It’s been a highly satisfactory season if you herald from the Rojiblanco side of Andalusia. Fans will be delighted with the way their team grew into the campaign despite early problems to run Athletic Bilbao close in the race for the final Champions League place. Throw in a third Europa League triumph in eight years after a marathon 19-match run in the competition and it has been an excellent return for Coach Unai Emery in his first full season in charge at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
But it didn’t start that way. Sevilla looked to be paying a heavy price for the departures of the likes of Alvaro Negredo, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Jesus Navas when they mustered two points from their first five League fixtures. A 4-1 win over Rayo Vallecano in late September got Emery’s team off the mark and they stabilised with a five-match unbeaten run. A remarkable 7-3 defeat to Real Madrid followed but it was merely a blip. By the time the winter break came around, the Andalusians had climbed to seventh.
Just as the Rojiblancos began the campaign slowly, their momentum post-Christmas was checked with a six-match winless run. Once again, a win over Rayo proved the turning point and Emery’s men subsequently won nine of their next 10 La Liga matches.
The Champions League however proved a bridge too far as Sevilla then lost a decisive match with Athletic that ended their hopes. They went on to finish fifth, seven points shy of their Basque rivals but a four-place improvement on their standing last term.
Kevin Gameiro and Carlos Bacca proved excellent acquisitions in attack while Ivan Rakitic played a starring role in midfield. Young left-back Alberto Moreno continues to impress and seems set for big things.
Sevilla also enjoyed a truly remarkable Europa League run. If a comeback quarter-final win over arch-rivals Real Betis was particularly sweet, they went one better in the drama stakes when an injury time goal from Stephane Mbia eliminated Valencia on away goals. Victory on penalties against Benfica in the final was a fitting way for Sevilla to claim the trophy.
Whether they can build on their success will depend on their ability to keep hold of their main men. For now though, the Rojiblancos can look back on an excellent 12 months