On the surface, things don’t look too bad for Sevilla. After a horrific start to the season, they have hauled their way up the table and are again challenging for Europe. Yet, despite their renaissance, there is still a huge blot on their copybook – they are yet to win a La Liga match away from home this season.
It’s the kind of statistic you have to double-check just to be sure, yet in 14 away matches, Los Nervionenses have not beaten a single team and face the real possibility of finishing the season without doing so. Amazingly, they came within just four minutes of securing their first victory on the road on Saturday, only for Getafe’s Emiliano Velazquez to deny them.
Their performances away from home are the complete antithesis to their dominant and assured performances at Sanchez Pizjuan, where they recently celebrated their 12th straight victory by defeating Eibar.
So the question remains: how much better could Sevilla be doing this season, had they picked up a few more victories on the road? Unai Emery’s side have dropped 33 points on their travels in 2015-16. If it was even half that, Los Rojiblancos would be above third-placed Real Madrid.
And a trip to the Santiago Bernabeu awaits, a match which should hold a lot more significance than it currently does. Even fourth place would be an improvement on last term, although nobody seems to want it. Villarreal lost at home to Las Palmas and Celta Vigo were thrashed by Real Madrid, while the struggles of Valencia are well-documented. It’s there for any of them if they want it.
Their away form hasn’t looked close to improving. In fact, their last three games on the road have seen them take the lead, only to falter later on, including letting a two-goal lead over Rayo Vallecano slip.
It is in these moments of ascendancy that Emery wishes he could call upon Grzegorz Krychowiak. Out since January with strained knee ligaments, his absence is at times understated, but a player with his particular qualities would be of great use to the team.
The only Sevilla player to make the team of the season last term, the Pole currently leads the League in average interceptions per game, and the Andalusians will be desperate to get him back on the pitch as the games stack up, although they will be wary of losing him in the summer.
While their League form could be better, Emery and his boys are firing on all cylinders in other competitions, having reached the Copa del Rey final and, after their Champions League exit, resumed their dominance in Europa League.
Euro 2016 is likely to be Vicente del Bosque’s curtain call with Spain, and thoughts will inevitably turn who the national team will appoint as his successor. Former Sevilla boss Joaquin Caparros seems the frontrunner for the job, yet based on his recent success, Emery must be a strong candidate.
With back-to-back Europa titles, Emery is – and quite rightly so – on the RFEF’s radar. But Spain’s gain will be Sevilla’s immense loss as they could lose one of the most successful Coaches in their history.
Champions League football would be a great persuader as far as keeping Emery, so Sevilla will need to step their game up. Winning an away game would be a good start.