Los Nervionenses could be plunged into something of a crisis if they fail to beat their Andalucian neighbors.
This season is shaping up to be one of great disappointment for Sevilla. Los Nervionenses had hoped to play Champions League football this term but were eliminated before the group stages, and their prospects of playing amongst Europe’s elite next season already look slim after a mediocre start domestically. Gregorio Manzano has to rouse his troops to beat Almeria on Saturday.
When Antonio Alvarez was sacked in the wake of the club’s failure to progress in the Champions League, few would have anticipated Sevilla sliding down to 10th in the Primera Division standings with 14 games on the clock. Former Mallorca coach Manzano has been no miracle cure for the Andalucians, who have lost their last three in the league and four of their last five overall.
“I am convinced that this squad is able to get out of its current position and reconnect with the teams at the top of the table,” Manzano told the media earlier this week. “These players can easily put together four consecutive wins, because they have desire and ambition.
“They, and I, will give everything for the name of Sevilla. I think that with the right attitude, we can return to winning ways against Almeria on Saturday, because it is important to realize that teams have ups and downs, and we must be prepared mentally to overcome the adversities that may happen in the game.”
Anything short of three points on Sunday will leave los Nervionenses worryingly off the pace and needing a real surge over the festive period to reignite their Champions League hopes.
Second from bottom of the Primera Division with just one win to their name this season, Almeria’s position is already starting to look extremely bleak. Last weekend they faced fellow strugglers Zaragoza and could only muster a 1-1 draw, which did nothing for the fortunes of either side, who continue to occupy the bottom two spots in the table.
The recent change of coach from Juanma Lillo to Jose Luis Oltra hasn’t had the immediate effect that was desired, though the former Tenerife coach is still doing his best to remain upbeat.
“When you cannot win, it’s important not to lose,” he reasoned after Pablo Piatti’s 78th minute strike had rescued his side from damning home loss against los Manos. “The team is stressed and has heavy responsibility. We are physically depleted.”
Already a three point gap has opened up to the main pack of sides, and though Almeria are difficult to beat, their propensity to draw regularly isn’t going to shift them up the table in an especially prompt manner. Defensively they are far from disastrous, but going forward they have mustered on 10 goals, which is a tally that spells relegation.
Sevilla’s selection problems remain acute, and there has even been doubts voiced over Diego Perotti’s participation in this fixture. Federico Fazio, Aruna Kone, Jesus Navas and Luis Fabiano are all major injury problems, while goalkeeper Javi Varas is missing too.
Hernan Bernardello and Marcelo Silva will play no part due to physical complaints. Both are expected to be absent for a fortnight. Michel, Miguel Nieto and Hernan Pellerano are still sidelined.
Juanma Ortiz is back from a ban, while Acasiete could possibly be ready for this fixture.
For more on Spain click ahead to Goal.com's Spain homepage and join Goal.com USA's Facebook fan page!