Ivan Rakitic: “We loved him much more than they did” | Sports

Seven times champion of the Europa League to swell a list of fifteen titles, Sevilla have missed six continental Super Cups, the last four were close. In 2015, 2016 and 2020 they fell in overtime against Barça, Madrid and Bayern, almost nothing. In 2023 he let her pass before the best team today, City. This time UEFA took pity on the actors, still filming, and suppressed the extension. Everything was defined in a penalty shootout that hung by a thread. City’s fifth shot was touched by Bono and into the net, Gudelj’s reply crashing off the crossbar. More than ever it was a matter of centimeters for Sevilla that triggered the Moroccan’s tears, which the market can take away from Pizjuán. “There is no one who loves him more than us. Whatever he decides, he will always have the Sevilla family with him”, summed up Rakitic.

M. City


Ederson Moraes, Manuel Akanji, Walker, Gvardiol, Aké, Foden, Rodrigo, Kovacic, Erling Braut Haaland, Cole Palmer (Julián Álvarez, min. 85) and Grealish



Bono, Marcos Acuña, Jesús Navas (Montiel, min. 83), Loic Bade, Gudelj, Óliver Torres (Juanlu Sanchez, min. 74), Lucas Ocampos, Joan Jordán, Rakitic, Lamela (Suso, min. 93) and En- Nesyri (Rafa Mir, min. 92)

goals 0-1 min. 24: En-Nesyri. 1-1 min. 62: Cole Palmer.

Referee Francois Letexier

Yellow cards Loic Bade (min. 33), Lamela (min. 61) and Juanlu Sanchez (min. 89)

“We did a lot of things well. It’s a shame not to take the Cup home. They celebrate normally and we would have burned the stadium. We loved him much more than they did”, concluded the Croatian. “We had our chances against the best team in the world. We deserved to win,” Jordán summed up. “We had to do our best and then we would see the result. If the team believes and fights, it is a very good team and we have to cultivate it”, pointed out the Catalan midfielder.

Sevilla recovered their best version, the one that Mendilibar gave them after a dark time with Sampaoli. Between blackboards looking for space and superiority, the Zaldibar technician writes a script that seems so simple and sophisticated. Perhaps to understand it you have to go back to the origins of a coach who as a footballer played eight seasons at Sestao. At the end of the eighties that combo was close to making the leap to the First Division with an ideology that encouraged pressure on the ball holder, something that was hardly in style then. Mendilibar was not, by far, among the most dedicated. He was a starter because he had plenty of class and he embraced a style that he has been able to update: since he took the bench at Aurrerá in 2001, he has never gone an entire season without training. And now it is exhibited on the big stages.

Mendilibar is not fooling anyone. His teams refer in many aspects to that Sestao: recovery, ball to the sides and search for auctioneers. “Crosses are underestimated”, explains the coach, who returned to the sources last Saturday after falling in the league debut against Valencia: “We have played little taking crosses and we cannot be confused: we are a team that plays taking crosses”. In Athens, just after the first hydration break, Acuña hit a monumental one that En-Nesyri noisily headed into the net.

En-Nesyri was measured in the last World Cup with a connected header at 2.78 meters high. Or what is the same, if he wanted to he could hit the crossbar with his jaw. Before the little candy that Acuña sent him, he hung up on Aké and Gvardiol, which is not a minor matter either. Mendilibar likes forwards like En-Nesyri, surely because he is as simple and direct as he is: he finishes off crosses and goes into space with luxury. And also he squeezes the rival’s ball out. Tell Guardiola that he had a couple of scares at the start of the game when the Sevilla players launched themselves like tigers after Akanji, who played the role of reinforcing the midfield when City moved the ball. The coach of the 36 titles in the elite had to adjust the output of the ball on the fly.

En-Nesyri was able to leave the exam with honors, but his grade was lowered because he did not round off the work of unchecking and galloping with which he generated up to four heads-up with goalkeeper Ederson. Perhaps there he missed being nurtured from the side. Mendilibar noticed it and it is seen that they took note in the most eclectic City. The equalizer came with a cross from Rodri that Palmer headed in at the far post. And the clearest options in the final siege came from balls into the area. Until the penalties, more hazardous than ever, decided and En-Nesyri left head down to ruminate the misfortune of him sitting on the bench.

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