Sevilla open their La Liga campaign this evening at the Sanchez-Pizjuan when they take on newly-promoted Rayo Vallecano. Temperatures are sky-high in the Andalusian capital right now and so the game will be played after ten Spanish time, but an intriguing and absorbing opening-day battle is set to commence.
Sevilla finished fourth last season, staying in the title race up until the bitter end. They were an impressive 15 points clear of fifth-placed Real Sociedad and just two behind third-placed Barcelona. Real Madrid and eventual champions Atletico Madrid were seven and nine points away respectively in second and first.
Rayo were promoted via the play-offs last season, and actually finished sixth in the Segunda. They ended the league campaign a remarkable 15 points off both Mallorca and eventual champions Espanyol, who were also promoted to Spanish football’s top table.
“The league season is starting and I have a fantastic idea, which is focusing on the match tomorrow,” Julen Lopetegui said in his pre-match press conference when quizzed about his club’s plans in the transfer market. “Everything else is secondary when the competition starts and that’s where our energy lies. As a well-trained, newly-promoted team, Rayo will force us to compete.”
The Basque struck a similar tone when asked about Sevilla’s title prospects. “Our motto is that we have to fight for what we have in front of us,” he said. “Tomorrow we could get three important points in different circumstances. That’s the maths that I believe in, lots of things will happen throughout the season, and what we must do is build a good, powerful group.”