The latest recipient of the Dorsal de Leyenda del Sevilla FC – special recognition for services to the club – and current director of the Antonio Puerta Football School, Antonio Álvarez, has discussed the form of the first team on SFC Radio.
Álvarez believes that elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Leicester City is a difficult set back for Jorge Sampaoli’s side to recover from and that, more than a physical deficiency, the defeat showed a mental fragility that must be eradicated with ten league games remaining this season.
“Football is easy and at the time is complicated. Everyone thought that Sevilla were going to go through… Sevilla had been dominant overall, but Leicester remained in the tie. As much as we want to dress it up or move on from it, the players were not mentally right in the game.
“If Sevilla had won, it would have been another story. We would not be talking about a team on burn out. Footballers depend on results and mentally this is very important now… When the results were good everyone was full of praise.
“Now it seems as though everything is black. I want to put out a message of optimism. A ten-game league has started and in this league on ten games Sevilla are third. I believe that that is the best we could hope for, in terms of what Sevilla are capable of. There is now a break for the side to get away from this bad run of results and to come back in the mindframe that there is a ten-game league left this season. I think Sevilla will return to the form they showed earlier in the season,” he added.
“All teams go through a bad spell,” Álvarez assured, “and moreso for teams that have been involved in a number of competitions. They train little and play a lot: If you win games then it means that everyone is happy… The physical level is the most important thing. The level of work that you get through in the First Division means that you cannot hide.
“I am not extreme. When Sevilla were playing well I had to enjoy it, but I did feel that at some point the side might experience a blip. This blip has come at a bad time for us but again I repeat, there is a league of ten games and Sevilla sit third in it.
“As Aragonés said,” he reminded, “The Liga only really hots up with ten games to go. The challenge for Sevilla was to qualify for the Champions League again. We’ve got to stay calm, keep our feet on the ground and maintain an atmosphere that does not make the players feel nervous.
“Things have got to be analysed and, above all, to be calm, see the work the the squad has put in in 20-odd games, keep the season as a whole in mind and have faith in this team.”