Sevilla victories over Real Madrid at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan were once a regular occurrence.
Between May 2006 and November 2007 they recorded three in a row, defeating the Merengues 4-3, 2-1 and 2-0. In October 2009, goals from Renato and Jesus Navas helped Manolo Jimenez's Sevilla prevail 2-1 over Manuel Pellegrini's Real.
In those days the following statement from Rojiblancos President Jose Maria del Nido would have seemed perfectly reasonable.
“I would bet that Sevilla will beat Madrid,” the patron declared yesterday. Del Nido's insistence today, however, seems unconvincing at best, mildly ludicrous at worst.
Jose Mourinho doesn't need an excuse to swagger confidently into any opposition ground, but when he arrives at the Sanchez Pizjuan on Saturday evening, he can afford to be particularly smug. On the two visits he has made there on La Liga duty since being appointed Los Blancos boss in 2010, Real have been 3-0 up by half-time. On both occasions they went on to win 6-2.
It's quite a striking turnaround. Since the advent of Mou, Sevilla have gone from being one of Real's most formidable adversaries, to just another bug waiting to be crushed under the boots of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese winger is responsible for a staggering seven of the 12 goals his team have scored in their last two trips to the Andalusian capital.
With two such traumatic beatings still so fresh in the memory, you might expect Los Nervionenses to adopt a conservative, damage limitation strategy this weekend, especially given their own fairly underwhelming start to the campaign – consisting of a narrow 2-1 win at home to Getafe, a 1-1 draw away to Granada, in which they were reduced to 10 men and had to come from behind, and a scoreless draw at Rayo Vallecano in which they contrived to miss two penalties.
But Del Nido isn't the only one exuding enthusiasm.
“These games are the best to play in,” says new Brazilian full-back Cicinho. “We have to go into Saturday and go out to win,” beams youngster Jose Gomez Campana. “I think we can do damage to Madrid,” notes striker Alvaro Negredo.
For Negredo and Coach Michel, as ex-Madrid men, it’s personal. Their bluster is admirable, and Negredo and Del Nido have both reached similar conclusions in recent days – namely that this is a more united and disciplined Sevilla squad than any seen at the Sanchez Pizjuan for quite some time.
Those qualities will have to be translated into something more tangible at 9pm local time on Saturday night, though, if they are to avoid once again being reduced to red and white juice on Ronaldo's studs.