Sevilla currently find themselves in a phase of redevelopment after finishing a disappointing ninth in La Liga last season. The financial impact of just missing out on Champions League qualification during the 2010-11 campaign saw a number of players leave the club last summer, and the subsequent early exit from the Europa League further added to the strain.
The team began the League campaign fairly well, however, going unbeaten in their first nine encounters until falling to a 2-1 defeat against unfancied Granada at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in late October. It was then that the problems began for boss Marcelino and his side. Six defeats in 10 games saw Sevilla plummet down the table and Marcelino was replaced by Michel in February, the former Getafe boss steadying the ship somewhat before guiding them to mid-table safety.
The Coach signed a new one-year deal in June and immediately began preparations ahead of the upcoming season. He has had to do this without a number of players, however, as the board look to reduce their wage bill. Fan favourite Freddie Kanoute bid an emotional farewell after seven seasons and over 200 games for the club, and Uruguayan international Martin Caceres made a permanent switch to Juventus after spending the second half of last season on loan in Turin.
Despite the departures, the club have managed to keep hold of their biggest assets – Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas – and have also bolstered the squad with some intriguing additions. Alberto Botia and Diego Lopez are well known to La Liga fans and are likely to become first-team regulars, however, the capture of youngsters Geoffrey Kondogbia from French side Lens and Chilean starlet Bryan Rabello from Colo Colo offers some real potential for the future.
The difference maker – Alvaro Negredo
Despite a poor Euro 2012 tournament for Spain, Alvaro Negredo remains one of the most consistent strikers in La Liga. The 26-year-old’s goal tally has reached double figures in each of his previous six seasons, and the powerful hitman has struck six times in 12 games for his country.
Best signing – Alberto Botia
The capture of Botia is something of a coup for Sevilla after the highly-rated defender was linked with a return to Barcelona. The Catalans dismissed their buy-back option however, allowing the Andaluz club to snap up the 23-year-old on a season-long loan.
His time? Jesus Navas
Spanish football is finally beginning to see the very best of Jesus Navas as the electric winger puts his personal struggles behind him. The 26-year-old was blighted by anxiety and depression during his early career, however, Navas has been a revelation since returning to the national side in 2010.
Coach – Michel Gonzalez
Having starred as a player for both Real Madrid and Spain, it’s fair to say Michel hasn’t quite hit the same heights as a Coach. A reasonable start at the club will need to be improved upon during his first full season. Failure to qualify for Europe may just make it his last.
The big question…
How long will the club be able to keep hold of star duo Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas?
Probable line-up: LOPEZ; CICINHO, Cala, BOTIA, Navarro; Rakitic, Medal, Navas, del Moral, Reyes; Negredo
IN: Lopez (g, Villarreal), Botia (d, Sporting Gijon), Cicinho (d, Palmeiras), Maduro (d, Valencia), Rabello (m, Colo Colo), Kondogbia (m, Lens)
OUT: Varas (g, Celta Vigo), Caceres (d, Juventus), Escude (d, Besiktas), Alexis (d, Getafe), Armenteros (m, Osasuna), Romaric (m, Real Zaragoza), Guarente (m, Bologna), Kone (a, Levante), Kanoute (a, Beijing Guoan), de Mul (a, TBA), Luis Alberto (a, Barcelona B), Acosta (a, Boca Juniors)