Ahead of Sevilla and Manchester United’s Champions League last-16 clash, Guillem Balague assesses the state of Vincenzo Montella’s squad and what lies in store for Jose Mourinho’s men at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan…
We learnt a few things following Sevilla’s victory over Las Palmas at the weekend. It was only the second time Vincenzo Montella claimed back-to-back wins since taking charge, evidence he’s finally got a preferred line-up, although he will have to get others to join in and help their cause.
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Goalkeeper Sergio Rico has had a timely return to form, former Manchester City winger Jesus Navas is playing at right-back – that’s right, right-back – and the two centre-backs – Gabriel Mercado and Clement Lenglet – are pacey and are happy to play a high line, something they may have to do against Manchester United. Sergio Escudero will be on the left.
The defence will have two holding midfielders front of them, normally Steven N’Zonzi and Ever Banega, who will be back, and in front of that will be Franco Vazquez. The problem with this for Sevilla is that Vazquez seems tired, as too does Joaquin Correa who lines up on the left of the attack.
Pablo Sarabia will line up on the right of the attack and he, along with Correa have been responsible for the majority of the goals. The Navas-Sarabia link down the right is one of the dangers Sevilla possess, and it could have some luck against either Luke Shaw or Ashley Young.
Up front is Luis Muriel, who doesn’t score a lot but adds plenty in terms of build up and coming out of the box and linking up. So be warned United, the danger doesn’t come from just the striker.
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Sevilla are undoubtedly settled and on the way up but the problem is that they don’t score as much as they should and they don’t create as much as they should. That has proven to be their downfall and Las Palmas, who didn’t create a lot, almost turned the game around at the end.
Where Sevilla are at their most dangerous, though, is when they steal the ball and counter attack. They have a good bench, Guido Pizzaro has been replacing Banega while he’s been injured, Miguel Layun has been replacing Escudero on the left.
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Wissam Ben Yedder should be on the bench and they still have Roque Mesa and Sandro who could help too, so it’s quite a strong side. However, it’s not as competitive as the sides of Unai Emery.
Sevilla showed against Liverpool that they can come back from setbacks but I fear that if United score first it could be lethal as they don’t have the mental strength to come back.