Those were handled back when UEFA drew for the semi-finals of the Europa League which made Sevilla the official ‘away’ side against Liverpool in Basel, in the annual clash to find the best mediocre/underperforming side in Europe.
UEFA will be rubbing their Swiss hands with glee this year as the eighth-best team in England takes on the seventh-finest in Spain.
Sevilla’s goose could well have been cooked already, though, what with Liverpool’s Spanish opponents set to take residence in the visitors’ dressing room on Wednesday night. That has been a particularly unlucky scenario for a team that has had a lethargic season outside of Seville, to say the least.
Unai Emery’s men have failed to win a single away game in 18 attempts in La Liga this season, and racked up just one victory in eight matches in both the Champions League and Europa League outside of Iberia.
However, the more positive spin is that their relentlessly fine record in the final of this competition – that’s two wins in a row – might counteract the away-day curse and see a successful penalty shootout.
The Europa League is like a “second partner, a second wife or second girlfriend” to Sevilla fans, Emery claimed (apparently mistaking his team’s support for French politicians), adding that his players “do not fail at big moments”.
It’s just the rest of the season’s games then, where his footballers shrugged and spent 90 minutes resentfully digging holes into the pitch with their boots.
That scenario pretty much resembled Spain’s last World Cup campaign, and Vicente del Bosque has picked a provisional squad for this summer's European Championship, a tournament La Roja are looking to win for a third time in a row.
Some big decisions were made up front by the mustachioed one and met with differing levels of enthusiasm across the land. The choice to all but give up on the Diego Costa experiment was met with happy smiles, as the Brazil-born trouble magnet was a little brutal for most tastes.
There was sympathy for Juan Mata who was also left out, and a few frowns that Fernando Torres was rejected too considering the second-half-of-the-season impact the Atlético Madrid man has had at club level. The situation may arise that the player who scores the winning goal in the Champions League final is left behind.
However, it seems that Aritz Aduriz has bagged the ‘ageing No.9, just two weeks from retirement and looking for one last adventure’ spot after a season in which the Athletic Bilbao striker has fired in 20 league goals.
Del Bosque will be hoping that a little of La Liga’s stardust in European competitions this season – which sees Spanish teams contributing three of the four major finalists – rubs off on his squad.
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