Sevilla FC – Real Betis: Sevilla Ruthlessly Punish Betis’ Ineffectiveness In The Boxes (3-2)
In a spectacular Seville derby, Sevilla proved to be more ruthless and efficient than their crosstown rivals. In the first half, Sevilla dominated after reorganizing their midfield structure in the initial fifteen minutes. Betis responded in the second half, but Sevilla effectively punished this increased aggression and successfully defended their lead.
Tactical analysis and match report by José Perez.
Throughout the season, it has been very clear that Betis’ problems lie in the boxes. Their defenders are excellent in possession and pressing tasks, but they are somewhat naïve in defending their own box. On the other hand, Betis often have issues getting enough attackers into the opponent’s box and creating chances. Betis dominate possession as much as Real Madrid or Barcelona but lack the firepower to convert that possession into shots.
Against Sevilla, manager Quite Setién opted to use a 3-5-2 formation. Goalkeeper Pau López was supported by central defenders Aissa Mandi, Marc Bartra and Sidnei. In midfield, a trio of William Carvalho, Sergio Canales and Andrés Guardado played right behind Gio Lo Celso and Jesé Rodriguez. On the flanks were wingbacks Junior Firpo on the left and Emerson on the right.
Sevilla, despite their best attempts, have once again experienced a turbulent season. After a bad streak culminated in their elimination from the Europa League, manager Pablo Machín was sacked, with Joaquín Caparrós becoming caretaker manager. Sevilla then shifted to a more traditional counterattacking 4-4-2 setup with a lower defensive block. It might not be spectacular, but it is allowing Sevilla to get good enough results to have a shot at that elusive Champions League spot they are disputing with Valencia and Getafe.
Against, Betis, Caparrós continued the use of the 4-4-2 formation. The goal of Tomáš Vaclík was defended by Daniel Carriço and Gabriel Mercado as central defenders and fullbacks Sergio Escudero and Jesús Navas. In midfield, the team started with a curious double pivot 4-2-3-1 is one of the most frequently occurring formations in football. The two most defensive midfielders are called a ‘double pivot’. with Ever Banega and Franco Vázquez. Surprisingly, Roque Mesa played the role of wide midfielder on the left, while Pablo Sarabia played his usual role as right wide midfielder. Up front, Munir El Haddadi replaced the injured André Silva to play alongside Wissam Ben Yedder.
Match prediction, standings and implications going into the weekend.
Sevilla dominate the first half by reorganizing their midfield structure
Caparrós’ starting lineup—with Vázquez in the double pivot and Mesa out wide—failed quickly. Vázquez is a better fit for advanced midfield roles rather than deeper roles like a double pivot. He prefers to move in between the lines or provide a final pass than to be the team’s midfield engine. Roque Mesa is the opposite case: he prefers being in a deeper midfield role.
Given this situation, the initial ten to fifteen minutes were not pretty for Sevilla. They struggled greatly to pass their way through a tough Betis’ pressing scheme. Vázquez was not making a difference in directing the game or breaking through the Betis press. Meanwhile, Mesa—despite his best efforts—struggled to make a difference on the wings.
Caparrós and his men quickly fixed the problem. By the fifteenth minute, they had switched over to a 4-2-3-1 formation. Banega and Mesa would act as the double pivot, Vázquez would be the number ten in front of them. Pablo Sarabia would remain on the right wing while Munir would be on the left wing. This reorganization was the tactical key to the first half, as it allowed Sevilla to turn things around and dominate the game.
Sevilla’s 4-2-3-1 attacking shape against Betis’ 3-5-2 pressing scheme.
With their newfound 4-2-3-1 shape, Sevilla could play well from the back with the workrate and creativity of Mesa and Banega, as well as create passing combinations on the wing between their wingers (Sarabia and Munir) and their fullbacks (Navas and Escudero). Vázquez and Ben Yedder would move throughout the attacking front trying to create passing triangles on the wings that would overload Betis’ defense. This would put their attackers – particularly Sarabia and Navas – in good positions to cross into the box. That’s how the first goal happened with close to half an hour played. Sarabia put a pinpoint cross to the second post that Munir expertly took advantage of, outsmarting his marker Canales.
Betis struggles to create chances
At this point in the season, saying that Betis struggle to create chances from open play should not come as a surprise to anyone. While the team has a mature buildup phase, they usually lack the players and mechanisms in the final third to consistently capitalize on their good buildup work.
Betis depend too heavily on their wingbacks for attacking depth and width. They must stretch the opposition defense and open spaces in the center. They must also be aggressive off the ball, pin the opposition’s fullbacks and try to break into spaces. And they must often do these tasks alone, because Betis normally use narrow formations with no wingers to support them.
Betis’ 3-5-2 attacking shape against Sevilla’s 4-4-2 low-mid block. A low block refers to a team that retreats deep in their own half out of possession, generally only disrupting their opponents around their own box. A medium block refers to a team that retreats in their own half out of possession, generally only disrupting their opponents some way into their own half. Notice the isolation of Betis’ lone wingbacks against Sevilla’s fullback-plus-winger combination.
Against Sevilla, Betis wingbacks struggled significantly because they consistently found themselves outnumbered in one-versus-two situations. Sevilla had a fullback and a winger against Betis’ lone wingback. It was then difficult to stretch and disorder Sevilla’s 4-4-2 defensive block. Midfielders Canales and Lo Celso did their best to move towards the wings to create passing combinations and overloads, but that meant they could not attack the box and spaces in the center, leaving Jesé to battle against the Sevilla central defenders on his own.
The results of Betis’ subpar attacking mechanisms resulted in a measly three shots created in the first half, with their only shot in the box coming from a set piece.
Betis increase the aggressiveness, but Sevilla respond efficiently
Setién and Betis could not let this situation continue in the second half. The wingbacks were more aggressive and Guardado moved the ball quickly from side to side to disorder the Sevilla defense. This is how Betis tied the game in the 55th minute. A diagonal ball from Guardado reached Firpo, who crossed into the box. Jesé and Emerson had pinned down Sevilla’s defenders, allowing Lo Celso to move into the box unmarked and score.
However, Betis’ increased aggression would be severely punished by an incredibly effective Sevilla. A couple of minutes after Betis’ goal, in the 59th minute, Munir, Ben Yedder and Sarabia would turn a seemingly harmless Lo Celso turnover into a massive counterattack. Munir took advantage of a bad control from Mandi to demolish him through pace and skill, leaving the ball for a determined Ben Yedder to cross into the box to an even more determined Sarabia, who outsmarted Sidnei and Emerson in the box to score. 2-1.
Soon after, in the 64th minute, the killing blow would come. Betis’s defense managed to clear away a Sevilla counterattack, but Sevilla picked up the second ball. Banega slipped a pass to Vázquez, who was perfectly placed in between the lines. This left defender Mandi with the impossible choice: he either had to allow a Vázquez through ball to Munir – who lurked behind his back – or allow Vázquez to shoot. Mandi chose the latter and to his misfortune, Vázquez would not miss, completing a spectacular goal from outside the box. 3-1.
Betis fail to break down the Sevilla defensive lock
In typical Caparrós fashion, it was time for Sevilla to close down the shop and defend their lead. This intention was made clear with the substitutions. In the 69th minute. Aleix Vidal replaced Munir to reinforce the defense of Sevilla’s left flank. Quincy Promes replaced the slower Vázquez for more counterattacking speed and one-versus-one ability. In the 74th minute, Marko Rog replaced the more creative Banega.
Setién responded to Sevilla’s increased defensiveness with his own substitutions. In the 68th minute, Joaquín replaced Emerson at the right wingback position. In the 74th minute, Loren Moron replaced a tired Jesé. Finally, in the 77th minute, an in-form Christian Tello replaced Sidnei, leading to a full reconfiguration of Betis’s structure, which went from a 3-5-2 to a 4-3-3 formation. Lo Celso and Tello acted as right and left wingers, respectively.
However, even with the attacking reinforcements, Sevilla’s low block A low block refers to a team that retreats deep in their own half out of possession, generally only disrupting their opponents around their own box. stood strong. Players helped each other to prevent Betis’ overloads on the wings, Mercado and Carriço cleared incoming danger into their box. In the end, Betis needed a set piece to break the lock, with Tello once again confirming his good form by scoring a free kick in the 82nd minute. The next minutes looked like an incoming Betis avalanche, but Sevilla prevented this by turning to the dark arts of defending. With fouls at the right times and right places, some time-wasting and the constant threat of a counterattack, they prevented Betis from attacking with continuity and fluidity in the final minutes of the game. Betis did not manage to create a single shot after Tello’s goal.
Caparrós’ Sevilla is simple and unattractive, but also effective and makes great use of available personnel. With the disciplined 4-4-2 low-mid defensive block, A low block refers to a team that retreats deep in their own half out of possession, generally only disrupting their opponents around their own box. A medium block refers to a team that retreats in their own half out of possession, generally only disrupting their opponents some way into their own half. Caparrós takes advantage of the best attributes of his defenders – they defend their box well – while hiding their weakness – they suffer in open spaces outside the box. With the counterattacks and wing play, Caparrós takes full advantage of the talents of Sarabia, Ben Yedder, Navas and even Munir. They are a competitive team, and if they can maintain their scoring efficiency, they might just be able to clinch that elusive Champions League spot.
As for Betis and Setién, the outlook is grimmer. The problems Betis suffered against Sevilla—naïve defending of the box, chance creation issues in the final third—are the same problems we have seen the entire season. The coach and his team have not been able to fix these issues, and if Betis plan to continue with Setién at the helm, it seems clear that the only solution left is to go to the transfer market. But…will Betis be able to attract top talent if they fail to qualify for European competitions?
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