Valencia managed to maintain their 16 unbeaten matches after a 1-0 win over Sevilla at Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán on Sunday. Daniel Parejo’s penalty at the end of the first half also strengthened Valencia’s position to qualify for the next season’s UEFA Champions League. As for Sevilla, they suffered a third defeat (of a total of six matches) in the whole March.
Both clubs played a 4-4-2 formation. Sevilla coach, Joaquín Caparrós, gave La Liga debut this season for his goalkeeper, Javier Díaz. He played Díaz because Tomás Vaclik suffered a minor injury, while Juan Soriano was also suspended.
Marcelino García Toral also played his best formation for Valencia. The 4-4-2 formation by both clubs should cover all of the pitch on paper. But Sevilla played narrower in defence. In addition, Sevilla’s full-backs often went up so that their back four could be exploited by Valencia’s wide shape.
Valencia’s pressing on the defensive third of Sevilla
Despite playing away from home, Valencia applied more pressure since Sevilla made a build-up from behind. The average position of right-back Jesús Navas and left-back Maximilian Wöber that was too advanced (as seen from the passing network below) several times made Sevilla lose direction when the ball was still in their own defensive third.
Two Valencia forwards, Rodrigo Moreno and Kevin Gameiro, immediately pressed both Sevilla central defenders. Daniel Carriço and Gabriel Mercado (then replaced by Sergi Gómez in the 26th minute because Mercado was injured) were forced to pass the ball continuously to both of their full-backs who had been guarded and pressed by two Valencia wingers.
Valencia deliberately pressed down Sevilla only in the Sevilla’s defensive third because they wanted to make Sevilla send a long ball forward. Sevilla’s two attackers, Munir El Haddadi (with the height of 1.75 m) and Wissam Ben Yedder (1.70 m), do not have towering heights compared to Ezequiel Garay (1.89 m) and Gabriel Paulista (1.87 m) to win the aerial duel.
Valencia’s pressure could make Sevilla almost conceded in the 34th minute. As seen in the second image above, Carriço didn’t have many choices to pass. He then gave the ball to Maxime Gonalons who then lost the ball because it was pressed by his opponent.
But despite being pressed, Sevilla actually had more ball possession, which was 60%. They just started to control the ball in the second half, when Valencia were already leading. Overall, Sevilla had 17 shots (five on target) with 11 of them recorded in the second half.
Switch sides via Parejo and Kondogbia
Unlike Sevilla that already used the flanks in their own defence, Valencia just circulated the ball into the flanks after the ball had reached the feet of their two central midfielders.
Parejo and Geoffrey Kondogbia acted as Valencia’s metronome. Parejo (received 35 passes, sent 46 passes) and Kondogbia (received 38 passes, sent 36 passes) became the two most involved Valencia players in the game.
Not only pass to one another (18 combinations of passes between the two of them), Parejo and Kondogbia also often send wide passes to the flank. Valencia did not hesitate to change sides of attack through their two central midfielders.
The process of the Valencia penalty was started when they tried to switch the attacking side from the middle to the right flank, to the middle again, and then to the left flank. In the picture below, you can also see how Sevilla defended too narrowly, making Valencia’s full-backs get plenty of space on the flank.
In the picture above, Sevilla’s back four is too narrow. Navas did not cover his opponent’s full-back. The unmonitored movement of José Luis Gayà led to Éver Banega’s foul because he was too late to do a trackback.
Sevilla’s pointless crosses
Unlike Valencia that had been very organised in their attack and defence, Sevilla attacked sporadically. Statistics show that Sevilla had the ball possession as much as 60%. They also managed to record 17 shots (five on target). But their attacks were very predictable.
Credit needs to be given to the way Valencia defended. They were very disciplined. In the first half, for example, when Valencia lost the ball in the opponent’s half and allowed Sevilla to make a quick counter-attack, at least eight of their players could immediately retreat to help the defence.
This is what meant Sevilla never really endangered the Valencia’s goal despite successfully making 17 shots and several times getting a quick counter-attack situation.
One of Sevilla’s deadlock in the match was shown by their crossing statistics. From Wyscout, we can see that Sevilla made 36 crosses, but only six were on target. Navas (5 successful crossings out of 14) and Quincy Promes (3/10) were the players who most often send crosses.
Caparrós’ team too often releases crosses that were not clear in their direction and purpose. This method is not effective against Valencia who have only conceded 23 goals throughout the La Liga 2018/19 (the second least in La Liga).
Valencia’s disciplinary defence meant both their central defenders, Garay and Gabriel, as the most players to recorded clearance in the match. Garay managed to make 11 clearances (six headers) and the former defender of Arsenal made seven clearances (two headers). Of the 40 clearances made by Valencia, only four occurred outside their own penalty box.
For Sevilla themselves, the inclusion of Franco Vázquez had made their game a little better. But that was not enough to make Sevilla score an equalizer, indeed because of their attacks were too sporadic.
Now Valencia are unbeaten in 16 matches. They won nine times and recorded nine clean sheets, conceding just 10 times. Their strong defence made Sevilla’s sporadic attack became meaningless.
Sevilla were dull and predictable. They should be better at facing a deadlock than just relying on pointless crosses. The defeat from Valencia at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán not only made Sevilla difficult to qualify for the Champions League next season but also highlighted how they needed a tactical refreshment from the touchline.
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