A win is the only feasible response Sevilla FC can muster after a disappointing showing in the Copa del Rey Final. Tonight's trip to Valencia will represent the Club's last league game outside Seville, as three home fixtures and a derby await. Fifteen points from fifteen is now the aim, and the first chance to win comes against Levante UD
"We've got to leave our soul in every game we have left". Those were the words of Jesús Navas - Sevilla FC's spiritual leader - who over the course of the season has embodied all the Sevilla virtues that are now needed in the final stretch of La Liga competition (virtues that have allowed him to sit on the cusp of every single record a Sevillista can stockpile). In his own way, with the humility he is famous for both on and off the field, Navas has called Sevilla to arms in the wake of the side's Copa del Rey defeat, asking for bravery, pride and for Sevilla Football Club to face up to its critics.
The opportunity to do so comes at the Ciutat de Valencia Stadium tonight against Levante UD, where Sevilla urgently need to refind winning ways. It's the stage Montella's men will have to show a positive mentality and the stage that will host the first of five must-win games that will clear up the Club's trajectory, against an opponent desperate to shore up their place in the Spanish top-flight for good.
Navas put it best: “We need to leave our soul in every match we have left”
Levante UD vs Sevilla FC, in that sense, is nothing other than a chance to wipe the slate clean and to begin in the challenge of picking up fifteen points from a possible fifteen to win. It's not out of the reach of Sevilla side, who until the end of the season (for the first time this year) will have the luxury of focusing solely on league competition. La Liga now represents everything that is to come and will determine how May unravels, with three games in the Sánchez-Pizjuán following tonight's clash in Valencia and a blockbuster Europa League six-pointer with eternal rivals Betis in the Heliópolis.
The mind is what moves the legs and any fatigue lingering from a season of 54 games so far will have to take a back seat the need to pick up three points - something that must be seen as the only feasible response to defeat in the Copa del Rey final. Montella's squad - who could well see rotations from a tried and tested eleven Sevillistas have become used to - will be looking for a furious reaction from a rout at the Wanda. Their first challenge will be to harness their anger and use it to put an end to six league games without a win.
Paco López's Levante UD will be no stepping stone, having only lost one of their last eight league matches (winning five and drawing two). With three consecutive wins at home (Eibar, Las Palmas and Málaga) and an impressive 1-3 win in San Mamés, the Valencia side have all but guaranteed their safety from relegation - now nine points adrift from 18th-placed Deportivo; however, they will be undoubtedly driven by the prospect of guaranteeing another season in the big-time.
Sevilla will need to put an end to Levante's timely run of form
Having hit their run of form at exactly the right moment, the opposition now sit on five home wins for the season (having previously beaten Villarreal and Real Sociedad) with a squad bolstered by three former Sevillistas that the Nervión faithful will remember fondly (Coke, Ivi and Luna). With 32 goals netted - Morales with 7, Bardhi with 6, Ivi with 4, Boateng with 3 and Coke with 2 - Levante will certainly pose their own attacking threat. Moreover, the clean-sheet the side kept when visiting the Sánchez-Pizjuán earlier this season will serve as proof that the Valencians are capable of keeping Sevilla out. The Nervionenses will have to be alert to a possible slip-up.
Sevilla have a favourable record when playing away at Levante and will have to add to it to regain lost ground
Nevertheless, the statistics still paint a promising picture for a Sevilla side that in eleven visits to Levante, have won five, drawn three and lost just three. A 2015 1-2 win (with goals from Gameiro and Reyes) is the bare minimum expectation to follow this time, when the prospect of dropping more domestic points is unacceptable to any Sevillista. Leaving Sevillista souls out on the field should no doubt be the starting point - as Navas has rightly pointed out - but the end result has to be a win.