Selangor - Sevilla preview: Red Giants to give European champions their best

There maybe incentive for MSL leaders Selangor to win, when they play recently-crowned Europa League champions Sevilla

GOALBY    ZULHILMI ZAINAL    Follow on Twitter
Azmi - Pantelidis - Bunyamin - Fahmi
Kunanlan - Veenod - Shukur - Andik
Rangel - Hadi


Diogo - Mode - Israel - Navarro - Moi
Trochowski - Iborra 
- Fernandez

After their 1-0 loss to fellow MSL title contenders JDT on Saturday, Selangor face another hurdle in the form of a two-week break in the league. In a way, they should be relieved that they have a friendly on Monday night, despite their opponents being as tough as they come; recent Europa League champions Sevilla FC of Spain. The friendly match, part of a promotional campaign run by Liga de Fútbol Profesional (LFP), is the second stop for Sevilla in the Southeast Asian region, following their 4-0 trouncing of Indonesia's Pelita Bandung Raya just a few days ago.

The home side will want to bounce back from their Saturday defeat, and they need to do this by giving the European champions a run for their money at their own home. Despite earlier reports that Selangor will also field players from other Malaysian teams, Selangor head coach Mehmet Durakovic remarked during the press conference that he will only be fielding his own players, unless any of them are injured, post-JDT match.

That means the usual suspects will be fielded by the Australian, with Brazilian forward Paulo Rangel leading the attack, Indonesian winger Andik Vermansyah providing the counter attacks down the touch, and former national keeper Farizal Marlias the man between the sticks. However a glaring fault in the Red Giants' season is their forwards, with Rangel failing to find the net during important matches, and their other forwards' failure to find the net at all. Thamil Arasu and Abdul Hadi Yahya have been near impotent throughout the season, whereas Afiq Azmi and former U23 national player Hazwan Bakiri are rarely favoured by Durakovic to start. Maybe the two could prove that they have what it takes to keep their team at the top until the finish line by performing well, if they are featured this Monday.

On Monday, Selangor will also need their twelfth man, their fans who unusually turned up in droves on Saturday. That had probably been decided however, following the administration's indecisiveness in terms of the match ticket. They had at first decided to charge their fans RM20, before changing their mind on Saturday morning to make it free for those who purchased the ticket to the JDT match, before announcing later during that day that it will be free for everyone, after all. Their fans will not be complaining about this, surely, and they are expected to turn up to the Shah Alam in droves.

The visitors however are surely not making the friendly just another free vacation, despite the lack of their first team players who are away with their respective national teams for the World Cup. This was proven by their easy win over Pelita Bandung, and they are going to want to turn in a similar performance against Selangor. They brought along a number of Sevilla Atletico players, their reserve team that play in Spanish football's division three. Another change in the line up could also work in the home side's favour, as defender Coke Moreno, who scored a penalty against the Indonesians, was reported to have left his teammates to join the Spain national team.

Despite Selangor FA's deputy president Mokhtar Ahmad's reported plea during the press conference for Sevilla to take it easy on them, the match could prove to be trickier for the visitors. Selangor need a morale-boosting result going into the long break, and their fans will throng the stadium again. If they win against Sevilla, they will surely take it all the way to the season's finish, and their fans will sing about the night they beat the European champions until the day they die.