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Emery-inspired Sevilla well set for Barca visit

15Sevilla coach Unai Emery is one of the more eccentric characters in La Liga but the Andalusian club’s success this season suggests there is plenty of method in the Basque-born 43-year-old’s apparent madness.

 Prowling the touchline during games, Emery’s frantic arm gestures, wild eyes and bellowed commands clearly inspire his players rather than distract them.

Sevilla are fifth in La Liga ahead of the visit of leaders Barcelona on Saturday.

“Since he arrived there has been a clear upwards trend,” midfielder Vicente Iborra said of Emery, who joined Sevilla in Jannuary 2013, on the club’s radio station on Wednesday.

“Those who know him know that he lives for football and for his club, with all the responsibility that brings.

“And the important thing is that it rubs off on us. Having a coach and training staff like that is to be valued, it’s not easy and we have to, and will, make the most of it.”

After a run of five straight victories they are well placed to secure at least a berth in the Europa League, the competition they won last season and are still alive in this term.

They may even pip Atletico Madrid and Valencia to a Champions League berth.

Barca lead on 74 points with eight games left, with Real Madrid, who play at Eibar on Saturday, second on 70 and Atletico, who are away at Malaga, third on 65.

Valencia and Sevilla each have 61 points in fourth and fifth, although Valencia have played one game fewer and have an away match at Athletic Bilbao later on Thursday before hosting city rivals Levante on Monday.

Barca, Real and Atletico all play on Saturday as they are in Champions League action next week.

Barca play their quarter-final, first leg at Paris St Germain on Wednesday and Atletico host Real in a repeat of last season’s final the previous day.
Sevilla play their Europa League quarter-final, first leg at home to Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday.

At the other end of the La Liga table, Almeria host Granada in an all-Andalusian relegation battle on Saturday, before fellow strugglers Cordoba and Elche meet on Sunday.

Cordoba avoided equalling the La Liga record for the most consecutive defeats of 11 thanks to Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Deportivo La Coruna but remain five points adrift of Granada at the bottom and appear doomed for the drop.