Thursday 13th April. By Edward Stratmann.
In his post-match comments following Sevilla's much needed 4-2 win over Deportivo La Coruna, Los Nervionenses manager, Jorge Sampaoli, was absolutely delighted with his team's splendid attacking showing that propelled them to their first win in six league matches.
"We have had the feeling of being a team with vertigo as we attack all the time and this is a lot of fun for the future," he gleamed.
"Speed in attack is our strategy, I wish we could repeat today's performance every single week but we now have to transform our 61 points into more if we are to qualify for the Champions League."
One man who was unquestionably integral in injecting speed and dynamism into Sevilla's offensive forays was their Argentinian sensation, Joaquin Correa. Having signed from Sampdoria in the summer for €10 million, it wasn't easy in the beginning for the wildly gifted attacker to force his way into the team, but his patience and persistence has paid off handsomely in the last couple of months. By producing a string of encouraging performances of late, his trajectory has finally now taken a distinctively upward pattern. Indeed, his promising form has been an undoubted highlight during Sevilla's unfortunate downturn in results, as he's admirably started to stamp his mark within Sampaoli's tactically sophisticated outfit during this rough patch.
Now given far greater opportunities by his Argentine coach, Correa's impressively racked up seven goals and three assists in just 1220 minutes of action in all competitions, as he's emphatically repaying Sampaoli's faith in him.
Although capable of playing as a winger, a number 10 or even upfront, he's looked most dangerous out on the left flank, which is where he played so brilliantly vs Deportivo on the weekend.
It took less than a minute for him to have an impact from this post vs Pepe Mel's men. Here, after embarking on an astutely timed run in behind, he latched onto the ball, before holding it up adeptly by using some crafty feints and dribbles. Then, upon noticing Steven N'Zonzi bursting into the 18-yard-box, Correa played one of his customary slick, disguised look away passes into the feet of the Frenchman, who then slid the ball across for Stevan Joveti? to score.
In this passage, he parlayed so many of his endearing traits, with his purposeful off the ball movement, his notable mesmerising ball handling qualities and his keen eye for a pass being most evident.
Another aspect that makes him so effective in this role is that he can obtain possession out wide or in the left half space and immediately cut inside onto his right foot to use his scintillating dribbling and pace to drive straight at his opponent, with an eye to then shoot or set up a teammate. Being so accomplished in 1v1 situations often saw his direct opponent, firstly Juanfran and later Laure, back off and track him cautiously, as they were unwilling to wholly commit and risk getting skinned by Correa's trickery. Usually this only succeeded in giving him more time and freedom to assess his options, though.
When inheriting the ball in the half space, especially, he was able to do great damage, for he could still receive in a relatively central area with a great view of the field, but importantly away from the highly congested central areas. Moreover, his intuitive movement to identify and utilise unoccupied pockets of space served as a testament to his footballing IQ in such instances.
A key byproduct of his slightly infield occupation was that it manufactured plenty of space for his fullback, Sergio Escudero, to motor into and provide width in advanced areas.
His brilliantly executed glancing headed goal on 34 minutes acted as a fine reward for his strong efforts, in a match where he also deserved credit for undertaking his defensive responsibilities in a robust and determined fashion.
In a performance full of skill, creativity and imagination, Correa was justifiably pleased that he was able to keep up his splendid form and help his team secure victory. "I am very happy, every time playing a little more, but I always repeat that the most important thing is to help the team and, above all, to win, which is what we work for every day at this club," he explained.
"The first thing is to contribute to the work of the team and to obtain victories. It's always important to score to gain confidence. It is something for an attacker to score to be happy with oneself, but, I insist this is only important as long as Sevilla wins."
With rumours circulating around the future of his manager, Correa also made his feelings felt on the issue by strongly backing his staunch tactician, saying: "Sampaoli is stronger than ever. We see him very motivated. He is tremendously committed to us, the players, and also with this club. Hopefully, we can all continue together. It is what we expect. We have to look forward because there are nice challenges in La Liga for us."
Having already progressed so encouragingly working under the expert tutelage of Sampaoli and his extraordinarily knowledgeable assistant in Juan Manuel Lillo, it's obvious why Correa wants the same regime to remain.
Despite things not initially going to plan for him at Los Blanquirrojos, the way he's worked his way into the first-team and is flourishing in such a conjucive environment for player progression speaks volumes for his determination and undeniable quality.
In Correa, Sevilla certainly look like they have a star in the making.
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Joaquin Correa is a star in the making at Sevilla
Thursday 13th April. By Edward Stratmann.