Sevilla will bring an 'energetic, enterprising and physical' style of football to Anfield on Wednesday, with new boss Eduardo Berizzo having made his team tough to beat since his arrival in the summer.
That’s according to Spanish football expert Rob Palmer, who has given us a comprehensive lowdown on Liverpool’s first group-stage opponents in this season’s Champions League.
“A lot’s changed for Liverpool since the 2016 Europa League final in Basel, and there’s been quite a big turnaround in Spain for Sevilla too,” Palmer, a La Liga commentator for Sky Sports, explains in the latest edition of #LFCWORLD.
“They’ve had managerial departures, most of the team has left too, there’s been a lot of outgoings, a lot of incomings and it’s going to be a completely different Andalusian side that’s going to be travelling to Liverpool.”
Read on for Palmer’s in-depth analysis of Sevilla, who have taken seven points from their opening three league games of the season and, like Liverpool, qualified for the Champions League group phase through the play-offs.
On their 2016-17 campaign…
Unai Emery was always going to be a big act to follow and they brought in Jorge Sampaoli. This little bulldog of a manager came in and you never quite knew what you were going to get with him - sometimes he’d play defensive football, sometimes he’d play attacking football. They were brilliant and at one point they were challenging for the top two, playing in the Champions League as well, but Sampaoli was asked by the Argentinian FA to become the national team manager and he said that when your country comes calling, you’ve got to take the job.
But it all went horribly wrong then, they went out of the Champions League, they lost their momentum and it all kind of just fell apart and meandered into nothing at the end of the season.
He’s another Argentinian, he was a no-nonsense central defender in his day for Argentina. He’s served his apprenticeship in South America as well as a manager [and] he came to Celta Vigo last year. Celta are a team and a club that are not unlike Sevilla [although] they’ve got slightly less of a budget and he’s taken the step up from a good club, a good mid-table club that does well in Europe, to a top-four club. Things aren’t going to change [at Sevilla]; I’d imagine the style of football’s going to be similar. They’re going to be an energetic, tall, physical team.
On this season…
It’s been an unspectacular start to the season, they kind of limped into the Champions League against Istanbul Basaksehir and on the opening night of the season they drew against Espanyol. They had a tough game against Getafe and won 1-0 [and then defeated Eibar 3-0 on Saturday] so it’s been neat and steady. If you look at the results in Europe and domestically, [Berizzo] has got them defending well.
On their summer signings…
They’ve brought in Muriel from Sampdoria, Kjaer from Fenerbahce, he’s some player. Ever Banega’s come back, he played in the Europa League final against Liverpool, [they’ve got] Nolito from Manchester City, who’s been brilliant in Spain, they’ve got Pizarro from Tigres who they’ve been chasing for a while, they’ve got Jesus Navas back from City. Navas is a hero, a son of the city, and about 10,000 fans turned out when he came back to town and it’ll lift his game being in the colours of Sevilla.
They’ve signed a couple on loan too - Lionel Carole and Johannes Geis - so I think that’s eight players who have come in [and] eight players have gone out. They won’t really have weakened the team or strengthened the team. It’ll be the same old Sevilla - or the same new Sevilla, depending on how you want to look at it.
On Wednesday’s game…
It’ll be the same formula they had in the Europa League - keep it tight away from home, defend, frustrate and if you can quieten Anfield, which isn’t easy to do, and then rely on what you can do when you get back home. If they’re going to come and win at Anfield they’re going to win 1-0, they’re going to rely on a corner or a free-kick routine or something because they’re a big, very, very tall team.
But of course we do know that Jürgen Klopp has got an unbelievable record at Anfield, especially when it comes to European football. European nights, it’s a cliche but it’s also true that they are so special; at Anfield you’re not just facing the team, you’re facing the manager, who fires himself up for the occasion, you’re facing the supporters and you’re taking on history as well.
So Sevilla have got all of that coming up against them, but they’re going to be energetic, they’re going to be enterprising. It’s early in their season [but] they haven’t had midweek games yet, which is always a problem for the Spanish teams. Plus it’s getting a little bit cold in September, that might be against them because Seville is the hottest city in Europe. So hopefully it’s a cold, rainy night at Anfield and the Liverpool supporters make it really uncomfortable and Jürgen Klopp keeps up his incredible record in Europe.