For the decade between 1995 and 2005, La Liga was won by five different teams with none of them winning it on more than four occasions.
Only once (1998 and 1999) did a team, Barcelona, win back-to-back titles, although the Catalans did win in 2006 after triumphing in 2005.
Since then Barca and their arch-rivals Real Madrid have won 14 of the 15 titles available, Atletico Madrid taking the other. This has led to La Liga, rightly or wrongly, being labelled as a two-horse race, a stick with which to beat Spain’s top flight. Similar tactics are used by Premier League diehards when dismissing the rest of Europe’s top five leagues.
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But this season? This season something remarkable is happening.
Right now La Liga is by some way the most competitive of Europe’s big five. The top four are separated by just three points. For reference this is how that looks across Europe.
LeagueGap between 1st and 4thGap between 4th and 5thGap between 1st and 2nd
Premier League19310
La Liga3202
Serie A 1339
Bundesliga1517
Ligue 16111
Whilst Bayern are marching to another Bundesliga title, albeit with a fair few stumbles along the way, and Manchester City are dominating English football once more, the same cannot be said of the rest of Europe. The most captivating viewing comes in Spain and it’s hard not to be enamoured with the team from Seville.
Sevilla have one league title to their name in their history, all the way back in 1946, but there is every chance that they could finally end their drought.
They’ve almost come from nowhere. For so much of the season the focus was on Atletico and then the resurgence of the previous floundering Clasico rivals. Sevilla had a slow start, they won only two of their first six league matches, while Atletico raced out of the blocks. They then had a catastrophic February, getting knocked out of the Champions League and Copa del Rey, as Barca and Real began to find form.

Lucas Ocampos of Sevilla FC celebrates scoring a goal with Diego Carlos Santos during the La Liga Santander match between Sevilla FC and Granada CF at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on April 25, 2021 in Seville, Spain

Image credit: Getty Images

But they are a resilient bunch. Following this weekend’s come from behind win against Granada they have won seven of their last eight and five in a row; they haven’t lost a match since the start of March.
In a title race such as this one, which is expected to go down to the wire, timing is everything, and right now Sevilla are timing it to perfection. The wins have been impressive too. They beat Atletico 1-0 at home, they beat sixth-placed Real Betis in their local derby, and they also came from behind to beat Real Sociedad at Anoeta.
A month ago Spanish publication AS produced a guide for fans. A list of the remaining fixtures for the teams in the title race. Sevilla were not included. If any more guides are being made this morning you can be sure they will be there.
Of course, it is difficult to discuss Sevilla without talking about Monchi, the bearded wizard behind the club’s rise to the top.
Monchi’s philosophy has been well-documented. The series he did on Sevilla’s YouTube during lockdown, explaining his process, is a fascinating insight into the way he works. The idea is abundantly simple: scout smarter to find bargains in the market that put you ahead of the rest.

Ramon "Monchi" Rodriguez Verdejo, Sports Director of Sevilla, and Jose Maria del Nido, Vice President of Sevilla, are seen during the training session of Sevilla FC at Ciudad Deportiva Jose Ramon Cisneros Palacios on February 20, 2021 in Sevilla, Spain

Image credit: Getty Images

The Sevilla squad is littered with examples of this. Someone like Lucas Ocampos has been reborn in Spain whilst Joan Jordan, a relative snip at €14 million, has been a revelation. Elder statesmen such as Jesus Navas and Fernando have shown that they’ve got more than enough in the tank.
It’s not all about counting pennies on the dollar either. Sevilla spent around €25 million on both Jules Kounde and Youssef En-Nesyri, arguably their best two players. This summer they will make a handsome profit on both and could even double their outlay.
According to Jorge Ordas of Eurosport Spain, En-Nesyri is a great example of the genius of Monchi.
“They [Sevilla] have no star player and [Julen] Lopetegui is a very good coach but he's not decisive,” Ordas explains.
“The main star is Monchi, who finds amazing and very cheap players. Year by year Sevilla has sold very good players but the new and young players were equal to or even better than the former ones.
“En-Nesyri was not a player who attracted attention at Leganes (they were relegated last season and he played with Martin Braithwaite (who is now at FC Barcelona) but it's a good example for what Monchi does.
He finds top players where nobody else is looking.
“It's said that he has already signed the 'new' En-Nesyri from Almeria in the form of Nigerian forward Umar Sadiq (not official yet just reports).”

Sevilla's Moroccan forward Yousef En-Nesry celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Levante and Sevilla at the Ciutat de Valencia stadium in Valencia on April 21, 2021.

Image credit: Getty Images

The reason that En-Nesyri needs replacing is that he is being linked with a host of European clubs, including Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham, Liverpool and Juventus. It is classic Monchi, sign a player that a big team wouldn’t look twice at, build them up and sell for big profit. He is the ultimate middle man.
Ordas thinks there’s a lot to like about En-Nesyri but heeded caution about any potential signing saying “he could be a very interesting player for Premier League, strong, fast with a lot of resources...
“On the other hand, it's very difficult to predict the result of La Liga striker in England. We have a lot of examples of players that did it very good here and they didn't find their place in Premier League.”

Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo “Monchi”, Sporting Director of FC Sevilla looks on ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E stage match between FC Sevilla and Chelsea FC at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on December 02, 2020 in Seville, Spain

Image credit: Getty Images

En-Nesyri is Sevilla’s top scorer but he is a bit of a patchy player. He has six goals in his last nine matches but went over ten matches without a goal before that. If he hits a purple patch could Sevilla actually win the title?
“WIth five games to the end, everything could happen,” Ordas says.
“Atletico are in a freefall and Real could be thinking more about the Champions League semi-final (Sevilla still have to play against Real in Madrid) so they are in a very, very positive moment, they have not pressure as they are not favourites so, why not?”
Why not indeed. Stranger things have happened after all. As the fallout of the European Super League (you knew we had to mention it) continues it is beautifully poignant to talk about a team outside of the founding 12 who could win the league title of one of the elite leagues. That they are even in the conversation is a timely reminder of the absurdity of the Super League. Money is not the answer to everything - long may Sevilla continue to prove that.
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