Osasuna managed to see themselves to the end with ten men against Sevilla in La Liga, drawing 1-1. Munir opened the scoring in the first half before Ávila equalised in added time of the first half. Sevilla remain third in the league ahead of the top two clashing in El Clasico, while Osasuna finished the weekend in 10th. This tactical analysis will look into how Osasuna managed to hold onto the point against Sevilla.


Osasuna lined-up in a 4-4-2 formation, with Estupiñán and Jon Moncayola starting as full-backs. Raúl Navas and David García partnered at centre-back, with Brašanac and Oier Sanjurjo ahead of them in the midfield, with Rubén García and Roberto Torres either side of those. Ávila and Marc Cardona paired up as strikers for Osasuna.

La Liga 2019/20: Osasuna vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics

Sevilla came out in a 4-3-3 shape, with Koundé and Diego Carlos manning the middle of the defence. Reguilón and Navas played as full-backs, with Fernando sitting in front of the back-four. Banega and Jordán completed the midfield, while Torres, Munir and Javier Hernández made-up the front three.

Osasuna on-the-ball

Osasuna’s build-up tactics looked to build-up in the wide areas in blocks of four. The 4-4-2 formation allowed for Osasuna to out-number the Sevilla press, which often had Sevilla pushing the wide areas with three players in the earlier minutes of the match.

As we can see below, Osasuna built from the back in squares to link the defence from the midfield, as the Osasuna shape compacted inside, with García tucking inside to fill the gap left by the deep midfielder who has dropped into the four-man play-out.

La Liga 2019/20: Osasuna vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics
Osasuna play-out in a four-man block, compacting their shape in order to toy with Sevilla’s high-press and overloading the central areas.

This forced Sevilla into committing more bodies in the high-press in order to match Osasuna’s play-out block. This opened up the pitch further for Osasuna, giving them more space to attack the middle and final third.

As we can see below, the whole front-three comes across to stretch the four-man block. The options for the centre-half on the ball open further as the other half of the back-four (out of shot), as well as a passing lane through the block straight into a 1v1 to expose the Sevilla back-four.

La Liga 2019/20: Osasuna vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics
Sevilla match Osasuna’s four-man play-out, leaving room for the switch as well as playing through the cage.

This had Sevilla revert to plan C, dropping off in the wide areas and holding a 4-5-1 formation. The Sevilla midfield and defensive lines stayed compact, generally at the same distance to the touch-line as the full-back on the ball, while the holding midfielder man-marks the Osasuna progressive midfielder.

Sevilla’s best bet to win the ball without putting themselves in great danger is an aggressive wide press in the deeper positions, matching them man-for-man with the full-back, midfielder coming inside and the winger ahead on the by-line, using the by-line as the ‘fourth man’ to force the issue for Osasuna.

La Liga 2019/20: Osasuna vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics
Sevilla leave space at the by-line for Osasuna to attack, ready to pounce with a 3v3 press against the by-line.

Sevilla dragged Osasuna into committing more numbers, much like what Osasuna did earlier on in the game. As Osasuna commit more numbers to support the wide press, Sevilla can choke the ball out from the wide areas, opening up the pitch for the counter-attack.

La Liga 2019/20: Osasuna vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics
Sevilla suck in more Osasuna jerseys toward the wide-area, opening up the pitch for the inevitable counter.

The wide press was fairly successful for Sevilla, as shown by the duels charts sown below, courtesy of Wyscout.

La Liga 2019/20: Osasuna vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics

Osasuna off-the-ball

Osasuna’s formation put them in a more comfortable position to press Sevilla high with four bodies, with the strikers coming over to support the wide press, meaning that the midfield could still moderately cover the back-four.

La Liga 2019/20: Osasuna vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics

The 4-4-2 block kept Osasuna secure down the wide areas, given that they can slow Sevilla down and not get caught on the counter, which is where the opener came from. As we can see below,  Sevilla struggled to overload the wide area, with three pushed against the by-line, while the inside support is limited, while the inside of the Osasuna block can hold their ground and block the remainder of the front-three from supporting Sevilla while they endure the wide press.

La Liga 2019/20: Osasuna vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics

Osasuna went down to ten men in the second half, which had Osasuna caught in two minds between pressing and holding back, which opened them to the threats of Sevilla.

This brings us onto our third and final piece of analysis.

Sevilla can’t find the winner

Sevilla built-up in a back-three, with either one of the full-backs or Fernando dropping into the centre-half position. This allows for the other full-back to attack with the runs of a winger or attacking midfielder, whether that be to come inside to support the midfield build-up or overload the wide area.

As we can see below, Fernando has dropped into the back-three, pushing both full-backs further forward rather than one, that Sevilla reverted to following Osasuna’s red card in the full-back position.

La Liga 2019/20: Osasuna vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics

Sevilla were still subject to and aggressive wide press, but Osasuna had to be careful, as they were a man down in the midfield. This made it easier for Sevilla to play their way out of the wide press, as their supporting midfielder came across un-marked, breaking-up Osasuna’s wide press.

Osasuna’s persistence with the wide press had them switch to a back-five, and following Sevilla’ wide press escape, there was a window of opportunity for the ball through the back-line, with the near-sided midfielders and defender detached from the rest of Osasuna’s formation.

La Liga 2019/20: Osasuna vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics

This gave the opportunity for a wide overload from Sevilla, with excellent full-backs who can get between the lines and cause problems for a weakened Osasuna defence.

As we can see below, Osasuna lost their fourth man in the block pres that we looked at earlier, allowing for Sevilla to add more bodies in the wide rotation, while bringing out a wide press which allowed for the winger to make a run in-behind while also providing stronger deep support from the midfield in a bid to open more gaps between the lines.

La Liga 2019/20: Osasuna vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics


Overall, Sevilla should’ve won this match. Osasuna held a solid block right up until the sending off. Osasuna’s defensive block was built upon out-numbering Sevilla in 4v3 blocks, which was compromised following the red card. The wide overload worked well, creating a couple of chances, including a chance which agonisingly went through the keeper’s leg but spun onto the post. Now, it’s over to the winner of the El Clasico to create a gap between themselves and third-placed Sevilla.

Total Football Analysis Magazine #16: December 2019

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