Sevilla’s struggles: is relegation a real possibility?

10.11.2022 09:51:50 Ashlee Kiddell
Sevilla FC fans
  • Sit 17th in LaLiga after 14 games following a poor start to the season
  • Jorge Sampaoli was brought in at the beginning of October but there’s been little improvement 
  • Have not won in any of their last five league matches 

 

Life in Seville for Los Palanganas has been extremely difficult after 14 matches of their LaLiga campaign. Wednesday evening’s 2-1 home defeat against Real Sociedad added to their woes, meaning that they have now failed to win in any of their last five matches in the league. 

Disciplinary issues also seem to be coming to light for Sevilla. Sampaoli’s side were reduced to nine men after just 35 minutes against Sociedad due to the dismissals of Ivan Rakitic and summer signing Tanguy Nianzou

Sevilla were also a man down away to Real Betis last weekend in the first El Gran Derbi of the season. As always, the intensity and fierce nature of the match was on show with referee Jose Maria Sanchez brandishing three red cards, two for Betis and one for Sevilla

Despite having a man advantage for the majority of the second half, Sevilla were unable to find victory and were held to a 1-1 draw. 

 

From Champions League to relegation candidates

It has been a bit of a shock at just how poor Sevilla have been so far this term. They finished fourth in LaLiga last season under former Spanish national team and Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui.  

However, a poor start to the year saw them sack Lopetegui at the beginning of October. He was replaced by Jorge Sampaoli and the Argentine boss was certainly no stranger to life as Sevilla head coach; he also occupied the role for the 2016/17 campaign. 

Having guided Sevilla to a fourth-placed finish back in 2017, it seemed as though Sampaoli would be able to get things back on track. However, after a small initial improvement, the situation does not seem to have ameliorated at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium. 

Of course, the sale of two star defenders over the summer in the form of Diego Carlos and Jules Kounde was always going to be a cause for concern but their departures have been detrimental to the team. They have conceded the tied-fourth most goals in LaLiga so far this term (22), whilst also averaging less than a goal per game. 

 

What has been happening under Sampaoli?

Sevilla are in 17th place after 14 games of the season so far and they have just 11 points. They saw a slight upturn in form after Sampaoli came in but their poor recent run of form suggests there has been very little real improvement. 

Sampaoli has been experimenting with different systems as he tries to get Sevilla’s season back on track, switching between three-defender and four-defender formations. He has also been attempting to strengthen the defence by opting for experience rather than youth. 

Since taking charge, the former Marseille head coach has just one win in the league, drawing three and losing three. However, some defensive improvements have been on show, conceding on average 1.29 goals per game in LaLiga since Sampaoli’s arrival compared to 1.86 under Lopetegui

Sevilla have been scoring at the same rate as they were under both coaches and so the improvement in defence would suggest that they would be able to pick up more points. That is actually correct, despite the continued poor form; Sevilla averaged 0.71 points per game under Lopetegui and that has marginally increased to 0.86 under Sampaoli

Of course, these statistics should be taken with a pinch of salt due to the small volume of games and ultimately, things have not improved at all for Sevilla when looking at the results.  

Champions League form has improved slightly, however, and Sevilla did manage to pick up a 3-0 win over FC Copenhagen at the end of October. The win helped them secure Europa League knockout qualification after a third-placed finish in Champions League Group G. 

Not to mention the much-improved performance away to Borussia Dortmund where Sevilla managed to share the points at Signal Iduna Park. All is not lost in terms of Sevilla’s season just yet. 

 

Are Sevilla genuine relegation candidates?

Defensive issues are obviously a big cause for concern but what will be most concerning for the Sevilla faithful is their lack of goals. Rafa Mir was their top goalscorer in LaLiga last season with ten but he has scored just twice in the league so far during this year’s campaign. 

Lucas Ocampos, who scored six goals and assisted four last year, departed the club over the summer after he joined Ajax on loan. Another important departure alongside Carlos and Kounde.  

After Youssef En-Nesyri’s sensational 2020/21 campaign, where he scored 18 league goals, the Moroccan international has failed to play at the same standard. He scored just five goals in the Spanish top flight last season and is yet to score in the league thus far. Erik Lamela and Oliver Torres are the top league goalscorers with three apiece but it is simply not enough for Sevilla.

Sampaoli has largely used a false nine since he took charge and the clear need for an out and out goalscorer to lead the line is prevalent. Wednesday’s loss at home to Sociedad was the club’s final match before the break for the World Cup so Sevilla are going to have to stew over their problems for the best part of the next two months. 

There’s plenty of the season left to go but Sevilla could even drop down to 19th if Celta Vigo and Cadiz pick up just a point in their games in hand. It is still tight in the bottom half of LaLiga and Sevilla are only five points behind Valencia in 12th but the threat of relegation is very real if they don’t change their performances soon.

 

 

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