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La Liga: Sevilla Looking to Sneak in the Title Race

Sevilla vs Alaves

While Barcelona and Real Madrid are in the tight race at the top of the La Liga table, Sevilla have quietly enjoyed a great season so far under Julen Lopetegui.

The grizzled mentor steered Los Palanganas to the third seed with 38 points, and they are only trailing behind Los Blancos at five points.

They just got eliminated in the Round of 16 of the Copa del Rey as they lost shockingly to Mirandes. But that shouldn’t dampen their fans’ overall mood as they can now fully turn their focus on the ongoing La Liga season.

This game will mark their first match on a three-game stretch to where they will face the league’s bottom feeders in Celta Vigo and Espanyol right after Alaves.

Speaking of Alaves, they have been underwhelming as usual as they hang on to the 14th spot at the table with 23 points. With the way that they are playing, Alaves will probably be in a precarious position to fight off relegation once again.

 

Talking points

Sevilla in search for some key pieces

One of my fellow SBOTOP writers pointed out that Los Palanganas are in dire need of a reliable striker, and yes that’s definitely the case.

Sevilla have only scored 27 goals this season, but their defence is intact as they’ve only conceded 20 so far. Given with the departure of Javier Hernandez to  LA Galaxy, Julen Lopetegui have scarce options up front.

Their top scorer so far this term has been Munir El Haddadi. The 24-year-old forward notched seven goals and two assists this season. Right behind him are the likes of Lucas Ocampos and Franco Vazquez who have five apiece.

Luuk de Jong celebrates after hitting the opening goal for the Sevilla versus Real Madrid match
Sevilla’s Luuk de Jong celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal during the La Liga match against Real Madrid

Luuk de Jong hasn’t found his stride yet in that department as he only scored four goals. However, he was on target in their loss against Real Madrid with Lucas Ocampos sidelined. But with his recent play in the Copa del Rey, perhaps he is on his way to find his form sooner or later.

Lopetegui’s side, however, boasts a strong midfield led by Ever Banega. The Argentinian national already has two goals and six assists and he has proven that he can help at the backline with his fierce, yet smart tackling.

Sevilla already made a transfer move when they pried Suso away from AC Milan for a 18-month loan deal, according to our La Liga 2020 news. The Spanish winger joined the Rossoneri from Liverpool back in 2015 and has made a name for himself in Serie A.

Suso can somehow alleviate Banega’s heavy duty at the midfield as he is also a capable defender plus a wiley playmaker that is great at creating attacking opportunities.

He will be reunited with Julen Lopetegui as the latter coached him in his first international cap for the Spanish national team when he was younger.

Another name to monitor for Sevilla is Alfredo Morelos. The Rangers FC forward is the third leading scorer in the Scottish Premiership League with 12 goals and one assist. For sure, Lopetegui will keep an eye on him.

 

Alaves in search for improvement

Alaves may be 14th right now in the La Liga table, but they should be worried on their atrocious away form more than anything.

They have only won once in their last five outings as they’ve produced a mixed bag of results.

Losing to Barca was expected and they did so too against the eighth-seeded Villareal. They weren’t able to snatch a win against Leganes — who is expected to be in for relegation — but they drew level against Real Betis and won over Levante.

A key factor for their lacklustre performance is their leaky defence. Alaves have given up 31 goals already this term.

It didn’t help too when the team suffered injuries to their key players. One of their more reliable defenders in Rodrigo Ely had been sidelined for more than a month due to a hamstring complaint despite having a decent season.

With him back in the fold now looking healthy, the Brazilian national vows to do everything he can to pull his team out of the relegation zone.

“We all know La Liga is an extremely tight competition and that there are some very good teams out there, but we can always dream of achieving something big with hard work and sacrifice,” said Ely.

Moreover, Alaves bolstered their depth at the No. 1 spot by securing the services of Roberto on loan. The former West Ham United goalkeeper has made 10 appearances in all competitions including eight in the Premier League and two in the Carabao Cup.

 

History

Los Palanganas have been the better team in their overall matchups against Los Babazorros with eight wins while the latter only won thrice along with four draws.

Alaves are yet to win in their road games against Sevilla since their first trip in 1954. From there on, Alaves lost seven times and drew level once in their last eight visits.

 

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