Sevilla getting it right again

Though it may be still early in the season to correctly judge Sevilla’s credentials, one aspect more than most is suggesting they’ve got it quite literally, right.

Those many glorious years Sevilla had will not just live long in the memory of supporters who wish for those days to return, but Spanish football as a whole. At one point they were the most exciting team to watch in Spain, and one of several in Europe, as their high tempo football tore through a variety of opponents.

Ask many people who watched that team and they’ll give you the same answer when asking what was its most redeeming feature. It was the right flank. A raw, but incredibly talented Dani Alves was planted supposedly at right-back, but his forays forward were so frequent and ferocious it was hard to truly pin him down to a position. Working in tandem with a scrawny, but speedy and skilful Jesus Navas, the pairing worked to devastating effect. They were young, fearless and struck fear into any defence who dared try to quell them.

When Alves was sold to Barcelona it was expected to be a devastating blow and it was even more so. Players came and went to replace the Brazilian but none were up to task – Abdoulaye Konko and most recently Coke the two main victims. Navas managed to get lost too, before last season finally finding the maturity within him to have an excellent individual season.

Over the summer Sevilla looked to find Navas another partner in crime, and someone to offer balance to a defence that had grown increasingly vulnerable. It was a defence that was meant to soak pressure but they relieved little, and it contributed to Michel’s side often collapsing far too easily last term. It looked like they had their man in Ivan Piris, but his deal wrangled on for too long and the Paraguayan eventually turned up at Roma. Only a few days before, former hero Luis Fabiano had declared Piris ‘The new Dani Alves’. Such comments are often misguided and judging by Piris’ performances prior and now with Roma, the only thing he had in common with the Barca man was they had both played in Brazil.

Monchi, Sevilla’s sporting director, sunk his claws in deep to his South American scouting network again and the report pulled out Cicinho. He was swiftly signed from Palmeiras in eagerness not to repeat the Piris saga.

What has transpired since the club probably did not expect, at least not so soon. Cicinho has settled in superbly and along with Navas they looked to develop a relationship that would likely be key to Sevilla’s season. Cicinho has since referred to playing with Navas as ‘being easy’ because the Spaniard is such a great player, and given the start the Brazilian has encountered it’s clear to see why they get on.

They match each other in speed and aggression in the final third, looking to swing in a delivery or drive at the opposing full-back. A game against Deportivo La Coruna was heading nowhere until an energetic Cicinho run allowed him to slip Navas, who in turn set up Alvaro Negredo’s opener. It’s moves like that which offer Navas support, and relieve some of the burden.

By no way is Cicinho the new Alves though, as he declared himself: “I understand in terms of our style of play, we’re both very attacking minded, but it’s a mistake to expect me to do the same at this club.” Though he did admit, it’s Alves’ shirt he’ll be seeking out when the sides meet this weekend. The ask of Sevilla’s new man is simply to bridge the gap that has existed in recent years in that right-back slot.

Navas meanwhile looks revitalised by the arrival of his new teammate, who is someone to attack with similar vigour to the Spaniard but also offer a safety net behind him. The winger returns the favour, and tracks back to help Cicinho out in times of defensive pressure.

For Sevilla there have been various wrongs, but at long last they’ve proving to be right.

La Liga - Club News