Jose Luis Mendilibar will officially begin life as Sevilla head coach on Saturday evening, with Los Nervionenses facing a trip to fellow La Liga strugglers Cadiz.
The visitors are currently 14th in the table, level on points with 15th-placed Cadiz, with both teams only two points clear of the relegation zone heading into the next set of fixtures in Spain’s top flight.
Cadiz are in their third straight campaign at this level of football, which is their best run in Spain’s top flight since the early 1990s, so it is a successful period in the club’s history.
The Yellow Submarine only just survived relegation last season, finishing 17th, one point ahead of the bottom three, and they are involved in another scrap at this stage of the 2022-23 campaign.
A total of 28 points from 26 matches has left Cadiz in 15th position in the table, just two points clear of 18th-placed Valencia, who are level on points with Almeria in 19th.
It is very difficult to imagine Elche escaping the bottom three this season, having only picked up 13 points from 26 matches, but the fact that the team in 19th is just three points behind 13th-placed Getafe is an indication of how quickly things could change.
Sergio Gonzalez’s side, who have the third-worst home record in the division this term, have actually drawn each of their last three in the league against Real Sociedad, Getafe and Almeria, while they are unbeaten in Spain’s top flight since losing 2-0 at Barcelona on February 19.
Sevilla, meanwhile, suffered a 2-0 defeat to Getafe before the international break, with the result marking the end of Jorge Sampaoli’s second spell as head coach of the club.
Sampaoli was only appointed last October, and Sevilla are in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, but their disappointing La Liga campaign led to a change being made.
Mendilibar has managed the likes of Eibar, Athletic Bilbao, Real Valladolid, Osasuna, Levante and Alaves during a long career, so it would be fair to say that he is experienced when it comes to Spain’s top flight.
The 62-year-old has been tasked with moving Sevilla away from the relegation zone, with a poor season leaving the team in 14th spot in the table, just two points ahead of the bottom three.
Los Nervionenses have finished fourth in each of their last three top-flight campaigns but will have to win the Europa League in order to secure a Champions League spot for next term.
Sevilla have actually won four of their last five La Liga games against Cadiz, including a 1-0 victory in the reverse fixture between the two sides at Estadio Ramon back in January.
Cadiz will be without the services of a number of first-team players this weekend through a mixture of injury and suspension, but Fali is available again after a ban.
Jeremias Ledesma and Iza Carcelen remain unavailable due to suspensions, while Ruben Alcaraz, Brian Ocampo, Juan Cala, Jon Ander Garrido and Joseba Zaldua are on the sidelines due to fitness issues.
Roger and Sergi Guardiola are again expected to play as the front two for Cadiz, with Alvaro Negredo and Anthony Lozano set to start on the bench.
As for Sevilla, Fernando is available again following a suspension, but Erik Lamela, Karim Rekik, Alejandro Gomez and Marcao will miss the match through injury.
New head coach Mendilibar will make changes from the side that started against Getafe before the international break, with Ivan Rakitic, Gonzalo Montiel, Suso and Youssef En-Nesyri all expected to come into the XI.
Tanguy Nianzou could also regain his spot in the middle of the defence, with the youngster potentially coming into a back four this weekend.
Cadiz possible starting lineup:
Gil; Parra, Hernandez, Fali, Espino; Bongonda, Fede, Escalante, Sobrino; Guardiola, Roger
Sevilla possible starting lineup:
Bounou; Montiel, Bade, Nianzou, Acuna; Rakitic, Jordan, Gueye; Suso, En-Nesyri, Ocampos