Fans of Sevilla and Atlético Madrid will have left the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan with opposing feelings following their encounter on Saturday.
A 0-2 victory gave Los Colchoneros their first away win against Sevilla since the 2017-18 season. This capped off a day of celebration for what was captain Koke Resurreccion’s 554th game in red and white stripes. With this match, he surpassed Adelardo Rodríguez’s 46-year-old record and has become the player with most appearances in the club’s history.
As for Sevilla, further pain was inflicted on a team now seemingly as disjointed as ever. From president to coach to players to fans, this is a club now firmly in turmoil and some big decisions will need to be taken in the coming days.
Koke shines in liberated role
As for the actual game, it was Atleti who had the first sight of goal. Record-breaker Koke’s cross-come-shot almost caught Sevilla keeper Bounou off guard, but the Moroccan was able to tip the ball over the bar.
Koke started as he meant to go on, playing his best game of the season so far. With the two first choice centre backs of Stefan Savic and Jose Maria Giménez fit to start, it meant Axel Witsel was able to join Koke in the centre of the park, giving him the security to be the creative spark of the match. He created three chances, more than in any other game he’s played this season, and played more passes in the final third (20) in this match than any other this season as well. A flashback to the Koke we saw when the likes of Gabi and Tiago played alongside him in successful seasons gone by. Perhaps that assurance that Witsel gives in midfield will allow him to play a more pivotal role in the offensive build-up going forwards.
It was a Koke pass that led to the first goal of the match, with Atleti pressing high up and winning the ball back from a Sevilla throw deep in their own half. That pass found its way to Marcos Llorente, who scored his first La Liga goal since May 2021, ending a drought of 51 games. Playing in a much more advanced position on the right side of a front three, Llorente finished well into the far corner, and almost found a second not long after with a shot into the side netting.
Just over 10 minutes into the second half, Atleti would double their lead, capitalising on some worrying defending by Jose Angel Carmona. The Sevilla youth product, who has shone in recent games, failed to deal with a long and high goal kick from Jan Oblak. Matheus Cunha was first to react and the ball eventually found its way through to Álvaro Morata, who finished wonderfully for his fourth league goal of the campaign.
A new look 4-3-3 put out by Diego Simeone really seemed to have it all as not only did they look dangerous on the front foot, but also did a good job of keeping Sevilla at bay. A great save from Oblak denied Youssef En-Nesyri’s header and a Nemanja Gudelj long range effort flashed wide, but apart from that Sevilla never really looked like scoring.
Sevilla fans unhappy
With increasing pressure from the crowd, the home players started to lack intensity and by the end of the match, it didn’t feel like a contest anymore. And it was the home fans who made their feelings known at full time with “Pepe Castro, dimisión” sung in full voice by the vast majority in Nervión, calling for the resignation of their president. But having spoken to various fans at the game, it was clear to me that not all of the blame is being given to the man at the top. Some are not happy with sporting director Monchi for failing to replace players in the summer and some point the blame directly to the manager. “Lopetegui has to leave now if he has any respect” said one fan who was sat behind me, disagreeing with his friend who thought it was Monchi’s time to move on after 22 years. “Monchi has had one bad year, you can’t blame him for this” he added.
Whoever it is that is at fault, things will need to change soon with Sevilla heading into October in crisis mode, a month jam packed full of league and Champions League games to be fitted in before the World Cup. Training ground spats between ultras and left back Marcos Acuña on Sunday morning were followed by rumours of Jorge Sampaoli returning to replace Lopetegui. A manager who the fans and local press feel has unfinished business at the club having been in charge during the 2016-17 season, before being called to the Argentina national team in their bid to win the last World Cup four years ago.
Both teams will have to put this result behind them quickly with Champions League football fast approaching. Atleti will travel to Belgium to face Club Brugge in an attempt to join them at the top of Group B. Whereas Sevilla will host Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, trying to haul themselves off the bottom of Group G.