Liverpool are to take on Sevilla in their Champions League opener on Wednesday evening and will be looking for an instant response after a demoralising 5-0 defeat to Manchester City on Saturday.

To get more of an insight into Sevilla’s mood heading into this fixture, we spoke to David Cartlidge (@davidjaca), a well-known Spanish football journalist for beIN SPORTS, FourFourTwo and more.

How happy will Sevilla have been with their start to the season?

I think fairly content, but they’ll be disappointed with their slip-up at home to Espanyol in the opening weekend.

The team is still bedding in with a new coach, and the players themselves are finding their way. Overall it has been a decent start but more positive, encouraging signs would’ve been welcome.

How much has changed about the Sevilla side that beat Liverpool in the 2016 Europa League final?

Plenty! Sevilla are one of those clubs that change regularly. There is a heavy turnover of players fairly regularly, most of the time they’re forced into such situations.

There is a new manager now too, Eduardo Berizzo, as well as players. Just five of the players who started for Sevilla that night in Basel are still at the club. 

READ MORE: Why Liverpool’s loss to Manchester City revealed no grand conclusions

BASEL, SWITZERLAND – Wednesday, May 18, 2016: Sevilla players celebrate winning the UEFA Cup for a third straight time, following a 3-1 victory over Liverpool, during the UEFA Europa League Final at St. Jakob-Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Many are looking upon group E as an ‘easy’ draw for Liverpool. How tough will they find it to finish above Sevilla?

I think even though many things have changed about Sevilla, they still remain a strong team. And the club itself, they are used to success these days in terms of their love affair with the Europa League.

It’s a tough group overall for each side, and with Liverpool being fresh back into the competition after three years away they can’t be naive. Sevilla are still finding their way a bit, and the same can be said for Roma. It’s why Liverpool should finish top really.

Sevilla fielded a strong-looking XI in their 3-0 win over Eibar on Saturday. Do you expect them to field the same XI on Wednesday?

No, because if anything has been certain about Eduardo Berizzo’s early days as coach of the club, then it’s rotation. He’s done so heavily already this season and we can expect a few changes here and there.

He doesn’t seem to be set on a best XI yet and that in a way is troubling.

Do you think that Liverpool are the sort of side that will cause Sevilla problems?

Yes, absolutely, because as tight and compact as Berizzo teams can be – they do leave gaps. With Sevilla still in this state of discovering themselves too, it leaves open opportunities and Liverpool can pounce on any indecision or lack of familiarity. Jürgen Klopp’s style can rattle Sevilla, no doubt.

What is the perception of Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool in Spain?

Energetic, hard working, attacking. There’s a lot of love in Spain for Jürgen Klopp and it’s not a surprise. Spanish fans sometimes crave a little bit of crazy and vibrancy about their football, especially with the game in Spain being a lot slower and more tactically focused.

Liverpool by the way, are easily the most popular team in Spain. Living here for several years in several cities now, it’s very clear to see it.

READ MORE: Why the signing of Naby Keita is the club’s biggest statement of intent in over a decade

Which Sevilla player should Liverpool be most wary of on Wednesday?

I’d say without a doubt, Ever Banega. This team is based around his presence, and when he’s in the mood Sevilla can beat anyone.

The Argentinean midfielder is an exceptional talent who is now on the straight and narrow, and who approaches the game with a lot more maturity. He likes to be on the ball, dictating games from the heart of midfield. His range of passing and vision of the game will need to be kept in check.

Which Liverpool player can you see causing Sevilla the most problems?

While no slouches at the back, Sevilla aren’t particularly quick in the defensive transition. I think the right sort of passes into Sadio Mané and he could be a prominent feature.

MUNICH, GERMANY – Wednesday, August 2, 2017: Liverpool’s Sadio Mane during the Audi Cup 2017 final match between Liverpool FC and Atlético de Madrid’s at the Allianz Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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His ability to shake off the attention of opponents and produce goals on a regular basis will be a major concern for Berizzo. 

Your score prediction?

I am going for Liverpool 1-0 Sevilla. A goal from Mané. I feel after his red card he’ll be especially motivated to make amends.


About The Author

Editorial and Social Content Producer

21-year-old sports journalist that has been published in the Guardian, the Daily Express, the Liverpool Echo and more. Have worked closely with Sky Sports and BT Sport and also appeared on LFCTV and BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat to talk about the mighty Reds!

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