“I hope that after this victory we can save ourselves comfortably with Mendi. Renew it? Well, if he wins the Europa League…”. These words by Monchi, Sevilla’s sports director, were made before a group of journalists on Holy Monday, three days after Mendilibar made his debut on the Andalusian team’s bench with a vital victory in LaLiga against Cadiz (0-2) on past April one. Monchi, like all Sevillism, spoke of winning the Europa League as a true chimera, with a team on the verge of the Second Division. Since then, however, Mendilibar’s Sevilla had a wonderful month of April, which continued in another May where, when no one expected it, they managed to win their seventh Europa League after eliminating Manchester United, Juventus and defeating Jose Mourinho’s Roma in the final. What has happened so that in two months a team that was fighting for relegation has won a title? Beyond the undoubted mystique that Sevilla has with this competition, you have to look for football reasons.
The first, and perhaps the main one, was outlined by Mendilibar after the conclusion of the final. “The key is that Sevilla have very good players. The problem was that emotionally they were not well. We have worked on this aspect, the mental one, so that they give everything they have inside. After the first two games, in which I didn’t really know how they were going to respond to me, I always played the games with the mentality that we could win them. They are good players”, explained the Basque coach. At the party after winning the title, Mendi was blanketed by the players, who in unison called for the coach’s renewal.
It should be remembered that in the Sevilla squad, for example, there are three players who were world champions in Qatar, the case of Acuna, Montiel and Papu Gomez. In addition, its goalkeeper, Bono, was one of the heroes of the World Cup with the Moroccan team. In Qatar, En-Nesyri also stood out in that team, who with 18 goals is now Sevilla’s top scorer. Jesus Navas, also a world champion, or Rakitic, whose good form and an excellent end to the season have also contributed to the team’s success. Mendilibar knew how to connect with them to get their best performance.
One of the serious problems that Sevilla had this season was that neither Julen Lopetegui, with an exhausted method, nor Jorge Sampaoli, who never connected with the squad, did not get the right performance from a group of underused players. The squad undoubtedly has shortcomings, but not enough to suffer as Sevilla has done this season. “What Mendilibar led to is the rebellion of the players in the face of the situation, he encouraged them to show their quality and relied on veterans like Jesus Navas, Fernando and Rakitic,” confirmed reliable sources. Along with the heavyweights of the squad, talented elements such as Suso, Lamela or even Oliver Torres were once again competitive.
Another aspect that contributed to Sevilla’s improvement, in addition to the liberalizing aspect that the Europa League always has in this team, was Monchi’s success in the winter market. After very weak planning in the summer, where players like Isco, Dolberg or Januzaj were fired in the winter market, Monchi was once again Monchi. Without spending a euro on transfers, four basic players in the performance of champion Sevilla arrived at Sevilla, especially Bade, Ocampos and Bryan Gil. Bade has been a discovery in defense, marked by Marcao’s long-term injury and the doubts offered by Nianzou. Bade has combined perfectly with Gudelj, one of the pillars of the team, to be decisive in this stage.
The case of Ocampos is very unique. Loaned to Ajax in a bizarre operation, he went from living in a hotel and training with the Dutch team’s subsidiary to being a mainstay in this final stretch of the season. He was one of those who celebrated the title the most after going through a very bad first round personally. At the party he was the real protagonist. Meanwhile, Bryan Gil has a way to be decisive. However, Mendilibar, who knew him, knew how to get the right performance out of him to be crucial in some games in this Europa League, such as in the two duels against Juventus in the semifinals, where he was at a high level. Finally, Gueye, who was not registered in the European competition, refreshed the team in the League and allowed veteran players (like Fernando) to rest, who were quite physically punished.
Another important issue in the proper functioning of Sevilla has been its physical appearance. Mentally liberated by the good work of their coach, the team has arrived like a shot playing Wednesday and Saturday. The club’s technicians want to be fair in this case. The team could not move in the first part of the season, with Lopetegui on the bench. The preseason was rare in a course marked by the dispute of the World Cup in Qatar. It was Sampaoli and his team that designed a winter preseason that has paid off when the team needed it most. Although his performance was weak in terms of results, Sampaoli is credited with having raised the physique of his team.
On Monday, at the end of the League, there will be a first contact between Mendilibar’s agent and Sevilla. Everything points to a renewal of the Basque, which will logically require an economic improvement after having only arrived for two months. The coach released a squad with good benefits with a success that nobody could expect.
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Source: EL PAIS