Whilst Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid do battle at the top of La Liga, Sevilla have slipped almost unnoticed into the picture.
Nestled just nicely behind the top three, Unai Emery’s side have been playing a brand of football this season that has been just as good as anything seen at the Santiago Bernabeu, Camp Nou or Vicente Calderon.
In fact, this is the best first half to a league season in Sevilla’s history and it’s been no accident either.
Despite losing some of their best players including Ivan Rakitic and Federico Fazio, the Andalusians have positively blossomed.
The Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan has become something of a fortress and only Sampdoria during pre-season have left town with a win.
Emery will want to thank Barcelona of course, for their loans of Denis Suarez and Gerard Deulofeu. After a slow start for the latter, which forced Barca to make a call to send him back if he wasn’t played, Deulofeu has settled well and has begun to replicate the form that he showed at Everton.
Yes, he still has the swagger and the belief that he can beat everyone on the pitch, but he is at least backing up the statement with good, solid hard work – and with an end product. Just take a look at his assist for Carlos Bacca in the recent 2-0 win vs. Malaga. Typical Deulofeu.
No wonder he’s become a cult hero in that part of Spain.
Suarez too. On this form, he could conceivably be in with a shout for their Player of the Year accolade. He has been sensational throughout the midfield, scoring half a dozen and assisting many more. You wonder why Barca ever let him go out on loan in the first place?
Only Atletico Madrid, Athletic Club and Barca have taken all three points against Sevilla, and nine wins out of the last 10 is championship winning form. If they can keep it up in the second half of the season once their Europa League defence kicks in again, then they are in with a very good shout of honours.
Real Madrid will play them in February in a game that, potentially, could give a huge hint as to where the trophy might be heading at the end of the season. Barca too have to travel to Andalusia in a game that will be far harder than their comprehensive 5-1 victory earlier in the season.
Good times return
All of the credit for their performances this season has to go to Emery.
Europa League glory last season might have been the pre-cursor for most supporters to expect unqualified success but football just isn’t like that.
He's built from the ground up slowly, but they're very definitely on an upward curve. Emery's man-management skills remain first-class and he even has Jose Antonio Reyes playing like it was yesterday.
Yes, the good times are definitely back at Sevilla and it’s long overdue.
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