El Centrocampista

Michel misery as Sevilla’s European hopes slip away


What a difference a couple of matches make.  A few weeks ago Sevilla looked rejuvenated under new manager Míchel, but with consecutive losses to Sporting and Barcelona, Los Rojiblancos seem to have lost their way.  

Míchel’s hope of guiding the Andalucian side to a top four this season have all-but gone and if the ex-Getafe boss wants to keep his job beyond May,  his side will have to produce a significant upturn in form.

Despite this, Sevilla will probably consider themselves slightly unlucky not to get anything from a game where they had multiple chances and lots of possession.  Manu Del Moral came closest to a goal for the home side as he caught Gerard Piqué napping from a Jésus Navas cross but Barcelona took their chances with aplomb to punish their hosts – Xavi scoring an excellent free kick and Lionel Messi netting with a majestic chip over keeper Palop.

Míchel had stuck with the same formation that lost away to Sporting last weekend and used a fairly attacking 4-2-3-1 formation.  The Sevilla faithful would also have been happy to see Freddy Kanouté’s name on the team sheet as the hosts have been goal shy in recent weeks and Gary Medel also returned from his suspension.  The Chilean international was sorely missed last week in midfield. Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola made two changes to the team that beat Racing Santander last week at the Camp Nou.  The veteran Puyol and youngster Cuenca both missing out as Adriano and Pedro came back into the team.

There was a reminder before the start of play that there are more important things in life than football.  Both teams wore t-shirts wishing Eric Abidal a speedy recovery as he is set to undergo a liver transplant in the coming weeks, and the gesture was well appreciated by the crowd inside the stadium.

Barça were the better team for the first half an hour of the game.  It was no surprise when Xavi gave the visitors the lead with a delightful free kick.  However, more questions will be asked of the veteran Sevilla keeper, Palop as the thirty nine year old was slow to move towards the ball and maybe should have done better.

Sevilla were just coming to terms with going a goal down when Lionel Messi scored the visitors second of the night. It was another goal to add to the “Messi’s Greates Goals DVD.”  The Argentine clipped the ball through the legs of the defender and as Palop ran off his line the little flea chipped it over his head and into the back of the net. It was Messi’s 231st goal for the club, which leaves him just four goals behind the club’s second all time goal scorer César Rodríguez.

Sevilla would have been forgiven for letting their heads drop and going into defensive mode but they battled well and should have pulled a goal back when Manu Del Moral hit the crossbar with Valdés helpless.

The hosts performed well in the second half and utilised  both Navas and Reyes out wide, causing Barcelona a number of problematic moments.  Although they created chances however, few really had Victor Valdés worried, and when the Barça keeper was asked to make a save, he did so without major difficulty.  It seems that Michel’s side have worked on their creativity in midfield during recent training sessions but more shooting practice will be required to address the team’s real problem.

Sevilla’s recent lack of goals will surely be the major concern for Míchel and he will be hopping to get top scorer Álvaro Negredo back into the action soon – Negredo did make the bench for Saturday’s game but was not risked by his manager.

The team now face two winnable away games at Racing and Granda, before returning back to the Sanchez Pizjuan for a match-up with Mallorca. These games could go a long way t dictating the future for Sevilla and their coach, and fans will be hoping the team can get back to winning ways before the season peters out into an anti-climax after once looking so promising.

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