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09.02.2008 11:19

Sevilla continue their fightback

Jesús Carrillo

Alter a poor start to the season, Sevilla have mangaed to climb the table – they found themselves in 15th after seven games – and are now two points off a UEFA spot and seven off a Champions League place. Things are looking up then for Sevilla.

Alter three seasons of the highest level of football, Sevilla started this season with two clear aims: to get as far as possible in the Champions League and, at the very least, repeat last year’s preformance in the league and cup. The first has been fully achieved. Sevilla have made the best Champions League debut in history, winning five first phase games and fifteen out of a possible eighteen points, not to mention winning Group H ahead of Arsenal and eliminating Slavia Prague and Steaua Bucharest.


On the other hand, things haven’t gone so much to plan in the league. At the start of the competition, following the blow of the tragic death of Antonio Puerta, Sevilla lost a lot of games in the first third of the season. Now, Sevilla have become a force again in the Sánchez Pizjuán, but away from home their performances have been discreet to say the least. The statistics show that Sevilla haven’t won more than three league games in a row, and have only won two games away from home, against Levante and Recreativo, both in the relegation zone.

No draws in the “Sánchez Pizjuán”

knt2.jpgIt is also curious that Sevilla haven’t drawn any of their home games. Manolo Jiménez’s side either wins or loses. The Andalusians have won three points against Getafe, Recreativo, Valencia, Real Madrid, Murcia, Racing, Betis and Osasuna, and they’ve lost against Espanyol, Deportivo and Mallorca. Sevilla have won the same number of games as they’ve lost – 10 – and they’ve drawn twice, both away.

Key figures

There have been a lot of key figures in the recent history of Sevilla, starting on the bench. Juande Ramos signed for Tottenham after only eight league games and Manolo Jiménez rose from the youth ranks in the second division to take control of the first team only 48 hours later. Other key figures are this season’s new signings, Boulahrouz, De Mul, Keita, De Sanctus and Mosquera were signed last summer. Aitor Ocio, Cobeño, David Castedo and Kepa are injured. Diego Capel and the Argentinian Federico Fazio have come up strongly from the youth squad, and Hinkel, Jesuli, Martí and Fernando Sales were signed during the transfer window. Club captain Javi Navarro has been out all season with a serious injury.

The setting

Tonight’s game will be played in the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. It has a capacity of 45,500 and the 5,000 tickets for sale – Sevilla have 40,500 season ticket holders – were sold out days ago. The stadium was opened in 1958. With Frank Rijkaard on the bench, Barça have won and lost two league games and drawn one cup tie. The memory of the game in season 2005/06 is a curious one. Both teams went through the motions, mutually respecting the opposition’s position as champions – Barça had already won the league and days earlier Sevilla had beaten Middlesborough to win the UEFA Cup. Four days later Barça would win the Champions League final in Paris.
Sevilla continue their fightback
Dani Alves and Kanouté
Two players returning to the starting eleven are Dani Alves and the African Kanouté. The full back can play tonight thanks to his yellow card last week against Recreativo being overturned. Meanwhile, Kanouté has recovered from the hernia problem he picked up after the African Cup of Nations and is fit to play. In theory, Fazio will play in place of the suspended Aquivaldo Mosquera and it’s very possible that the Malian Seydou Keita will return to the starting eleven.

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