Sevilla flew the flag for Spanish football again in August by winning their sixth Europa League title, while the likes of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid crashed out of the Champions League. Julen Lopetegui’s side will be hoping to kick on this season with another top four finish the priority in LaLiga. Read on for our 2020/21 Sevilla season preview.
Last Season – 4th
While in the end, it was a very successful season for Sevilla, both at home and abroad, it wasn’t plain sailing the whole way. Julen Lopetegui was always going to have to work hard to win over the Sevilla fanbase given his recent background and he struggled to do that initially with his style of football unpopular with sections of the crowd at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.
Surprisingly for a side usually so reliant on their passionate home backing, it was post-lockdown and behind closed doors when Sevilla really found an extra gear. The Andalusians didn’t lose any of their 11 league games after the restart to easily secure a top four finish and then saw off a host of strong sides to win the Europa League yet again.
As a result, they will head into the new season having won 9 of their last 10 competitive games and unbeaten in 21 matches overall since a 2-1 loss in Vigo back in early February. It’s quite a platform from which to build.
Sevilla Summer Transfers
Marcos Acuña | from Sporting Club | €10m
Suso | from Milan | €21m
Bono | from Girona | €4m
Nolito | to Celta Vigo | FREE
Ever Banega | to Al-Shabab | FREE
Simon Kjær | to Milan | €3.5m
Rony Lopes | to Nice | LOAN
Sergio Rico | to PSG | €6m
(Transfers up to 21st September 2020.)
Coach – Julen Lopetegui
As a former Real Madrid coach, not to mention somebody who was portrayed as having betrayed the national team to take charge at the Bernabeu, Julen Lopetegui was not the natural fit for the Sevilla job. There’s not much love lost between the two clubs and Andalusia is one of the relatively few regions of Spain where there is a greater sense of patriotism. Therefore it was no great surprise that Sevilla fans didn’t immediately fall in love with a coach whose demeanour does at times border on dour.
However when fans finally do return to the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, Lopetegui should at last get the plaudits he deserves for the stellar job he did during his first year in Seville. The task of moulding together a squad that mostly consisted of new signings was not an easy one. To end the season with a top four finish and having added a glorious new chapter to Sevilla’s remarkable Europa League story, signalled redemption for a talented coach after all the difficulties he encountered in 2018.
Possible Sevilla Line Up 2020/21
Sevilla have established a pretty clear 4-3-3 system under Julen Lopetegui and despite a few comings and goings, we shouldn’t see any radical shift in how they try to play this season.
Tomas Vaclik should still be the number one in LaLiga, although Europa League hero Bono has joined on a permanent deal from Girona and is likely to again feature in the cups. Left-back Sergio Reguilon is no longer at the club after his loan deal expired and that’s a significant blow with the 23 year old having signed for Tottenham. New arrival Marcos Acuña and Sergio Escudero will compete for a starting role in that position but the rest of the back four should be unchanged unless the club decides to cash in on Jules Kounde who is attracting interest from Manchester City.
In midfield, Ever Banega is another major departure. Ivan Rakitic is a different kind of player but the returning Croatian will bring a wealth of experience and plenty of his own qualities which will make him a real asset. Oscar Rodriguez is another eye-catching summer signing and it’ll be interesting to see quite where he fits in with the former Leganes loanee capable of operating either as an attack-minded central midfielder or in one of the wide roles.
Initially though, the front three is likely to again consist of Lucas Ocampos, Suso and Luuk de Jong. Youssef En-Nesyri will be hoping to convince his coach that he’s worthy of a start ahead of the latter but doubts remain as to whether either is the 20-goal striker that could push Sevilla on to the next level.
Key Man – Lucas Ocampos
— Lucas Ocampos #UEL? #SevillaCampeón (@Locampos15) September 21, 2020
Of all the signings made by LaLiga sides last summer, Sevilla’s purchase of Lucas Ocampos was perhaps the pick of the bunch. He excelled out wide for Julen Lopetegui’s side and in a team that could seldom rely on their strikers to score, Ocampos was a much needed source of goals with 14 in LaLiga.
The Argentine is another who may well attract interest but he seems happy in Seville and will be a huge part of plans for the new season at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.
One to Watch – Óscar Rodríguez
Not unlike Ocampos, Óscar also almost carried his team’s goal threat last season despite not being a natural striker. He chipped in with 9 goals as Leganes nearly pulled off a dramatic escape act. Several of those strikes were from free-kicks as he cemented his reputation as one of the best in LaLiga from a dead ball situation.
Finding a role for Óscar will be a challenge for Julen Lopetegui and even the player himself may not know at this stage in his career what his best position is. Initially Óscar may have to be content with a substitute’s role but Sevilla will have plenty of football to play this season if they progress in the cups and the former Real Madrid man has the talent to force his way into this starting XI if he continues to develop his game.
Sevilla 2020/21 Targets
Sevilla comfortably secured Champions League qualification last season and that will be the aim again. Villarreal have recruited well and could push them hard but there aren’t really any other teams that look capable of making the jump up and really threatening their top four status.
With Barcelona and the Madrid clubs all struggling for cash this summer, there’s even a chance Sevilla could finally be the side to end the domination those three clubs have had on the Spanish top flight for several years now. A title challenge still seems unrealistic but having finished level on points with Atleti last term, they might just pip Diego Simeone’s side to 3rd place this time around although much will depend on what happens in the transfer market over the next couple of weeks with some major late deals expected.
LLE Prediction: 3rd
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