A few short weeks ago, Sevilla were on an incredible run of form, and looked ready to start a thorough and long-term assault on the European parts of the table if not the Champions League spots at the very top of the table. Halfway through the match two weeks ago, in fact, things continued to seem that way: hosting Levante, they’d come back from 0–1 to take a 2–1 lead. And then, after taking the lead, they…quickly shit the bed, conceded two goals, and then lost the game. The following week, they hosted rivals Malaga, a team that had gone scoreless in its previous 3 games, and repeated the same feat allowing another three goals to a team that averaged less than a goal per game before facing Sevilla. Sunny dispositions and optimistic feelings around this blog quickly changed to something not unlike despair. Reader Mark had a really in-depth comment that nicely summarized the milieu: how are we dropping leads late in the game, why are we playing the people we’re playing, why are we sitting the people we’re sitting, and just generally…what the hell?
And now the team hosts a Barcelona side that is either on really terrible form or is a wounded tiger ready to maul someone, depending on your perspective. Sevilla, meanwhile, is struggling defensively, offensively, and as of this week also psychologically, as Marin has been allowed to return to his home country for some kind of unspecified “personal problem”. So…not a great look for Sevilla coming into a game that’s had its share of rotten recent memories, although for what it’s worth Manolo Jimenez is feeling confident in his old club, predicting a 2–1 win that I think I can safely say would make everyone here thoroughly ecstatic. In Sevilla’s favor, Puyol continues his ongoing proof to the world that he is simply too old to play at a top-level club every week by once again being out of the lineup for an injury; this is especially significant given that Mascherano and Alba will also be missing from the Catalan’s defensive front for sanctions. Of course it won’t matter, and Sevilla will likely battle heroically all game long to build a 1–0 lead only to see Fazio get a stupid red card followed by Messi waking from his recent slumber to score a late game brace, gifting Barca 3 points they did little to earn.
On that note, vamos, etc.