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William Bergendahl provides a tactical analysis of the La Liga game that finished Eibar 1-1 Sevilla.
Much has been said and written about Sevilla’s new coach Jorge Sampaoli who is a favourite amongst analysts all over the world. Since his arrival in Spain, results have been pretty solid for his Sevilla side but there was cause for some concern in their match against an Eibar side that had to finish the match with 9 men after seeing Yoel dismissed late in the first half and Dani Garcia being sent off close to the end.
Sevilla went into the game with a 4-3-3 offensive organisation while playing a more flexible 4-1-3-2/ 5-4-1 man-oriented structure in defence. Eibar started the game in a basic 4-4-2 but naturally had to adapt to going a goal down while also having men sent off.
The game was for large parts dominated by the home side with Sevilla having obvious problems in controlling both possession and the game as a whole.
As seen in the above image Eibar were not afraid to situationally leave their 4-4-2 structure and basically press man-to-man higher up the pitch. This was achieved via the right winger pushing up to press Sevilla’s left centre-half and the right-back pushing up to mark the Sevilla left-back, leaving the last line of defence in a 3v3 situation. Sevilla still tried to build-up via short passes but had problems creating the required supportive overloads around the ball. In this situation they would have needed 2 players supporting in the left halfspace, instead of dropping to support circulation Ganso was standing completely isolated from the ball in between lines while Kranewitter lacked ball-orientation. If Ganso were to make a connective movement and was marked tightly he would at least have opened the second ball-area a bit better for the longer option, needless to say the ball was lost on this occasion.
In this image you can see a similar problem with a lack of halfspace orientation ball-side creating a lack of connectivity. If Kiyotake would have dropped down and created an angle (instead of blocking a teammate between lines), Sevilla would have more options to attack the centre and instead of having only one option to play out wide which was easily read and intercepted by Eibar.
Sevilla did have one or two promising attacks in the first half after Vietto dropped deep from his number 9 position to create a 4v2 behind Eibars first line of pressure. After finding Kranewitter facing play from the “6-space” Sevilla could combine to find Ganso between the lines which caused problems for the Eibar back-line. Unfortunately for Sampaoli’s men they could only create this situation once or twice all game because of poor spacing and connectivity combined with imprecise and rather slow ball circulation. Since Kranewitter was the natural “free-man” in the Sevilla build-up, they would have benefitted from a better support-structure around him. This could have been achieved through a fullback creating a 3-chain in the first line for diagonal support or through one of the offensive-midfielders dropping down to create superiority behind Eibar’s first line of defence.
The lack of support in important spaces continued after the sending off. In the two images above you can see two examples of basically the same problems. After attacking wider areas, Sevilla find themselves without a way back into the centre. This meant that some of the most threatening players (marked with arrows) between the lines of Eibar wasn´t connected to the ball. In the first image Sevilla are forced to play all the way to the backline before restarting the attack, while in the second image they fail to even do that. The absence of players in these areas also mean that Sevilla can’t counterpress after losing the ball and are therefore exposed to dangerous counterattacks even though they have the one man advantage.
One of the outstanding characteristics of Jorge Sampaoli’s teams is their pressing-game. On this night it shifted from a basic 4-1-4-1 structure in a medium block to a 4-1-3-2 with close man-orientations for access to the ball in a higher block.
The three images above clearly show Sevilla’s man-oriented pressing-scheme with every Eibar player marked with distances in relation to the position of the ball. When the ball is played back to the ‘keeper, Kiyotake starts pressing him while simultaneously putting the Eibar left centre-half in a cover shadow. This forces the Eibar keeper to play the ball long were Sevilla can intercept. In some situations Dani Garcia (left sided centre-midfielder) would drop deep. In these situations Kranewitter would stick more to a zonal-orientation to keep the balance and superiority centrally in the last line. Sevilla would compensate via the cover-shadow of Kiyotake and Ganso staying in between the two Eibar midfielders (even though I doubt the ‘keeper would have been able to find Garcia with a pass anyway).
When Eibar established attacks in Sevilla’s half , they would drop to more of a 5-4-1 formation as seen above. This was done to maintain balance in the last line when Eibar played longer balls towards 2 attackers and a central midfielder pushing up. This 5-chain played very narrow on occasions causing problems when Eibar switched play and when they crossed into the box from wider areas. The fullbacks could have marked their men a bit tighter without giving up the centre since it was protected by 3 central defenders.
After going a man down Eibar managed to keep the pressure on Sevilla in a 4-2-3 formation with Sevilla looking happy to sit back in their 5-4-1, letting the home side have the majority of the ball. Eibar did manage to equalise after a poorly balanced Sevilla counterattack. Credit must be given to the home side’s play in all the phases of play with 10-men.
Only getting a draw after being both a goal and a man up will be a massive disappointment for Sampaoli’s men. After neutralising Juventus away in a 3-4-3 highly man-oriented structure on Wednesday, this wasn´t a step in the right direction under the new leadership. Never the less it will be interesting to follow the new-looking Sevilla side in the weeks to come.
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