Hero in Argentina, but PSV opponent Sevilla has yet to see ‘true Montiel’
In Argentina, he has been a national hero since the World Cup, but at his club Sevilla FC, Gonzalo Montiel has yet to convince. It remains to be seen whether the right back will be in action Thursday night in the Europa League match against PSV.
Go figure, as a relatively inexperienced and unknown soccer player. The decisive penalty in a World Cup final, with the whole world watching. Montiel didn’t turn his hand to it. Almost casually, late last year in Qatar, he shot the ball from 11 meters behind French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Argentina was world champion.
Earlier, Montiel also used his penalty kick against Andries Noppert in the quarterfinals against the Netherlands. That national coach Lionel Scaloni saddled the right back with the important jobs was no surprise to Argentine fans. Montiel scored all 10 penalties he took in his career.
The 26-year-old defender is a specialist from eleven yards. He often sends the goalkeeper into the wrong corner with his ‘no look’ penalties, by looking to one side and shooting into the other corner. That trick earned him the nickname “El Cachete” (The Cheek) in Argentina.
Sevilla did look with amazement at Montiel’s starring role in Qatar. Since the defender was acquired from River Plate for 11 million euros in August 2021, he has not made a great impression in Andalusia.
Montiel shuttles between bench and base. “We haven’t seen the true Montiel here yet,” said Antonio Caamaño, reporter for the regional radio station Canal Sur. “He had a very hard time in the beginning. Lately he’s been doing a little better.”
Montiel’s rise at Sevilla coincides with a trainer change. Julen Lopetegui was sacked last October when Sevilla found themselves in the relegation zone. His successor is a compatriot of Montiel’s: former Argentina national coach Jorge Sampaoli.
The new coach spoke encouraging words about Montiel at a press conference recently. “Gonzalo’s performance depends on that of the team. If we get into the opponent’s half a lot, he can play an important role in our attacking game.”
“But when we don’t have the ball, he has a little more difficulty. I am confident that he will improve in this area.”
A week and a half ago showed what Sampaoli meant. Montiel fouled on all goals during the 3-0 defeat against FC Barcelona. It was an incident, for both the defender and the club. Because since the turn of the year, four of the six league matches were won and Montiel has been playing more and more often and better.
PSV coach Ruud van Nistelrooij is an admirer of Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli’s style of play:
‘Great to run into Sampaoli’
Thanks to good results, Sevilla left the relegation zone behind. Sampaoli’s team is now 12th, although the gap with the teams below the red line is still very small. The lead over number eighteen Valencia, which is just below the relegation line, is only four points.
‘Europa League not a priority’
“Maintaining in the league is priority,” said journalist Caamaño. “The Europa League is less important. Sevilla will not play PSV with its strongest team, but it will really be a competitive team. Sampaoli will not field a B team.”
The coach himself spoke words to the same effect at his press conference Wednesday afternoon. “We have to think about staying in La Liga first, then everything else will come.”
“Against PSV we will play with the best possible team on the day. And on Sunday against Rayo Vallecano I will choose the best team of the day. Because the matches come so soon after each other, it won’t be able to be the same team twice.”
Whether Montiel will get a starting place against PSV? The chances seem slim, as Jesús Navas sat next to Sampaoli at the press conference. The 37-year-old captain is his direct rival as right back.