From 2005 to 2007, Sevilla went through the most successful period in their history, winning the UEFA Cup twice in a row. In this period, they also won the Copa del Rey, the Spanish Super Cup, and the European Super Cup. Despite the fall of manager Juande Ramos after leaving the club, he was considered one of Europe’s up-and-coming managers with his success at Sevilla.
The tactics behind this Sevilla side were far from complicated. They played in a rather basic 4-4-2 formation, a formation which has just now started to make a comeback with the success of Atletico Madrid. While the 4-3-3 and especially the 4-2-3-1 formations have seen success in the past decade, Sevilla proved that the classic 4-4-2 could still compete at the top level. They played with attacking full-backs, one true defensive midfielder, and one striker dropping deeper into space to link up play.
Much of Sevilla’s success can be owed to the good signings made during this time period. Two of their main strikers, Luis Fabiano and Frederic Kanoute, were signed after disappointing at Porto and Tottenham respectively. Fabiano only scored two goals in 22 league appearances for FC Porto in the 2004-2005 season and Porto were happy to recoup the money they spent on the forward. Fabiano went on to score 72 goals in 149 league appearances for the club. Kanoute fared better at Tottenham Hotspur, scoring 15 league goals in 60 appearances. Even though he did not score that many goals for Spurs, he filled in as a good striking partner alongside Jermain Defoe. Dani Alves – who is expected to depart Barcelona this summer – was signed on the cheap, and in his time at Sevilla, he became one of the best right-backs in the world, showing exceptional talent going forward. Lastly, Enzo Maresca was signed from Juventus as a box-to-box midfielder. While Jose Luis Marti sat deep in midfield as a defensive shield, Enzo Maresca had the freedom to go forward.
Sevilla also benefited from two quick wingers out wide, Antonio Puerta and Jesus Navas. Navas has always provided the Spanish national team with a different outlet – superb speed, capable of direct football by running at the left-back and crossing the ball in. Both wingers emerged from Sevilla’s youth team, and while Navas has gone on to have a very good career, Puerta passed away due to a heart attack in 2007 at the age of 22. Puerta could also play left-back and left wing-back, showing his versatility. He scored the penalty which won Sevilla the UEFA Cup in 2007, months before his death. When Puerta did not play, Adriano played on the left-hand side. Since then, Adriano has moved to Barcelona where he has played left-back, but his attacking qualities have always shown. He is good with both feet, and certainly can provide enough attacking impetus going forward whilst helping his side defensively.
The side’s finest moments certainly came in the UEFA Cup. They won the trophy with a 4-0 win over Middlesbrough in 2006, with Fabiano, Maresca, and Kanoute all scoring goals. In 2007, they defended the trophy by winning on penalties after drawing 2-2 with Espanyol. Under Unai Emery, Sevilla have achieved success, winning the Europa League on penalties last season. They are fighting for a Champions League spot this season in La Liga, and are one of the favorites to win the Europa League this season. Despite this success, they will find it difficult to better the side from 2005 to 2007.
Sevilla (4-4-2): Palop, Dani Alves, Javi Navarro, Escude, Castedo, Navas, Marti, Maresca, Adriano/Puerta, Kanoute/Saviola, Luis Fabiano.
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