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Match analysis: Sevilla - Barcelona

Match analysis: Sevilla - Barcelona

Emery took great risks but proved to be effective

By Athanasios Terzis

In the most important match of the weekend for the Spanish league, Barcelona faced Sevilla, La Liga’s only unbeaten team at home. This meant that Barcelona had a difficult task to carry out. Despite the fact that the Catalans had an early two goal lead, they didn’t manage to win the match. Unai Emery took risks but he finally saw his players scoring the equalizer with a late goal from Gameiro.      



1st half: Both teams tried to press high but Barcelona were more confident on the ball  

Barcelona: Barcelona started with their usual 4-3-3 formation. Suarez was in the middle and Messi on the right. Neymar took up a position on the left. Barca tried to take control of the game by pressing high up the field. The three forward stayed in high positions and let the midfielders and the fullbacks (especially Rakitic and Alves on the right) to deal with the advanced positions of Sevilla fullbacks.



Sevilla: The home side started with a 4-2-3-1 which was more a 4-2-2-2 during pressing application and when Barca managed to break through it, the home side dropped back and turned to 4-4-2. Emery tried to disrupt Barcelona’s building up from the back play by placing his players in advanced positions. Especially the two wingers Vitolo and A. Vidal took up very high positions to put pressure on the central defenders of Barca. Bacca and Banega were lower and close to the midfielders Busquets and Rakitic who dropped deeper to help in build up play. Iborra was close to Iniesta and Krychowiak took up a balanced position in order to be close both to Alves and to his team mate Tremoulinas to provide help in double marking of Messi. 


As regards closing down Messi, Tremoulinas was near him when the Argentine took up wide positions. When Messi was in the centre, mainly Krychowiak had to keep an eye on him. Finally when Messi tried to drive the ball towards the inside, Krychowiak was always close to provide support and block the inside lane for passing or driving the ball. Krychowiak tried to take up positions which enabled him to shift and support Tremoulinas, that’s why when the ball was on the left of Barcelona, he had to make sure that he was aware of Messi’s positioning. He avoided making extensive shifts towards the left of Barca in order to prevent Messi from playing 1 v 1 with Tremoulinas and especially making his driving runs towards the inside. In cases that Krychowiak somehow was out of effective position the left winger Vitolo had to provide support to Tremoulinas.




As regards dealing with Neymar, Coke had instructions to follow him even in deep positions and prevent him from turning when he received the ball. This created most of the problems for Sevilla during first half, as Neymar was effective when receiving and driving the ball towards the inside (in 1 v 1 situations) and in cases that the ball wasn’t passed to him, his team mates took advantage of the space behind Coke.


Barcelona’s pressing proved to be more effective as despite the fact that Krychowiak dropped between the two centre backs of Sevilla to provide help, the home side was unable to build up successfully from the back. So the GK was forced to make long kicks. On the contrary Barca reacted well when Sevilla tried to put pressure high and with the contribution of Bravo they moved the ball from side to side and managed to find the free player who was usually Alba. When Barca managed to break through the pressure, Sevilla’s players dropped back and got compact by having almost all players behind the ball. Barcelona took control and started passing the ball around. Sevilla tried to play on the counter by exploiting the space behind the advanced positioned fullbacks, mainly with Banega directly and the two fullbacks Coke and Tremoulinas indirectly, who moved forward in every given chance. This was possible only in occasions that the player who received the first pass (after winning possession) had time on the ball to make a successful forward pass as Barca tried to react immediately during negative transition. Then Bacca tried to receive on the move either by running between the two centre backs or towards the free space near the side lines. During positive transition for Sevilla, Krychowiak provided balance by staying close to the defenders as Messi didn’t follow Tremoulinas and Neymar didn’t track Coke.  

The first goal came and early rather easily for Barcelona. Coke made a bad judgment and left Neymar free in order to move forward to put pressure on Iniesta. This unbalanced Sevilla for a couple of seconds as Neymar received, drove the ball towards the inside and made a diagonal pass to Messi. The last one took advantage of both Krychowiak’s and Vitolo late reaction and found the space and the free shooting lane to make the shot with his favorite move towards the inside. Sevilla was one goal down. This gave more confidence to the Catalans who continued dominating the game as they both kept possession and carried out successfully the negative transition. Most efforts took place on the left, where Coke was dragged out of position from Neymar. Alba together with Iniesta exploited the space through combination play and caused many problems.




Sevilla was forced in a passive role and tried to threaten mainly on the counter. The second goal of Neymar was something like an alarm clock for Emery’s players who decided that they should build up from the back and expose Barca’s weaknesses (the low contribution of Messi and Neymar in defence). Banega switched positions with Iborra from time to time and dropped deep to help in building up. Tremoulinas moved in advanced positions and his team mates tried to take advantage of Messi’s decision not to follow him deep. Alves was mainly the player who took over the responsibility of closing down Tremoulinas. This was supported by a chain reaction of the defenders as well as the dropping back of Busquets in a centre back’s role.


Sevilla tried to exploit the potential bad synchronization of Barca during switching players and they managed it a few minutes later. Tremoulinas received the ball while both Alves and Messi where in advanced positions. He passed to Bacca near the side line and made the overlap. Bacca managed to win the duel with Busquets and the ball ended to Sevilla’s left fullback who made the cross. Banega received the clearance and scored by shooting out of the box. One minute later Messi saved Barca by blocking a shot within the box from Banega after Alves giving the ball away.

2nd Half: Emery’s risk proved to be effective  

During the second half, Sevilla came out determined to press high. Emery put the less technically skilled but very strong in the air Iborra in a position close to Bacca, while Banega was most of the time in deep positions. This was done in order to press high as Iborra is very strong physically, as well as to move the ball forward more easily (mainly towards Tremoulinas). Additionally Emery wanted to take advantage of a potential cross from his fullbacks as Iborra could be a threat inside the box. Furthermore he gave orders to Coke to move forward to put pressure on Alba during pressing in order to leave no player free for Barca. This resulted equality in numbers (3 v 3) at the back as Neymar also stayed forward.


During the attacking phase the two fullbacks had the freedom to move forward at the same time and Krychowiak stayed back close to the centre backs to create a 3 v 3 as both Messi and Neymar stayed high. On the other hand Banega dropped very deep towards the centre and the left to receive and move the ball forward. Emery created an overload with many players outside Barca’s box and the main aim was to pass the ball to Tremoulinas in order to take advantage of it. This resulted a great scoring chance from Bacca.


The Catalans found it very difficult to overcome the pressure and made several mistakes. With the exception of Suarez’s great scoring chance after an overload from Iniesta on the left, Barca struggled to take advantage of the risk Emery took. Emery switched Iborra and Vitolo and brought in Reyes and M’bia. Banega had now more freedom to help both in front and at the back as M’bia took a position beside Krychowiak while Reyes provided energy and quality. On the other hand Enrique brought in Xavi for Neymar and placed him in midfield while at the same time he put Iniesta as a left winger to control the frequent overlapping from Coke. The equalizer came after a Pique’s poor pass which was intercepted by Reyes. The former Arsenal man dribbled past Busquets and made a lovely pass for Vidal who had taken a risky position against Alba. This positioning proved to be decisive as his cross lead to Gameiro’s equalizer. Barca had little time available to win the game and nothing chanced until the final whistle.


Conclusion: Barcelona started wonderfully, but failed to keep the two goal lead. During the second half Sevilla pressed excellently and took great risks while Barcelona failed to take advantage of it and lost control of the game. Suarez missed a couple of great chances which could have changed the outcome but Sevilla put a lot of effort and they deserved what they finally got.        



Last Updated on Monday, 13 April 2015 17:39

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