Sevilla 2-0 Valencia: Emery doesn’t change despite red card, both Manzano subs score
Sevilla eventually broke through after Valencia’s Mehmet Topal was sent off in the first half.
For the home side, only Martin Cacares remained from the back four that conceded five goals at the Nou Camp last week. Further forward, it was the same midfield and attack, with Frederic Kanoute pushed up closer to Luis Fabiano.
Surprisingly, Unai Emery chose to go with both Roberto Soldado and Aritz Aduriz, only the third time this season they’ve been played together, and the first time against real top opposition. Juan Mata and Joaquin played the wide positions but both drifted inside, making Valencia look like a 4-2-2-2.
The biggest difference between the sides was the tempo the two played at. Sevilla got the ball forward very quickly, pressed all over the pitch and were piling on the pressure with a corner in the opening minute, whilst Valencia played very slowly, casually knocking the ball across the defence and waiting for an opening further forward.
Deep Valencia defence
Partly as a result of this, Valencia were playing an incredibly deep line. There was frequently 20-30 yards of space between their defence and midfield when they lost the ball – presumably, they were worried about the pace of Luis Fabiano in behind, were going to use Ricardo Costa to track Kanoute when the Malian moved into deep positions, and were confident that, with Sevilla using no attacking central midfielder, they would not be exposed in the (very large) hole.
This did cause a problem for the Valencia defence, although initially in wide areas rather than in the centre. It meant the Sevilla attacking players could pick up speed before running at the Valencia defence with the ball, and this was most obvious battle here was Diego Perotti v Jeremy Mathieu – Perotti constantly got the ball and caused Mathieu all kinds of problems, but failed to deliver many good balls into the box.
Sevilla were also playing well when they didn’t have the ball – and defended from the front excellently. Kanoute dropped into a deeper position when out of possession, picking up Valencia’s deepest midfielder (often Manuel Fernandes) and therefore allowing either Renato or Romaric to become ’spare’ in front of the defence, often looking to close down Mata or Joaquin when they moved inside. Even Fabiano was working hard, moving out towards Miguel and closing him down quickly.
Valencia seemed a little incoherent when they got the ball, as if they missed the central playmaker their 4-2-3-1 features. Aduriz and Soldado took it in turns to drop deeper and create a system of split strikers – Soldado did that better – but there was still a lack of creativity in that zone.
The game changed when Topal was sent-off for a fierce tackle on Cacares near the touchline midway through the first half. Emery’s solution to the problem was, essentially, to keep things as they were – slightly surprising considering Valencia had lost a central midfielder. The roles of Soldado and Aduriz changed slightly in that they were dropping in to become a true central midfielder rather than an attacking midfielder, but they rotated in this task rather than one being played there permanently, and so Fernandes was often left on his own in front of the back four – the two strikers worked hard in getting back, but lacked the required defensive characteristics.
Still, since Sevilla were using two deep-lying midfielders and no-one looking to drive forward from that position, Valencia were relatively comfortable in front of their back four. Fernandes was dealing with the sporadic runs from the Sevilla midfield duo well, whilst the rotating strikers simply got goalside of the other Sevilla midfielder, and Valencia were keeping things reasonably tight. Emery chose not to change things at half-time.
It was a change from Sevilla boss Gregorio Manzano that really took the game to Valencia. He took off central midfielder Romaric and introduced another striker, Alvaro Negredo, moving Sevilla to a very attack-minded system with two main strikers, Kanoute just behind, and two out-and-out wingers. Renato held things together in front. It meant that Valencia had 5 v 4 when defending, and 5 v 5 when attacking. Secure at the back, and able to test Valencia a lot more with the ball.
Negredo had an instant impact, scoring after barely a minute on the pitch. It was after a charge out of defence from Caceres, who made these Lucio-style (or Carvalho-style) runs throughout the match, exploiting the huge gap in front of the Valencia back four. The video below shows this well – how Cacares had a good 40 yards to run into between the Valencia midfield and defence, and when the centre-backs backed off, he forced a save from Cesar Sanchez – Negredo poked in the rebound.
The new shape was causing Valencia much more problems, dragging their side out of shape and overrunning Fernandes, whilst the lack of a spare man meant Valencia were much more chaotic at the back. The midfield didn’t have any shape once there was a need to move higher up the pitch to try to score, and the second goal – from Alfaro, who like Negredo had only been on for a minute – settled things.
This match was about which manager was able to change things to suit the unusual situation. Emery did well to get his side to half-time at 0-0 – Sevilla weren’t making the most of their extra man – but should have brought on another central midfielder to create more of a defensive slant to his midfield.
Full credit to Manzano, however, because not only did he make an attacking change and take the game to Valencia in a well-crafted moved that tipped the balance of the game, both his substitutes scored within a minute of being on the pitch.Sevilla 2-0 Valencia: Emery doesn’t change despite red card, both Manzano subs score