This season has taken us to some exciting places in Europe and some fun corners of the Interwebspherenet. Along the way we've been introduced to the best football team twitter feed and spoken to some good sports from Fear The Wall and VillarrealUSA. And now we have the pleasure to have a chat with Chris from Sevilla FC blog Monchi's Men.
The Liverpool Offside: So, you're not really going to win this thing three times on the trot, right? Right?!
Monchi's Men: I know we can win it. Our coach, Emery (my personal buddy now it seems), somehow figures it out every year despite losing star players every year. On paper Liverpool will be the toughest team we have faced in the finals so far. It's kind of epic that the two most storied Europa league teams are meeting in the finals.
TLO: You got to interview your manager? I'm so jealous. (If you're reading this Jürgen, I don't want an interview, just a hug). Moving on: What has been Sevilla's Secret Sauce to European success over the last decade? Any chance we could have the recipe? Did Alberto Moreno remember to bring it over to Anfield, or did he forget it in the drawer with his grandmother's paella recipe?
MM: This is a tough question and one that is so hard to answer. Each team has been different. I think Sevilla has been lucky to find the right coach at the right time to put the belief of the team, the tactics, and the city into the hearts and minds of each player. The love for the city and the fans seem to make our team fight harder and achieve more than most other European teams. Emery was quoted on UEFA's site recently stating that each team member was required to learn the Sevilla Himno which rivals that of Liverpool's for being the best club anthem in my opinion.
As for Moreno, he was a good player here. He was never a star and I think Liverpool bought him a bit too early to see his full potential. He had only played in the first team for Sevilla for a little over one season. He needed to mature and learn more about the game in my opinion. The guy is only 23 and will continue to get better for you though. If you are through with him, we will gladly trade you his grandmother's recipe for the guy. haha
Know Your Enemies: Sevilla FC
It's been a long season here at KYE, but Sevilla is a great final instalment for those of us who are historically-inclined.
TLO: Sevilla Himno is boss tha, but those are still fighting words. And speaking of recipes, now I've gone and made myself hungry. Can you recommend a spot to eat if we ever make our way to Sevilla for a game?
MM: It is almost lunch time here in the US and I could go for some good Spanish cocido on this cold rainy day in Washington, DC. If you make it to Sevilla, I suggest doing it like the locals. Go to a bar, grab a few tapas and a beer, and hit the next place soon after. Most of my time when I am in the city is spent in the Barrio de Santa Cruz walking the old narrow streets hitting one bar after the other getting my full of gambas al ajllo, croquetas de pollo and cold Cruzcampo.
TLO: Sorry for the tangent, but we pride ourselves on being a food blog first, and a football blog second. Possibly third. Back to the matter at hand: our most recent common link at the club is the aforementioned Alby Moreno. Were you disappointed to see him go, and how well has he improved since coming to Liverpool?
MM: I haven't seen many of Liverpool's games, but I am sure Moreno has improved some since arriving. He was 21 I think when we sold him and with very little first team experience. He will continue to get better. I hope he plays well tomorrow, but I hope he is hitting the podium before our players.
TLO: Liverpool have faced a wide variety of opponents in the knock-out rounds. We've faced a flashy and exciting Dortmund side, and an extremely boring Manchester United side. We've squeaked past a very composed Augsburg side, and managed well against Villarreal's counter-attacking football. What can we expect to see from Sevilla tomorrow night?
MM: You guys have really had a tough way through to the finals. Sevilla on the other hand have had a relatively easy pass through except for the Bilbao matchup in the quarter finals. Sevilla have been a very two-faced team this year. They did not win a single away match in La Liga this year; however, they did manage to beat both Real Madrid and Barcelona at home this year. You will see this Sevilla team play hard and try to keep a good shape at the back, allow you to pass the ball around a bit, and then strike quickly when Liverpool makes a mistake.
TLO: What are some players we need to watch out for, and conversely, what are some weak spots Liverpool will hope to exploit?
MM: The team you will see tomorrow will come with lots of tournament experience. Grzegorz Krychowiak is a beast of a defensive midfielder with a high passing percentage and will disrupt your midfield game and hopefully contain Coutinho. A player you are familiar with from his time at Stoke City, N'Zonzi will help Krycho in the defensive midfield to break up the play and pass out to our magician Ever Banega to get the counter attack going. Our player of the year Kevin Gameiro is super quick and has had a really good scoring record over the last 10 games in Europa. Our weakness right now is depth at the wings and fullback positions. We lost Michael Krohn-Dehli (LW) to injury in the semi-finals and our first choice left fullback Tremoulinas went down last week. If there is a weakness, it's on the left side of the field for sure.
TLO: Magician vs. Magician! How excited are you for this final compared to the last two?
MM: Personally I am super excited for the final. It's the first final where I have close friends that are supporters of the opponent so the trash talking opportunities will be great if we win. It would also solidify not on Sevilla's dominance, but La Liga's dominance in European competitions.
TLO: And finally, what is your prediction?
MM: One of the two teams will lose for the first time in the finals of the UEFA Europa. I'm hoping that team is Liverpool.
TLO: Thanks for sharing your luck, and as is now customary from our end: best of luck, minus the luck bit.
MM: Gracias y buenas suerte.
Thanks again to Chris from Monchi's Men, and be sure to head on over to their site to read the other half of our pre-match Q&A as we answer some of their questions.