The match started quickly, with a 13th minute goal from the visitors. Then there was a red card for the home team, missed penalty for the away team, an equalizer, what turned out to be a winner for the home team, and then 2 reds for the visitors. The name of the last goalscorer is Dani Alves and the colors he wore were white.
That match, from March 2007, is what I remember about visiting Sevilla: gritty, hard-nosed brawls that invariably ended with lost points for the blaugrana. Since that day, though, Barcelona has only dropped all 3 points in Sevilla once. And it just happens to be the last time they visited as league opponents. Since Ronaldinho missed that penalty (and Giuly and Zambrotta were sent off), Barcelona has won 5 times in La Liga while visiting Andalucia’s big club, drawing the other 3.
It’s strange to consider that a visit to the Sanchez Pizjuan might actually be closer to a 90 minute spa treatment than a glimpse into the 9th circle that we’re led to believe, although if it is a massage judging by the number of cards handed out it’s more like one of those deep tissue deals where you’re not sure if you’re being relaxed or tortured to death.
Or if you’re being gaslighted because this Sevilla team is bananas. They’ve earned a clean sheet three times in 10 matches, but of course they did so against Atletico Madrid and Villarreal (the latter a goalless draw) as well as against crosstown rivals Betis. And also they allowed 4 goals from Espanyol in their first league match. But, of course, Sevilla won 6-4. They’ve only lost once–at Athletic Bilbao–but also have only won by 2 goals once (that would be the Espanyol match).
In the Champions League they’re virtually a lock to qualify for the knockout stages, despite scoring just 2 goals in their first 3 matches. Their 4th match, at home against Dinamo Zagreb, they blasted in 4. Because of course. There is no such thing as a typical Jorge Sampaoli performance. Unless you think “batshit and temperamental” is a good substitute for “typical”.
Oh right, cause Jorge Sampaoli is involved. How did I make it 5 paragraphs before I mentioned him? And yet, for all of his fame and sort of hipster choice for best coach you’re just now hearing of, his teams have performed kind randomly. I mean, this is a guy who has won Copa America with Chile and also led several smaller teams to overachieving domestic positions. World Cup 2014 was one of those situations where their knockout match with Brazil could have gone either way (though Brazil were better overall, I thought).
So what can we expect from a Luis Enrique team facing a Jorge Sampaoli team?
Lots of yellow cards. Maybe lots of cards that are not yellow. Maybe we’ll be in a 0-0 struggle for looks at goal or maybe it’ll be 7-7 with 30 minutes left. In the first half. You can never know because this is Sevilla.
And that’s just, simply, the best. I love playing Sevilla because it could be 5-0 or 0-5 or 4-4 or 0-0 or, well, you get the idea. 3 points of somehow -3 points. Whatever you do, you simply won’t be able to see the end result coming. Which is just perfect. Sevilla is a place and a feeling. And that feeling is the feeling of immeasurable history being shown new and industrious ways of being ridiculous.
Official prediction: −b2 – 5i