Sevilla 2-0 Valencia: 6 Things We Learned
Sevilla lit up rivals Valencia in Europa League play Thursday night, beating their countrymen 2-0 in front of their own fans at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Stephane Mbia opened up the scoring in the 33rd minute with a beautiful flick past the 'keeper, and Carlos Bacca netted the second just a few minutes later. Valencia were able to create a few chances in the match but were outclassed for most of the match.
The second leg will move to the Mestalla next week with the tie far from over, yet Sevilla now have one eye on the final and firmly believe they can lift European silverware this season.
With the two Spanish sides playing a thrilling match, there will be a lot to take away from the game. In this article, we will take a look at six things we learned from the match, so be sure to have your say below in the comment section.
* Club statistics are courtesy of WhoScored.com
Valencia's Defensive Problems Cost Them Again
It was yet again Valencia's defensive frailties that cost them a very important match. Los Che do boast a very well-rounded squad with quality defenders, yet they rarely look organized at the back and continue to make big mistakes.
Valencia were dark horses to finish the La Liga season in the European zone of the table, but that chance has passed. The Spaniards have, to this point, conceded 47 goals in domestic play which just goes to show how badly the club needs to solidify things at the back.
Against Sevilla on Thursday night, it was again silly mistakes that decided the match for Valencia.
The defense failed to pick up anyone at the back post during Sevilla's opening goal, then again allowed Carlos Bacca to run through tons of space to double the lead minutes later.
On paper, Valencia should not be struggling as much as they have been. However, Los Che just have not been able to stand up to clubs with strong attacking lines, and it will likely be their undoing.
Sevilla's Incredible Run of Form Continues
What a run it has been for Sevilla who, with their victory over Valencia, have now won 13 of their last 16 matches in all competitions.
Los Rojiblancos have found their identity under Unai Emery and now have their foot on the gas pedal. Players such as Ivan Rakitic and Carlos Bacca are stepping up in big ways, and their hard work is finally paying off.
Sevilla's incredible run is not a fluke. The Andalusians have managed to defeat not only Porto during their run but also the likes of Real Madrid.
Under the guidance of Emery, everything is coming together. The players are in sync and know their roles within the team while individual talent is shining through as well.
The victory over Valencia was not just a win. Los Rojiblancos completely dominated play and showed that they are much better than European football fans give them credit for. With the team in such a blistering run of form, lifting the Europa League is definitely a possibility.
This Tie Isn't over Yet
A 2-0 loss at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan isn't necessarily a bad result for Valencia. Playing on the road in Sevilla is tough for any team, yet not getting a road goal could prove costly.
Taking into account Sevilla's run of form and overall talent compared to that of Valencia, it would seem as though the tie is nearly decided. Sevilla now have more than a foot in the final and will likely finish their rivals off next week.
However, it would be a big mistake to count Valencia out just yet.
Los Che are very familiar with comebacks and have proven that they can turn ties around at home. After a 3-0 loss on the road to Basel a few weeks ago, Valencia responded with a 5-0 victory at the Mestalla to get to where they are now in the Europa League.
Though it is highly unlikely that Sevilla will fall apart in the second leg, Valencia will put up a fight in front of their own fans.
A Tale of Two Summers
When looking at Valencia and Sevilla, there are a lot of similarities. Both clubs are up to their necks in debt and are forced to sell players every summer. However, the way the two clubs have responded to their problems is vastly different.
Valencia's squad, for instance, looks much different than last year's team. The likes of Adil Rami, Andres Guardado and Roberto Soldado are all gone, and it has affected the team.
The club responded to losing those stars by making very few moves at all. Helder Postiga and Dorlan Pabon were both brought in, yet they have struggled to replace those who left.
Valencia did send several of their players out on loan to free up wages in order to save money, yet by not selling, they have been left without an influx of money to help their situation.
Sevilla, on the other hand, took a more direct route to their problem.
This summer the club watched as Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas, Gary Medel, Geoffrey Kondogbia and other all left on big-money moves. It was difficult to watch so many stars leave, but the influx of money that came in helped the club pay off some debts while also having cash to rebuild their squad.
Sevilla then responded by signing the likes of Kevin Gameiro, Vitolo, Carlos Bacca, Vicente Iborra, Stephane M'bia, Beto and Sebastian Cristoforo just to name a few.
All of these players have made a big impact on the club and have honestly made Sevilla much better than they were last year.
It is easy to see that these two clubs have very opposing views on how to handle their debt issues. Valencia chose to hold on to players through loan and not reinforce their team, while Sevilla were fine letting stars walk and using some of their earnings to stay competitive.
Though both clubs seem happy with their summer decisions, it is quite easy to say that Sevilla's moves paid off more.
* All transfers courtesy of InsideSpanishFootball.com
Sevilla Can Win the Europa League
Sevilla now have one foot in the final, and fans will likely begin to wonder who will stand in their way of European glory. After Benfica's 2-1 win over Juventus, there are still questions about who will advance, but that isn't much of a worry for Sevilla.
If Sevilla do make it to the Europa League final, they will not care who their opponents are. It makes no difference which wall stands in a team's way, all that matters is knocking the wall down.
Due to their incredible run of form, talented squad and a brilliant leader in Unai Emery, Sevilla can absolutely win this year's Europa League title.
Juventus and Benfica are both extremely strong teams and do look stronger than the Spaniards on paper, but nothing is set in stone. Sevilla are playing some of the best football in Europe at the moment, and a final may just bring out their very best.
It is hard to predict who will lift the cup at this point. A case can be made for any of the four teams that are left, but right now there are no favorites. Sevilla have a lot going their way at the moment and could cap off their great season with a nice piece of silverware.
The Europa League Has Major Value
For many football fans, the Champions League is one of the pinnacles of the beautiful game. At the same time, many view the Europa League as an unnecessary tournament that they could do without.
However, for those who follow clubs that compete in the Europa League, it is a very special thing.
There is no way for every promising club to compete in the Champions League due to the current structure, but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't be allowed to showcase their talent across the continent.
Players such as Ivan Rakitic and Bernat absolutely deserve to play for European trophies and shouldn't have to join a bigger club just to have a shot at it. The Champions League is one of the greatest tournaments on the planet, but smaller clubs just do not have the resources to compete with the giants.
The Europa League provides smaller clubs with the chance to compete for European glory on a stage that is more level, and Thursday's matches showed again how great this tournament can be for clubs.
Many will continue to see the Europa League as second rate or even unnecessary, but it still holds an important place in the game, and fans of smaller clubs appreciate it for what it is.
Will Sevilla be in the final? Can Valencia turn the tie around? Who will win this season's Europa League? Leave your thoughts and comments below!