Los Nervionenses welcome los Colchoneros, commanding a positive new outlook after changing their coach...Success On The Horizon?
Much has changed over the course of the last seven days for Sevilla, who have sacked Antonio Alvarez, appointed in his stead Gregorio Manzano and got back in the race for Europa League qualification by defeating Borussia Dortmund 1-0 away from home.
The catalyst for all these events was a somewhat embarrassing 2-0 defeat away to newly promoted Hercules in La Primera Division, the first loss los Rojiblancos had suffered all season in the competition. Alvarez’s job may have been lost on the back of this disappointing result, but in truth it was his failure to overcome Braga to reach the Champions League that hastened his departure.
Manzano had long been linked with the top coaching post at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, and it seems that his arrival will have an instant impact, with Frederic Kanoute claiming that the newly appointed trainer has already spurred the somewhat misfiring squad on.
“There has been little time since his arrival, but the players are already motivated to show that we are in a different dynamic,” the Malian hitman explained. “When something goes wrong at a big club like Sevilla I suppose there needs to be a change, but it is never our wish. When you get a new coach you want stability, and to continue as long as possible. Hopefully this happens with Manzano.”
After Luca Cigarini scored the only goal of los Nervionenses’ clash with BVB in midweek, all stakeholders in the Andalusian club hope the honeymoon can continue on Sunday.
Last term Atletico Madrid’s cup exploits seemed to cost them a little in the league, yet this season this trend has been flipped, with los Colchoneros starting strongly in La Primera Division but not going so smoothly in the Europa League.
Quique Sanchez Flores’ side are up to fifth in the Primera Division, right in the mix with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia, having won three of their opening five fixtures. Meanwhile, the defence of their European crown has been anything but reassuring as they have gained only one point from two group matches, having to come from behind to steal a point against Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday.
“In the first half we did not compete,” Flores lamented of the midweek performance. “The team has to take credit for turning the match around. If we want to be super competitive we cannot lack any details and we must improve.”
Domestically there are those who believe that los Rojiblancos have the ability to last the pace until the final weeks of the season. Pep Guardiola, the Barcelona coach, indicated after his side had won 2-1 at the Vicente Calderon that he could envisage a title charge from the capital’s red and white club, and having bounced back from that set-back with a draw in Valencia and a win over Zaragoza, there are signs that the old unpredictable Atleti are gone.
Los Nervionenses have yet to release any details on their squad status following their European exploits, but they had virtually a complete panel of players to travel to Germany in midweek. Sergio Sanchez continues to work at his fitness after almost a whole year out due to a heart problem.
Sergio Aguero will certainly miss this fixture, according to reports. Diego Godin will continue to miss out with a knee problem and Jose Antonio Reyes is banned, but otherwise los Colchoneros should be at full strength.