Manchester City are set to finish off a successful UCL Group G campaign against the foe they started with. Sevilla FC make a visit to the Etihad before heading off to the Europa League. Our good mate Chris Lail of Monchi’s Men is back to catch us up on all that's happened with the Sevillistas since we last saw them in September.
CITYZENDuck: It’s been an eventful 2 months since Sevilla and Man City last met. The Sevillistas are sitting 18th in La Liga and are soon off to the Europa League once again. How is the mood among club supporters?
Chris Lail: It’s a bit of optimism, mixed with some skepticism, a dash of hope, and a pinch of anger. I know many thought we were in for a disappointing season, but I don’t think many thought we would see ourselves in the bottom three of La Liga after 12 matches. It’s been tough going this season with a coaching change happening on October 5th after the Dortmund Champions League defeat.
CD: Given the current state of affairs, what do you see as the best-case scenario for Sevilla this season?
CL: The best case is still a run to finish in the top 6 of La Liga with a long run in Europa and the Copa Del Rey. Is that realistic, probably not; however, there are 78 points remaining on the table to chase—still plenty of time to make the climb. Lots depend on January’s transfer window, getting some players healthy, staying healthy over the World Cup, and finding a reliable goal scorer. That’s a lot of ifs, but I think the fans think Sampaoli is up for the challenge.
CD: Since the last meeting, Sevilla has made a switch at manager with familiar face Jorge Sampaoli taking over from Julen Lopetegui. How would you assess the “new” boss?
CL: Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss – The Who
Sampaoli is back to finish what he started back in 2016-2017. Sevilla fans are very familiar with his style, mentality, and expectations. Much different than Lopetegui, Sampaoli wants to score goals, and the more he can score the better.
Currently, I don’t think he has the players to fit that style, but he has helped solidify the defense and you can see a difference in the quickness of play. We still have a long way to go to reach that level of 16-17, but hopefully, we get there.
CD: And finally, what is your prediction for this highly meaningless UCL Group Stage finale?
CL: One of the most pointless games in some time for both clubs. My prediction is Sevilla will try to conserve energy, play some fringe players, and maybe experiment a bit with a 2 forward system to gain some confidence among our out-of-form strikers.
A win would be nice for the budget, but in reality, I don’t think we stand a chance of that. The player’s heads will be focused on this weekend’s league matchup with our city rivals and the best derbi in European football, Real Betis.