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The Spanish side have recovered immensely from the loss of several pivotal players last summer but this could be their best chance to win a European competition for some time


ANALYSIS

By Peter McVitie

Unai Emery is a coach accustomed to turmoil and great change.

The 42-year-old spent four years at Valencia dealing with severe financial troubles which saw him lose key players such as World Cup winners Carlos Marchena, Raul Albiol, David Villa, David Silva and Juan Mata. Despite the loss of so many pivotal players each year, Emery successfully guided the team from the east to third place in La Liga in each of his last three seasons.

And it seems the former Real Sociedad midfielder is set to go through similar issues with his current club Sevilla. Things have been going well since he took over at the helm of the Liga side in January 2013. He lifted his team from 12th to a ninth-placed finish, earning a place in the Europa League thanks to Malaga's ban and Rayo Vallecano's lack of a licence.

The success looked short-lived, sadly. Jesus Navas, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Alvaro Negredo, Gary Medel, Emir Spahic and Andres Palop all departed after successful spells with los Rojiblancos as the club raised an incredible sum through the sale of their stars.

It seemed a tough campaign was ahead for the Andalusian side, but Emery was able to replace those stars with players at great value as the likes of Carlos Bacca, Kevin Gameiro, Vicente Iborra, Vitolo, Diogo Figueiras and Jairo have helped them recover from the loss of huge personalities, as have loan additions Marko Marin, Nicolas Pareja, Daniel Carrico and Stephane Mbia.

The new recruits have slotted seamlessly into Emery's system alongside key figures Ivan Rakitic, Coke, Federico Fazio, Fernando Navarro and Alberto Moreno. The whole team seem comfortable, well-drilled and committed to performing for the coach.

Through his careful and intelligent transfer strategy, Emery has been able to build on last season's excellent turnaround, crafting another dynamic and vigorous team with great potential. As well as maintaining their fight for a Champions League spot, they have a chance of reaching the Europa League semi-finals as they head into Thursday's second-leg at home to Porto, trailing just 1-0 from the first meeting.


                Turnaround | Sevilla have come a long way under Emery despite losing many key players

March's La Liga Coach of the Month is confident his side can overturn the deficit with such a strong squad and the excellent form they are in. They have won all but two of their last seven games, including a 2-1 victory over Real Madrid, and lost only three of their last 14.

Overall it has been an exciting and prosperous year for los Nervionenses but the progress under the excellent tactician could be halted at the end of the campaign.

Bacca, Rakitic, Moreno and Fazio are being linked to moves away this summer, while others could follow. Furthermore, Pareja, Carrico, Marin and Mbia will leave as their loan spells come to an end.

With such influential players leaning towards the exit, it could prove even more difficult for Sevilla to replace their stars this summer than it was last year, especially with those of a similar quality, and a thinning squad will make it tough to juggle European football along with the Spanish top flight.

Emery is the first coach to take Sevilla to these stages of European competition since Juande Ramos steered them to victory twice in a row in 2005-06 and 2006-07. But this could be one of their last chances to go this far in the tournament again.

If there is any coach who has shown he can make good out of the situation, it is most definitely Emery, but it is extremely difficult to remain competitive in a tough league when dealing with constant turnover of such excellent players.

For Emery and his Sevilla team, this could be their last chance to achieve such a wonderful accomplishment.

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