Commentary

Sevilla demonstrates (again) Spanish soccer's standard is very good

Sevilla is European soccer's great overachiever. With a team of no-name players, it won its third straight Europa League title and will keep Spain's record intact of sweeping UEFA's two competitions in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Sevilla finished only seventh in La Liga but followed up on wins over Benfica in 2014 and Dnipro in 2015 with a 3-1 comeback win over Liverpool on Wednesday to give it five titles in the last 13 years in the competition formerly known as the UEFA Cup.

Now for the big question: could you name before today any of the Sevilla players?

Probably the best known player is Kevin Gameiro, who scored the tying goal seconds after the resumption of play in the second half. He finished the season with 28 goals in all competitions but is only on standby for France's Euro 2016 team.

Midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak, who was developed in France, will be a key player for Poland at Euro 2016.

But only one Sevilla player made the Spain short list for Euro 2016 and he didn't even start on Wednesday -- Sergio Rico, who started La Liga matches but gave way to David Soria in the Europa League.

Liverpool fans, who dominated the crowd of 35,000 at Basel's St. Jakob Park, had a beef with the officiating in the first half when the Reds should have had penalty calls on fouls by Daniel Carrico and Krychowiak, but Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp was not surprised by the outcome.

"Maybe the crowd was shocked about the situation,'' Klopp said afterward of Gameiro's tying goal. ''It's not a shock. I saw it, I tried to change it. Sevilla took the game. We have 44 minutes to strike back so where is the problem? The reaction was the problem.''

Before the game, Klopp praised Spanish clubs for having better scouting, coaches and player development than those in the other major European leagues.

That is certainly true of Sevilla, which has had to replace stars like Colombian Carlos Bacca, Croatian Ivan Rakitic, Spaniard Jesus Navas and Chilean Gary Medel in recent years.

"Maybe, it's not for us to say it, others should analyze," Unai Emery, the coach on all three Sevilla Europa League championship teams, responded to Klopp's remarks. "I have my own theory. Perhaps, the standard of Spanish football is very good. But is has also been proved that Spanish teams compete passionately. They are able to reach highest levels of European soccer and we have been able to win against teams better than us."

For the second year in a row, Sevilla's title means it will begin next season in the Champions League. It moved down to the Europa League after finishing third in its group and beat Molde (with American Ethan Horvath in goal), Basel, Athletic Bilbao and Shakhtar Donetsk en route to the final.

"The Europa League has given us a lot," Emery said. "At Sevilla, we love this competition. It is our competition, and we have underlined that once and again. The Champions League is an opportunity to improve, but the reality is this competition is growing."

13 comments about "Sevilla demonstrates (again) Spanish soccer's standard is very good".
  1. Lawrence Kedger, May 18, 2016 at 10:58 p.m.

    Yes I can name Jose Antonio Reyes ex Gunner
    From 2004-2007.

  2. David V, May 18, 2016 at 11:48 p.m.

    Mostly you can't name them because mostly you only know English football...

  3. David V, May 18, 2016 at 11:51 p.m.

    Lawrence makes my point... he knows of him because he knows of an England affiliation

  4. jose cornejo, May 19, 2016 at 10:22 a.m.

    no-name Ever Banega, ex Boca Jrs, Newells, over 40 caps for Argentina; ran the show in midfield, if he is a no-name player, can Mr. Kennedy name some real players? REALLY???????????????/

  5. Vince Leone replied, May 19, 2016 at 11:16 p.m.

    I was going to say the same thing about Banega. If you have never seen him, you need to widen your horizons--especially if you write for Soccer America.

  6. Charles O'Cain, May 19, 2016 at 11:53 a.m.

    So the 7th place La Liga team beats the 8th place EPL team. This proves what? That Liverpool have for the most part underachieved for the past 25-30 years. And they've had to find replacements for a few as well (anyone remember that guy who bites people and scores a few goals on the side?).

  7. I w Nowozeniuk, May 19, 2016 at 11:54 a.m.

    Some shoddy officiating...what are the ARs doing?

  8. Vince Leone, May 19, 2016 at 11:22 p.m.

    Regarding the uncalled hand balls: The Fox announcers mentioned the non-calls repeatedly but never recalled that in the 2nd leg of the Liverpool/Villarreal semifinal with the score 1-1 on aggregate, Liverpool was not called for an even more clear and blatant handball in the box. Had that been called, Liverpool might not have even made it to the final.

  9. Vince Leone, May 20, 2016 at 12:57 a.m.

    Paul's "big question" assumes that most readers don't watch La Liga. Maybe that's true, but I suspect I'm far from the only one who watches Spanish matches on BeIN Sports.

  10. I w Nowozeniuk, May 20, 2016 at 10:57 a.m.

    For now La Liga rules in quality.

  11. Charles O'Cain replied, May 20, 2016 at 10:29 p.m.

    Please elaborate rather than simply offering an assertion. If La Liga is so enthralling, why is there the need to threaten teams who don't fill their stadiums? Obviously those who know them best are voting with their feet. Or can the Spanish not recognize "quality"?

  12. I w Nowozeniuk, May 21, 2016 at 12:22 p.m.

    So what's you point Charles? There are many reasons why stadiums are not filled.

  13. Charles O'Cain, May 21, 2016 at 3:12 p.m.

    Point is that neither a #7 La Liga victory over #8 EPL nor your simple assertion that "La Liga rules" is defensible evidence of superior "quality" in comparison to other European leagues, top to bottom. Obviously it's an opinion I don't share. La Liga has a few of the best teams and best players, but not exactly the most entertainment value week in, week out. Empty stadiums result. Even with good weather in their favor.

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