There are few teams across Europe right now in better form than Sevilla.
On Thursday night they welcomed Valencia into the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan for an all-Spanish Europa League semi-final, winning 2-0 and placing one foot in the final in Turin in the process.
It was their fifth consecutive win in all competitions, and they have now, somewhat impressively, won 13 of their last 16 matches under the guidance of former Valencia boss Unai Emery.
That run has included a win against Real Madrid, and they will head to Athletic Bilbao’s San Mames stadium on Sunday knowing that three points will draw them level with the Basque side in the fourth and final Champions League qualification spot.
That didn’t seem to be on the players’ minds on Thursday as they swept away Valencia.
The visitors did threaten late on—Beto saved smartly from Jonas and Eduardo Vargas hit the bar—but look unlikely to be lining up in the final in May having failed to register an away goal.
Stephane Mbia, admittedly from an offside position, intelligently flicked home Sevilla’s opener, becoming their 15th different scorer in Europe this season, but it was the second goalscorer, Carlos Bacca, who once again caught the eye.
Signed from Club Brugge for €7 million last summer, the Colombian has emerged as a strong candidate for signing of the season in Spain.
He has scored 14 goals in La Liga, four more in the Europa League and is presumably already under the microscope of bigger European clubs.
If that is the case, it will be a familiar story for the fans of the club who have become accustomed to seeing their best players depart in recent years: Sergio Ramos, Dani Alves, Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo spring to mind.
Carlos Arturo Bacca Ahumada, to name him fully, does have a release clause of €30m, though, so any side that does fancy making a move for him will have to pay a fair amount.
It’s a remarkable thought really when you consider that, per Sid Lowe’s recent Guardian article, Bacca was still working as a bus conductor in his native Colombia back in 2007; in 2014, taking into account Radamel Falcao’s injury, he could be leading his country at a World Cup.
The 27-year-old doesn’t initially look particularly fast, but when he gets going he can move quickly. His strength is impressive as well, and the scoring obviously helps.
There is more to Sevilla than just Bacca's brilliance, though, something which was once again evident in Thursday’s win.
Federico Fazio and Nico Pareja, the two central defenders, were outstanding for the hosts when Los Che tried to attack. Mbia played his part in midfield, and Ivan Rakitic, as ever, was wonderful on the ball and weighted two lovely passes to Bacca during the 90 minutes.
It’s possible that Juventus, who lost 2-1 at Benfica in their first leg, will be waiting for Sevilla in the final at the Italians' own ground.
Daunting would be one word to describe the possibility of facing the runaway Serie A leaders in their own backyard, but you always know you have a chance when you have a goal threat.
Bacca is that goal threat.
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