Chicharito scored one of the most important goals of his career against Atletico Madrid four years ago and his Sevilla side plays host to them this weekend in LaLiga.
The Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan is preparing for one of the biggest spectacles of the season this Saturday as Sevilla FC host Atletico de Madrid in Matchday 12 of LaLiga Santander.
In addition to being a huge clash between two of the best teams in the country, it’ll be a special day for Mexican forward Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez. The 31-year-old hitman scored what was probably the most important goal in his career in Spain so far against Los Rojiblancos, and even though four years have passed since the event it remains a highlight of his career.
It was April 22nd 2015 and the city of Madrid had ground to a standstill because of a football match. Not for any old game, but for a derby between Real Madrid and Atletico in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. What’s more, it wasn't just a normal derby. Just a few months earlier Los Blancos had beaten their cross-city rivals to win the same competition in a heart-stopping final in Lisbon, and as it turned out the draw had thrown up the same clash in the quarters of the following season’s edition. It was a derby which had the flavour a final, with the elements of revenge and the weight of history playing key roles. The home side was missing their first-choice frontman Karim Benzema through injury, with a certain Chicharito Hernandez filling in for the Frenchman in the crucial tie at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The first leg at the Vicente Calderon finished all square at 0-0, a game which was characterised by nerves aplenty, over-cautious play derived out of mutual respect and with Atletico still smarting from the previous season’s pain. The second leg was a near carbon copy of the first - at least until the 88th minute of the match. It was then that a move between Cristiano Ronaldo and James Rodriguez on the right flank ended up with the ball at the feet of Chicharito Hernandez. The Mexican, unmarked and from point-blank range, did what he does best: score goals. Steadying himself, with the whole world watching on, he fired into the goal unchallenged. Even before the ball had hit the back of the net the Bernabeu was already on its feet in celebration. There was no time for Atletico to make a comeback, Los Blancos had all but sealed their place in the Champions League semi-finals and once again it was Real Madrid that came out on top in the Spanish capital derby on the European stage. Chicharito soaked up the moment lying on the grass as his teammates swamped him in jubilation.
The Guadalajara-born striker immediately became the hero of the night for Real Madrid, and his performances that season in Spain haven’t been forgotten. After all, he was the only goalscorer in one of the most important matches of the year. Chicharito ended the campaign with nine goals to his name, and although the striker didn’t stay at Real Madrid the following season that day is still strongly remembered in the Spanish capital. As a result, this Saturday's Sevilla vs Atletico showdown is enveloped by a special aura with the presence of Chicharito in the home side’s team, who joined the Andalusians from West Ham this summer.
The Mexican is an important figure for Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui, who like Chicharito has already faced his former team Real Madrid this season. As was to be expected, he was given a warm welcome by his former Los Blancos teammates. This weekend will be another chance for the striker to channel the spirit of his 2014-15 season in Spain, as Diego Simeone’s charges are waiting for him, including Jan Oblak, Koke, Saul Ñiguez and Josema Gimenez, who all featured in that memorable encounter and are still at Atletico. On the same day on which the Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico, Sevilla will play out one of the biggest festivals of football that this season in Spain has to offer, with Chicharito Hernandez taking centre stage. One thousand and five hundred days later, nobody has forgotten his iconic goal.
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