“Delaney – No, Dolberg – No. We have never played as badly as this season as long as I have been a fan of Sevilla FC. And I have been since I was 8 years old. The team lacks skilled players like Poulsen. But I will always have my club in my heart – no matter how many matches we win or lose”. Laura, a faithful and loyal member of one of Sevilla FC’s fan groups – “Peña Sevillista Tito Poulsen” – accurately expresses her views on the Spanish club’s current performances, both in LaLiga and the Champions League, when I meet her outside the stadium a few hours before kick-off between Real Club Deportivo Mallorca and Sevilla Fútbol Club in LaLiga – one of the world’s best football leagues. The friendly, middle-aged woman is a huge fan of Christian Poulsen, who played for Sevilla FC for two seasons more than 15 years ago. Christian Poulsen, who is today an assistant national coach and achieved 92 international matches, won the Europa League and Copa del Rey with Sevilla FC. On the other hand, Laura does not believe that the two current Danish national team players – Thomas Delaney and Kasper Dolberg – are of great benefit to her club. Sevilla FC’s new head coach Jorge Sampaoli, who has been national coach for Argentina, apparently also finds it difficult to spot Delaney and Dolberg’s qualities, as neither of them gets a single minute on the pitch in Sevilla FC’s 0-1 away win on a nice long shot by Serbian international player Nemanja Gudelj.
Sevilla FC – Big club in crisis
Founded in 1890, Sevilla FC has been represented in Spain’s best football tier for a total of 78 seasons and only 13 seasons in the second tier since the first national championship was held in the 1928-1929 season. The club’s only national championship goes all the way back to the 1945-1946 season, but especially in the last two decades, Sevilla FC has achieved impressive results, both nationally and internationally. In the last 20 seasons, the club has always been placed in the top-10 in LaLiga and twice (2006-2007 and 2009-2010) the club has won the Spanish cup – Copa del Rey. In addition, Sevilla FC have won the UEFA Europa League 6 times in just 17 seasons, which is unmatched by any other European club. Currently, Sevilla FC occupies a distinguished position as No. 17 on UEFA’s official club ranking – ahead of clubs such as F.C. Porto, S.L. Benfica, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur F.C.
Sevilla FC’s away win against a very defensive Mallorca team was only their second win of the season in 9 games, placing the club in a modest 13th place in LaLiga. The team has particular difficulty in creating scoring chances and profiles such as Ivan Rakitic, Papu Gomez, Isco and Erik Lamela seem far from the strength of yesterday. The club’s results in this season’s Champions League have been very poor, i.a. two big defeats (0-4 and 1-4) at home against Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund. If Sevilla FC fails to conquer 3rd place in the group – ahead of FC Copenhagen – it will undoubtedly be one of the club’s biggest international failures.
RCD Mallorca – Golden period followed by sporting and financial decline
RCD Mallorca, which was founded in 1916, does not have the same results and status, either in Spanish or international football, as Sevilla FC. The club achieved the best sporting results in the late 1990s and the beginning of the new millennium, when the club was No. 3 in La Liga in both 1998-1999 and 2000-2001 and won the Spanish Cup – Copa del Rey – in season 2002-2003. Among the team’s biggest profiles was Samuel Eto’o from Cameroon, who subsequently became one of the world’s best strikers for FC Barcelona, Inter FC and Chelsea FC. The Serbian international player Jovan Stankovic and Miguel Angel Nadal – uncle of the tennis player Rafael Nadal – were important players for RCD Mallorca in that period.
In the past 15 years, RCD Mallorca has had a particularly turbulent period, both sportingly and financially. Both players and head coaches have been replaced after a few months, among them Michael Laudrup who in 2010-2011 managed a single season as head coach for the club.
In the 2012-2013 season, the club was relegated to the second-best tier and at the start of 2016, due to financial problems, the club was very close to relegation to the third-best tier. However, the club was saved at the finish line, with American investors buying the majority of the shares for 20 million euros. It was only in the 2019-2020 season that the club returned after 6 seasons in the second best tier. Last season RCD Mallorca was also very close to relegation and this season the club has unfortunately maintained a very defensive style of play. For that reason, it is usually about avoiding losing – instead of trying to win.
LaLiga – Huge difference between top and bottom teams, both sporting and financial
LaLiga has been among the world’s best football leagues for decades, but always with a big difference between the 20 clubs. Real Madrid FC with 35 and FC Barcelona with 26 national championships have been by far the most dominant clubs who have also dominated European club football. Since the UEFA Champions League was established in the early 1990s, Real Madrid FC has won the title 8 times, while FC Barcelona has won the biggest club trophy 5 times. By comparison, no other European club, either from England, Germany or Italy, has won the UEFA Champions League more than 3 times.
Today, LaLiga is the sixth largest professional sports league in terms of financial revenue, surpassed only by the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball League (NBA), Premier League (PL) and National Hockey League (NHL). The reason is, that the matches in LaLiga are televised directly to many Spanish-speaking countries in Central and South America. However, it is also no secret that many Spanish football clubs are often in financial trouble due to crazy transfers and player salaries. It is estimated that FC Barcelona today has a total debt of more than 1,5 billion euro and that the big club has been “forced” to sell their TV rights to avoid bankruptcy.
Not a single word about Delaney, Dolberg and FC Copenhagen
On the way out of the stadium, I meet Laura again, who spontaneously exclaims: “Gudelj – Si. Poulsen – Si. On Tuesday, the match against Valencia FC at home at Estadio Ramôn Sánchez-Pizjuán must be a win. And then I’m going to the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu next Sunday. Real Madrid FC are a very strong team, but I will always have Sevilla FC in my heart”. She does not mention Dolberg, Delaney and FCK with a single word before we say goodbye.
You can get further information on the following websites:
Sevilla FC – https://sevillafc.es/en
RCD Mallorca – https://www.rcdmallorca.es/en
LaLiga – https://www.laliga.com/en-ES