Sevilla return with their heads held high

Beyond results, it is a pleasure to watch Sevilla go toe-to-toe with Europe’s heavyweights on nights like Thursday. In Budapest in the UEFA Super Cup, Julen Lopetegui’s side took Bayern Munich to extra time having had the game by the throat when Youssef En-Nesyri broke free in the 88th minute. The Sevilla forward only failed to score because this incredible Bayern side also has a keeper who is in a league of his own. Having earned the extra 30 minutes, Sevilla finally fell to a ridiculous corner that our very own Javi Martínez, a 99th minute substitute, turned in. Still, after their performance in Budapest, the old adage about honour in defeat rings truer than ever because Lopetegui’s side asked serious questions of a team that has become accustomed to flattening their opponents.

It was furthermore Sevilla’s first game after a short summer break. And it fell to the Spanish side to face as a first exam of the season Bayern’s scorching attack with balls aimed directly at Robert Lewandoski, the born-again Thomas Müller popping up all over the attacking third, the devilish mobility of Leroy Sané and Leon Goretzka’s innate talent, all of it pushed forward by a hammering piston consisting of the rest of the side. Having taken the lead from the penalty spot, Sevilla were put through the ringer until half time, doing well to hang on and only concede once as the red machine surged forward moving the ball around with such speed, elegance and an eye firmly on the back of Bono’s net.

Sevilla asked questions of all-conquering Bayern

In the second half Sevilla grew into the game, to the point that they had Bayern wondering what was going on. The treble-winners had not expected this. Óliver Torres gave a masterclass in poise and control and En-Nesyri constituted a constant threat because the way the game opened up it was clear that with his speed if he was presented with the right ball he would be through one-on-one with Manuel Neuer. The rest of Lopetegui’s side worked tirelessly and calmly, particularly the evergreen Jesús Navas and Lucas Ocampos, an Argentinean midfielder as German in style as any you will find. And En-Nesyri’s chance did arrive but Neuer won the duel. Extra time went Bayern’s way and while it was by no means unfair on Sevilla, losing this final did not dim Sevilla’s light but only served to further enhance the Liga side’s European prestige.