Luis Muriel: Sevilla can threaten Real Madrid, Barcelona this season
Luis Muriel believes Sevilla have what it takes to mount a serious challenge against Real Madrid and Barcelona this season.
Fourth in La Liga in the 2016-17 campaign, the Andalusian club strengthened their squad with nine reinforcements this summer, with Muriel among the new faces.
Muriel became Sevilla's most expensive acquisition in the club's history when they paid Sampdoria around €20 million for the forward in July.
"We want to be among the top four or five teams in La Liga and to consolidate our name in Europe," he is quoted as saying by AS. "Real Madrid has looked invincible in past years but I'm convinced we can beat them, the same goes for Barcelona.
"They are no longer those teams that you think you have lost to even before the game has started. If we do things well, then even against them it's possible [to win]."
Sevilla were twice beaten by Barcelona in La Liga last season but won 2-1 at home to Real Madrid before falling 4-1 at the Bernabeu in May.
Muriel, who played in Spain while on loan at Granada in the 2010-11 campaign, scored 13 goals for Sampdoria last season.
"The money that the club has invested in me is a big motivation," Muriel said of Sevilla. "I was very young when I went to Granada and I made many mistakes.
"In Serie A, I've grown accustomed to finding spaces even when there were none. In Spain there is a lot of space and I think I can make use of my characteristics."
Sevilla are competing in the Champions League group stages and are in Group E with Liverpool, Spartak Moscow and Maribor.
They reached the knockout stages of that competition last season for the first time since 2009-10 but were eliminated by Leicester in the round of 16 of the competition.
"We need to go past the group stages in the Champions League and then we shall see," Muriel said.
Sevilla, under new coach Eduardo Berizzo, started their La Liga campaign with a 1-1 draw at home to Espanyol before claiming a 1-0 win at Getafe. They host Eibar on Saturday.
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.