The question is can they translate their home from to the road, something that is going to be pivotal to any success they have.