Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui was full of praise for Antonio Conte and his ability to seamlessly implement his style upon teams, following his side’s 1-1 draw against Tottenham on Saturday.
Lopetegui won the only competitive match between the two coaches – Sevilla’s 3-2 triumph over Inter in the 2020 Europa League final – but they had to share the result this time, with Ivan Rakitic equalising after Harry Kane’s opener in Suwon.
Sevilla had the majority of possession over the opening 45 minutes, but their best chance came in transition, with Rafa Mir ruining a one-on-one opportunity with Hugo Lloris.
To reinforce their lack of penetration with the ball, Kane scored after Rodrigo Bentancur won the ball high up the pitch in the 50th minute, before substitute Rakitic rifled home from the top of the penalty area 14 minutes later.
For his side’s first game of the pre-season, though, Lopetegui was ultimately content his side could restrict Spurs while revealing his admiration for Conte, believing he can transmit his identity to every team he coaches.
He said post-match:
“They tend to take the initiative, and at this moment, we have minimised a great team.
“They’ve had their moments, but we’ve had an excellent first game. I am a great admirer of Conte; he has the stamp that he transfers to all his teams and has all my admiration and respect.
“They are one of the best teams in England and the world, and at times we surpassed them. We have finished with six footballers from the bench and have played a good game.
“I don’t value the result, but we have tried to put what we are training on the field into action, and the boys have done a good job. We have done a good week of work optimising defensive and offensive aspects.”
After achieving their LaLiga points record in 2020-21, Sevilla plateaued last season, finishing 16 points off eventual title winners Real Madrid and last-16 exits in the Copa del Rey and Europa League.
Lopetegui’s side secured Champions League football for the second consecutive year, finishing fourth in LaLiga ahead of Real Betis’s archrivals.
Coming off the bench, Rakitic echoed his coach’s sentiments.
But added that his goal would allow him to approach training with less pressure.
“There was a desire to compete and play against a spectacular team. I think we did a great job. But, to begin with, the truth is that we are very happy,” he told Sevilla FC TV post-match.
“The truth is very happy. I think it is important for us to start adding good minutes. It was an intense game with a lot of rhythms. With a goal like this, you work even more comfortably for the days to come.”
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