It’s been just three years since Sevilla lifted the Europa League trophy in front of an awed crowd in Cologne.

From big wins against Roma and United to a breath-taking match against Inter, Sevilla clinched their sixth Europa League title, and their first in four years.

For a while, between 2019 and 2022, Sevilla looked like a challenger to the ‘big three’ of LaLiga: Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid. The Palanganas often finished fourth.

Not only did this clinch a Champions League spot. Sevilla threatened the traditional Spanish soccer hierarchy.

Sevilla was just as adept in the boardroom as they were on the field. The Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium churned out talent after talent. Some was great, Pablo Sarabia, Wissam Ben Yedder and more recently Jules Koundé. Some was less impressive despite strong stints. For instance, Vitolo, Steven Nzonzi and Clement Lenglet.

Year after year, Sevilla forged more and more competitive teams with bigger and bigger signings. That was, until, it all went bust.

Nearing the halfway point of the La Liga season, Sevilla has just eleven points in 14 games. That’s good for just two wins and seven total losses, putting them at a dismal 18th.

Unlike the stories of Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers FC with many gradually depressing seasons, the Sevilla downfall has been harsh.

Offseason business

You can probably link Sevilla’s inadequacy with their laid-back approach to the summer 2022 transfer window.

Sevilla bid adieu to Jules Koundé in its most lucrative transfer of all time. Also selling Diego Carlos and Lucas Ocampos, among other recognizable names.

To replace the reliable center-back pairing of Kounde and Carlos, Sevilla turned to former Bayern defender Tanguy Nianzou and Marcao. The Spanish side acquired those two for around $30 million, combined.

Then, Sevilla replaced three players from last season, Ocampos, Munir El Haddadi and Anthony Martial, with three players. Sevilla signed Isco, Kasper Dolberg and Adnan Januzaj.

Not exactly the best return.

Although any club will welcome a profit of $67.4 million from transfers, no one wants to do it by losing some key players. Although transferring out Kounde, Carlos, and Ocampos for big bucks is understandable, their replacements have proved to be mediocre at best.

Nianzou has been average, and Marcao has played in just seven games due to a multiple injuries. Dolberg, Januzaj, and Isco have combined for zero goals this season. Isco, with two assists on this season, reportedly left Sevilla after a row with Sevilla sporting director Monchi.

Sevilla had to sell their players now rather than let them walk for free later. But, they definitely could have found better replacements after they sold them. It would come back to nip them in the bud when the season started.

Chaos on and off the field

Sevilla’s season started with a bang; a bad one. Sevilla lost several winnable games in the beginning of the season.

Sevilla lost to both newly promoted Almeria and midtable Osasuna, 2-1. Despite a 3-2 win over Espanyol, Sevilla entered another winless drought.

Saddled with Champions League games and a tough schedule, Sevilla would go winless for an entire month. Julen Lopetegui, the overseer of Sevilla’s rise to prominence, paid the price with his job. The breaking point was a grim 4-1 loss to Dortmund that put its Champions League dreams in major jeopardy.

New manager Jorge Sampaoli has only been slightly better. Sampaoli salvaged qualification to the Europa League with a 3-0 win over FC Kobenhaven; the club’s only win in the competition. Yet, it has only gotten worse. Aside from a close 1-0 win over Mallorca in October, Sevilla remains in the midst of a downfall in LaLiga.

Answering the downfall of Sevilla

Sevilla needs more than a bigger bank and better results. It needs an overhaul in the tactical department. Sampaoli is in his second stint as Sevilla manager. He is more famous for leading Chile to its first Copa America title.

Sampaoli is a prudent coach. He likes to control the tempo of the match by keeping possession and attacking only when the time is right.

In all of the teams under his guise, there has been some degree of experimentation with the squad’s formation.

It’s the same with Sevilla, as Sampaoli bounced between a 4-2-3-1, a 5-4-1 and more. But one element stays the same; the team’s possession rates.

All of Sevilla’s wins with Sampaoli have come when Sevilla had a possession over 55%. It’s why teams like Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, and Manchester City have wreaked Sevilla; they prevented them from having time on the ball.

That, and a conservative defense that minimize risks and does not lunge into tackles, leads to lots of low-quality opportunities.

Sampaoli’s measured approach has made Sevilla fourth in attempted passes and fifth in completed passes. Most of Sevilla’s offense comes from rebounds off of shots, which would be expected considering Sevilla average around 12 shots per game.

Sampaoli has also made his team very slow and patient. Sevilla played the fourth-most passes in its own defensive third, had the seventh-most touches in LaLiga.

Sevilla’s slow, careful approach has made it into one of the worst offenses in the league, although it may be expected when you have out-of-form players like Isco, Erik Lamela, Rafa Mir, and Oliver Torres leading the attack.

What Sevilla needs

Sevilla can hit the ground running with a slate of winnable winter games to get out of the relegation zone. They first play Celta Vigo, 17th.

Then, Sevilla takes on Getafe, Girona, Cadiz and Elche. Those teams are all No. 13 in the current table or worse. In fact, Cadiz and Elche are the only two teams beneath Sevilla in the table.

The club are keeping me informed as to what is going to happen and I hope it’s as soon as possible. We need a left back, a left centre back, a midfielder and a forward who can give us strength. I’m not getting distracted by things I can’t resolve myself.

Jorge Sampaoli, from Sevilla FC

Sampaoli has already gotten to business. Sevilla have reportedly signed Rennes center-back and France U21 international Loïc Badé to provide cover in the defense, and with lots of salary room to work around with, Sevilla could definitely sniff around the Premier League and Ligue 1 in search for more promising players.

Sevilla can respond from this rapid downfall. Sampaoli and Los Nervionenses will try to make a big comeback to avoid total embarrassment and a potential financial collapse.