The Insight: Sevilla still in danger of late La Liga survival scrap

 | February 28 | 

5 mins read

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The last time Sevilla were in the Spanish second-tier, the Suez Canal was still closed, Jaws hadn’t been released on film, and Diego Maradona was yet to make his professional debut. But, just under 50 years since the Andalusian club gained promotion to La Liga in May 1975, Los Nervionenses are in danger of being sunk.

Sevilla are currently 15th on 24 points after 26 games played, but are only six points ahead of 18th-placed Cadiz, who occupy the third relegation spot. Things were actually a lot more bleak by the end of Gameweek 21 last month, when a 5-1 defeat to Girona left them 17th and just one point above the drop zone.

A four-game unbeaten run which included victories over Rayo Vallecano and Atletico Madrid has given them hope though, and despite a late 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid on Sunday, Sevilla can be proud of the brave resistance they put up against the league leaders.

They will certainly need that fight for the remaining 12 games of the season, as they look to avoid the most embarrassing of relegations across Europe’s top divisions.

Sevilla 2023-24 Betting Odds:

  • Sevilla To Be Relegated @ 25/1
  • Sevilla To Beat Real Sociedad (02/03/24) @ 8/5
  • Sevilla To Beat Almeria (11/03/24) @ 6/4

A battle to avoid the drop would have been considered unthinkable to many observers at the start of the season. A few months earlier, Sevilla had beaten Roma on penalties to lift their sixth Europa League trophy and subsequently qualify for the Champions League group stage. However, the warning signs were there in La Liga, as they finished 12th, just nine points ahead of relegated Real Valladolid. Only five clubs conceded more than their total of 55, and three of them were consigned to La Liga 2.

And so, just like the previous campaign, when they won just two of their opening 15 league matches, Sevilla started at a snail’s pace. In fact, they went two better (or worse) by recording two victories in their first 17 games in La Liga, and crashed out of Europe after finishing bottom of their Champions League group with a paltry two points. 

Their form led to the October sacking of Jose Luis Mendilibar, the head coach who masterminded their Europa League success last term and inspired a turnaround in their league form. His successor, Diego Alonso, didn’t last long as he failed to win any of his eight league matches in charge before being replaced by the current manager, Quique Sanchez Flores.

It’s a move which appears to have paid dividends so far, with Sevilla winning more league games (three) under Flores than they had under the previous two combined. It hasn’t been plain-sailing though, with the Andalusians following up a debut 3-0 victory over Granada with four straight defeats in La Liga. But the aforementioned three points gained against Vallecano and Atletico earlier this month have brightened the picture somewhat.

Sevilla to be relegated from 2023-24 La Liga at 25-1

There are three more fixtures for Sevilla to tackle before the March international break, and the outcome of those three encounters could be make-or-break for the club in their bid to avoid an end-of-season survival showdown.

First up on Saturday afternoon is a home game against Real Sociedad, a side 16 points above them and one gunning for European football. Then, a trip to basement boys Almeria - who have only lost once in their last six at the Power Horse Stadium, holding the likes of Betis, Girona, Athletic Club and Atletico to draws - awaits. Finally, they host Rafael Benitez’s Celta Vigo, who are just three points below them in 17th, at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. 

On paper, considering two are at home and two are against clubs below them in the table, it looks like a favourable fixture list, but with the context provided, Sevilla could be up against it. With Mallorca and Celta Vigo each playing one of the bottom-two sides before the break, there is a real danger of them arriving at Getafe on March 30 one place above the drop zone.

An area of the pitch that has looked much improved recently, at least on the face of it, is in defence. After shipping five at Girona on January 21, Sevilla have conceded just three times in five La Liga outings, keeping clean sheets against Atletico and Valencia. But does that tell the full story? Their opponents recorded a higher xG in each of those five games according to fbref, with Sevilla’s xG of zero in their goalless draw at Valencia a particularly harrowing statistic. They’ve only recorded a higher xG than their opponent in six La Liga matches this season, and only once under Flores.

Across the whole campaign, they are 18th for xG (26.5), and only five clubs have a poorer xGA (37.7), which has contributed to an xGD/90 of 0.43, putting them 17th in La Liga. This shows a consistent level of impotence across the whole campaign, with Flores - despite overseeing improved results - failing to instigate a real change in the quality produced at either end of the pitch.

Sevilla to beat Real Sociedad at 8-5

One thing Sevilla haven’t been shy about doing this season though, is shooting. Only Real Madrid (16.12) and Barcelona (15.96) average more shots per 90 than the Rojiblancos (13.38), but converting them into goals has been a problem, as evidenced in the xG stats above and their goals per shot number of 0.08 (only four clubs are lower in this metric).

However, compared to their relegation rivals, Sevilla certainly have the individual quality to convert low percentage chances. Youssef En-Nesyri has outperformed his individual xG of 5.4 to strike seven times in La Liga, while more will be expected from the likes of Erik Lamela, Suso and Lucas Ocampos in the final furlongs of the campaign.

Ultimately, Sevilla should have just enough to fend off relegation. Almeria and Granada, with just three wins between them - all for the latter - look sure-fire candidates for the drop, with just one more club to join them in their descent. Sevilla just need to be slightly better than Cadiz, who are already six points behind them, while Celta Vigo, Mallorca and Vallecano are still in the mix to go down. It won’t be pretty, but surely Flores and his charges can see things through and avoid one of the most high-profile relegations in recent memory.

Sevilla to beat Almeria at 6-4

Check out the rest of our Football Betting Tips here.

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