After recent friendlies against Southend United and Gibraltar United, the Royals face their toughest test of pre-season so far against Europa League side Sevilla. This is the second friendly of the Spanish tour and the Reading squad will be looking to avoid picking up injuries ahead of another busy week in Spain after this fixture. However, the Royals will need to put in a good performance if they’re going to compete with the former Europa League winners.
Where? Estadio Municipal Felipe del Valle Stadium
When? Saturday 13th July (9pm KO local time)
Two losses in their last five La Liga matches proved costly for Sevilla as they finished just outside the top four. This was an average season for the Spanish club, who won the Europa League three times consecutively between 2014 and 2016. All of these Europa League titles came under current Arsenal manager Unai Emery.
Current captain Jesus Navas is a familiar name to English football fans. The winger played for Manchester City between before rejoining Sevilla. Another that will be particularly well-known to Reading fans is Daniel Carrico. The Portuguese man has found success out in Spain since his underwhelming spell at the Madejski Stadium during the Royals’ last Premier League season.
Reading will need to turn draws in to wins if they are to improve on their league position in the next campaign. A promising performance against Birmingham City on the final day of the season with a young side provided a lot of hope for the future. The front three of Josh Barrett, Danny Loader and Michael Olise that started that day could be a sign of things to come.
As I sit here writing this article on Wednesday night, the Royals are yet to make any signings in this transfer window. Many of the youngsters are likely to get a chance to impress against a top European side in front of manager Jose Gomes, who is continuing to shape his squad ahead of the upcoming season. Young defender Akinwale Odimayo could make an appearance for the side this Saturday.
Recent pre-season results: 2-0 win vs Southend United, 10-0 win vs Gibraltar United
- Sevilla were only two points off Champions League qualification last season, finishing level on points with 5th placed side Getafe. A tough test for the Royals on Saturday.
- The side from Seville also scored 14 more goals than Getafe last season, whilst conceding 12 more goals than the 5th placed side. The Royals could expose this defensive instability this weekend.
- Out of the 23 players that played against Southend United last Saturday, 16 came from the Royals academy.
- Reading have only lost 7 out of their 23 league games under Jose Gomes. That’s under one third of those games.
Likely Reading lineup: Walker, Blackett, Moore, McIntyre, Watson, Rinomhota, Swift, Barrow, Loader, Meite, Novakovich
Reading will need to field a reasonably strong side if they are to compete with the Spanish first division side. Novakovich has the potential to become the first choice striker for the Royals if he makes a good impression on Jose Gomes in pre-season.
This game will be a very beneficial game for Andy Rinomhota, who will look to control the midfield against a very tough opposition. There’s no doubt he’ll be one of the key players going in to next side, setting an example to the other young academy players, who will inevitably form part of the Royals’ squad depth. Danny Loader could start just in behind Novakovich as a number 10.
Score Prediction: Sevilla 2 – 0 Reading
This fixture will be the biggest test that the Royals have faced so far this pre-season. Even though our younger players provide a lot of optimism for the upcoming season, I can’t see anything but a defeat for the English side in this tie.
I do think the pair of Moore and McIntyre can put up a fight against Sevilla’s front line. However, they are unlikely to play the full 90 minutes. The opposition are in the Europa League for a reason and are not far off the Champions League either.
I predict a respectable 2-0 loss, with Sevilla’s defence remaining solid against a lower mid-table Championship side like Reading.
Upcoming friendly fixtures:
Tuesday 16th July: Malaga B (Spain Tour)
Tuesday 16th July: Extremedura UD (Spain Tour)
Saturday 20th July: Lincoln City (Spain Tour)
Saturday 20th July: Granada CF (Spain Tour)
Wednesday 24th July: Peterborough United (Madejski Stadium)
Saturday 27th July: Chelsea (Madejski Stadium)