Montella views win at Atletico as turning point for Sevilla

January 18, 2018

FILE - In this Nov. 26, 2017 file photo, of the then AC Milan coach Vincenzo Montella gives instructions to his players during the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Torino at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy. Vincenzo Montella now the Sevilla coach is positive Sevilla got the win it needed to turn its fate around in the Spanish league. The newly arrived Italian coach said the 2-1 come-from-behind victory at Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals will allow Sevilla to get back on track and end its slump in the league. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, file)

MADRID (AP) — Vincenzo Montella is certain Sevilla has picked up the victory it needed to turn its fate around in the Spanish league.

The coach said the 2-1 come-from-behind win at Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals on Wednesday will help Sevilla get back on track and end its league slump.

Montella, an Italian hired during the winter break, is desperate for his team to end a five-game winless streak that has dropped the club to sixth place, outside of qualifying for the Champions League.

“It was a very important victory, against one of the best teams in Europe,” Montella said ahead of Saturday’s game at Espanyol. “It should be seen as a beginning, as a good step toward reaching our goals. It should give us the confidence to achieve something important.”

Sevilla made a great start in the league, winning four of its first five games and reaching second place, but the team struggled and coach Eduardo Berizzo was fired. It is 22 points behind leader Barcelona. It is three points behind fourth-place Real Madrid, which occupies the last Champions League spot.

Montella made a tough start. He led the club to two victories over second-division club Cadiz in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey but Sevilla lost twice in the league, against struggling Alaves and to city rival Real Betis.

“I’m happy with how the team reacted. We knew it was going to be a difficult match, in a very difficult environment,” Montella said after the win against Atletico. “We had to take more risks. It’s what we want going forward.

“To have confidence you need to have conviction in certain aspects and I believe that, little by little, the team is getting there,” he added.

The 43-year-old Montella joined Sevilla after being fired by AC Milan last year following a poor run of six wins in 14 Serie A matches, despite the club spending more than 200 million euros (nearly $245 million) on new players in the offseason.

“When a new coach arrives everybody has to adapt,” he said. “There are new concepts.”

Sevilla became the first Spanish club to win at Atletico’s new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

The second leg is at the Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium next week.

Also, Sevilla faces Manchester United in the last 16 of the Champions League next month.

“This victory boosts the team’s morale after we endured a difficult moment,” Correa said. “We will have the fans behind us and it will be important to advance. We deserve it after the recent struggles.


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