This is the first installment of a new series: BFB Interviews. It is designed to broaden the horizons not only of this blogger (who needs it), but also of the blog as a whole by asking intelligent and qualified bloggers and thinkers from around the Internet to answer uneducated questions.
In preparation for our second leg Copa del Rey match at the Sanchez Pizjuan, I’ve asked fellow La Liga blogger and all-around smart guy Ryan Knapp to answer a few questions. Check out the Spanish-language blog he’s a part of called El Desmarque and his personal site here and then enjoy his responses.
Barcelona Football Blog: Sevilla obviously has the upper hand because of the result of the first leg in Barcelona, but will that result change the tactical approach? Will Sevilla park the bus, so to speak, and take their chances or will they try to compress our lines again with up-tempo defending? And if they do do the latter, do you have confidence against Barça’s A squad, assuming Guardiola opts for that approach?
Ryan Knapp: It is hard to tell what type of style they will play. The one thing that will hurt us for sure is the absence of Kanoute up front as he is playing in the ACN. We normally do play an attacking style, but we also have been having trouble with some of the smaller teams this season, which is always our MO, playing to the level of the competition.
If we do push forward and play our top level of soccer, we can definitely compete with Barcelona. Sevilla perpetually hang around in the 3rd-4th spot every season, and we do not challenge for the title based on the fact that we lose to lower table teams.
Renato just came out in AS.com saying that if we defend with 11 behind the ball, we might as well just give them the game. So, that should tell you their thoughts.
BFB: Who are the injury/absence concerns for Sevilla? Are any of them irreplaceable?
RK: Kanoute playing in the ACN is big for us as Luis Fabiano is still out with a grade 2-3 ankle sprain. Perotti and Konko are out from knocks they picked up against Racing on Saturday and Squillacci is still out as well. We are looking pretty banged up at the moment.
Not having Jesus Navas is really huge. He gets better and better every season and if he could just get over his insane bouts of homesickness, he would even get a call up for La seleccion. Reports also say that Navarro will be back for the match, which is always a good sign.
BFB: Do you think Sevilla put in a shaky performance against Racing because they were looking ahead to Wednesday’s match? The team has been fairly inconsistent throughout the season, but with wins against Real Madrid in the league and Barça in the Copa del Rey, they’ve obviously proven their talent. Is the inconsistent starting eleven due to injury the biggest factor in these nonsequitor performances?
RK: Not playing the same starting 11 ever always has an impact on your performance, especially with the injuries we’ve suffered. Sevilla did not lost to Racing because of the tie with Barcelona. For us, finishing in the top 4 in a Champions League spot is much more important. However knocking the cules out of their first tournament of the season wouldn’t be a bad accomplishment.
We normally play a 4-4-2 but now because of injury we play some sort of bastardized 4-2-3-1 with Negredo up top saying please give me the damn ball. Now we are all over the place trying to figure out the best system for our new players, some of which have never seen the lights of a La Liga game in their life.
When we are healthy, we can play with the best of them, even when we are unhealthy and we play well we can still give everyone a run. Sevilla play to the level of their competition, and unfortunately, that means losing to teams who we should at least draw.
Injury plagues us every year, but this year it seems to be even worse than normal. We have an okay bench, but when you are reaching 5-6 players deep, the well runs dry.
BFB: SAT question: Sevilla FC::FC Barcelona as blank::blank?
RK: Wile E. Coyote::Road Runner. We always seem to get right behind you guys or in a trap in La Liga, but when it comes time to finish the job, we fall off that damn cliff every time.
BFB: Can you speak to what exactly del Nido is being charged with and how serious you believe the charges are? Beyond that, are his legal problems, regardless of whether he is ultimatley put in jail, causing any concerns within the organization as a whole and amongst Sevillistas in general? and with you in particular? What will happen to the club if he winds up in jail?
RK: To put it simply, [club president] Jose Maria del Nido is being charged with ‘forming a criminal organization’ with it’s goal of robbing the municipality of Marbella of money. That is what the charges say. Marbella is a very expensive city in Spain, but it is also a city that is filled with loads of dirty money (not just from hearsay, from personal experience with business partners).
The charges are serious, but who knows what will happen with regards to actual jail time. One minute he´s looking at 14 years the next he’ll just get probation. It’s anyone’s guess.
I cannot speak as to if his problems are causing a rift or problems in Sevilla FC as a whole. He still backs our club with a fanatical devotion and is completely outspoken about everyone else in La Liga. If he winds up in jail the club will shake off the dirt and move on, but not having del Nido in power would be a very strange feeling, that is for certain.
There have been allegations of this happening for quite some time, so I’m not surprised that it is finally coming to an end. But for me, there is loads of corruption in football to be honest, so am I surprised by it? Not really. Am I upset it’s come to my club? Sure. But life goes on.
BFB: Slightly off topic, but very important to my readers: Would you be willing to work for Real Madrid and get paid very, very handsomely if it meant you had to spend every evening boosting Florentino Perez’s ego while he took a bath? (Optional: While Jorge Valdano croons in the background?) Would it change your answer if it were del Nido?
RK: Well, I’ve already done some work for Sevilla FC on their website as well as been in touch with a few of their front office staff, so I’ll do anything for my club.
Madridistas take a bath? That’s the first I’ve ever heard of that. (Note: MyMadrid may be the coolest iPhone app to hit the stores since ever. Just saying Barça, you might want to get on that.)
BFB: And finally, do you have any score predictions for the Copa and Liga matches?
RK: 1-1 in Nervión. Sevilla go through. League: 2-1 Barça win.
Again, thanks a ton to Ryan for doing this interview. Best of luck with the blog and best of luck in the matches ahead. They should be fun to watch, to say the very least.