Sevilla is a Place and a Feeling

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

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. Yeah, should be a cracker tonight, Isaiah. I’m looking forward to a quiet day in watching footie as the first snows of winter and road closures hit Glenshee just a drive up the road from me .

    A very straight to the point article for you which probably captures the importance of this one and prepares us for what is likely to be a stressful ninety minutes given we don’t seem to have any of our injured players back. ( On a side note, I never remember to thank you but I always look forward to the “travelogue” ones, although I think I remember you doing one on Sevilla in previous seasons , which made me want to visit the place – until a friend who had been informed me that in his opinion it was the hottest place in Europe ! Likewise with Kxevin who I don’t always agree with but read avidly and I’m just amazed at not just his output but the high standard of writing.. Thanks to both for keeping us going.

    * This periodic acknowledgement was brought about by the good lady remarking that I was on this site yet again , typing furiously away and what would I do if it weren’t here ! )

    On another note, I came across a decent article from Sid Lowe regarding the current state of our play. He’s a very good writer but I sometimes feel he’s a bit careful and I’d like to see him leave the fence a little on some of the issues he covers . I thought this was a good one , though , and agreed with much, although not all, of it. In particular I liked the section on Busi given our current discussions

    From : “But Busquets is a barometer; his form is a consequence of the way Barcelona have lost control, not just a cause. Collectively, this is not quite functioning as it should. Stats show that more of Busquets’ passes are going backwards to the defenders rather than forward to the inside midfielders than ever before: passing lines are not being opened up as they were. It is not just that Barcelona miss Iniesta or that he is an exceptional player; it is the kind of exceptional player he is. Their other midfielders are just not the same.”

    Article here.

    It mentions that LE’s only decision is which midfielder takes the third spot. I’d kinda like to see a bit more thought put into the structure. Mind you, as always, if Messi turns it on he can settle it himself.

    Anyway, RM beckons. Haven’t watched them this season yet and the Vlasico ain’t far away.

    1. I definitely want to add my thanks to the writers as well!

      But also thank you to those who keep the comments section worth reading, like Jim himself (and while we’re at it, you still could have the chance to turn those page-long comments of yours into “real” blog posts – imagine, you even get to choose a fancy picture to go with them) and many others.

      Sevilla have been a very good team for some time now though I think the outcome was usually favorable for us. I haven’t seen the team play under Sampaoli yet and I’m expecting a real contest between two sides playing attacking football. Wonderful.

  2. Thanks Isaiah. Appreciate your writing and your efforts in keeping this blog the best on the sphere. This will be a tough game. No question. Which Sevilla will show up? Which Barca? Losing Pique, Alba, & Ghost face has definitely left us without rhythm. I had been lamenting the slow ball movement, lack of our midfield making any sort of penetrating runs, & lack of off the ball movement in prior games. Then the Masterclass of a 1st half display we put on at the Ethiad gave me such joy I was almost overcome with laughter. One mistake later and we go into the half 1-1. Buis is spent. The problem is if we want to win the league then he has to stay on the pitch because Gomes doesn’t provide the same skill set to give him a rest. We need Roberto on the right and don’t have an effective 2nd choice for him on that side. Mash has to partner Umtiti until Pique gets back. So when and where do we rest Busi for an extended run? Looking forward to the game. To see what our reaction is. Could be a good one for us to pour in goals bc Sampioli loves to attack. Hopefully Suarez can get off the mark and get some confidence back. Watched Sociedad totally outclass AM yesterday. They are a real good team. Played some majestic footy that would be the envy of any club in the world. Well, the North London Darby just started so going to watch it.

  3. This is one of the worst halves I’ve seen us play. Rakitic is not doing anything for us out there except giving it away. Roberto with a terrible error for the goal. Busi has no help. Tried to push him up and we’ve given it away so cheaply that he’s been pushed back again. Neymar gives the ball away right at edge of box and instead of pressing immediately and fighting to get it back he simply puts his hands on his knees feeling sorry for himself. Suarez’s struggles continue. Scuffs a great look that could’ve had us up against the run of play. Digne looks out of his depth. Denis. I’m not sure what he brings to our starting 11. Have not been even slightly impressed with him this whole season. How about giving some B teamers a run out and see what they have? Maybe this isn’t the game, but we’ve had a few this year already that could’ve been perfect opportunities. I’m desperate for Pique to get back. Iniesta as well but that will be a longer wait. Alba is needed, bc I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we need his defence on the flanks. Haven’t realised how much we rely on his speed to bail us out a few times a game. I hope Enrique makes a couple personnel and tactical changes 2nd half. It’s needed if we want to to get any kind of points out of this

  4. Ok, first we need to get through this with a win then afterwards we can talk about what’s going on. Time for LE to sort things at half time. Although I have the gnawing, and growing, feeling that actually I’m not sure anymore if our back line and mids are better than their mids and forwards. I’m gonna except Umtiti here and also probably Busi . Umtiti must wonder what he’s walked into.

    Did I mention before thank God for Messi ?

  5. Btw. This ref has had quite a few opportunities to hand out yellows to Sevilla and has chosen to ignore them. Ridiculous

  6. LE def lit a fire under their asses. So much better from us. Begs the question why? I’ll have to give Denis the Menace his due. Been much better this half. Messi with almost a 2012 goal! Ray said it best. “Would’ve been hanging it up in the Louvre”. Classic Ray Ray

  7. Ganso getting a run out. That kid was supposed to be Brazil’s #10 for years. Never fulfilled his promise. He was outstanding in some games I watched several years ago.

  8. What a game. Exciting to watch like Premier League, but actually with great skill on both sides.

    A LOT of credit to Sevilla. First half, it wasn’t only Barca being slow, it was also incredibly good play from them. If they had been slightly better at finishing, or our defense hadn’t put out fires at the last second again and again, they could have scored three in that half.

    Second half, Barca was very good, but I think it had also to do with Sevilla not being able to play that kind of football for 90 minutes (remember Chile under Sampaoli). Many from our team were very good that half, but Messi reminds me a bit of those power-ups from old video games, where you can make your character (in this case our whole team) a lot stronger for a limited amount of time.

    I was only glad that strong backpass from Umtiti to an empty goal (Ter Stegen being wide out) didn’t go in. Now that would have been a disappointment.

  9. Thank you, Jim, GeorgJorge, and Messiah10 for your kind words. We are back on the trail of regular writing now, so I hope to do some travelogue type stuff over the coming months (though I’ve done most of the cities in Spain over time!)–I’ll add in a few cents worth of thoughts in the CL since I had the fantastic opportunity to see so much of Europe over the last 2 years. Especially if we draw some more Germans!

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