Valencia 2-0 Sevilla: two Soldado goals from corners
A disappointing game between two sides that have regressed over the past couple of seasons.
Ernesto Valverde named an unchanged side from the XI that won at Granada last time out, which meant Andres Guardado continued at left-back.
Michel also selected an unchanged side, from the 1-0 win over Osasuna.
Valencia dominated the ball and eventually broke through – but really, this was a good demonstration of why the two sides have underachieved this season.
evilla start well
In a match between two identical formations, the midfielders struggled to get time on the ball in the opening stages, and Sevilla looked more of a threat by breaking through their two wide players. In particular, Jesus Navas caused problems down the right by running at Guardado, and although the Mexican coped well in one-versus-one situations, he couldn’t deal with the searing pace of Navas when the ball was knocked in behind him.
Sevilla looked promising down that flank when Ivan Rakitic drifted across to combine with Navas and Alvaro Negredo, with a couple of quick one-twos getting the better of Guardado, and sporadic overlapping from Cicinho also contributing. Navas’ delivery was inconsistent, however, and Sevilla looked more dangerous when they played cut-backs rather than crosses, as Negredo was marked well.
Valencia come into the game
After a quick opening ten minutes, the game settled down and Valencia’s midfield dominance became clear. It was interesting that Jonas was fielded in a right-sided role, rather than in his previous position under Unai Emery and Mauricio Pellegrino, where he acted as a support striker. Instead, it was Daniel Parejo as the most central player, although both Jonas and Pablo Piatti came inside quickly from the flanks.
Valencia’s best chance of creativity from open play came when Sevilla tried to press them high up the pitch. In midfield, Rakitic stayed close to David Albelda, which meant Ever Banega was the free midfielder, the man asked to prompt the home side’s attacks. Therefore, Gary Medel moved up the pitch to close him down, but this left Geoffrey Kondogbia exposed and encouraged Piatti and Jonas to come inside into the space between the lines. If Kondogbia stayed close to Parejo, Jonas often found space in his favoured zone, and tried to slide typically measured passes through the defence for Roberto Soldado, although these balls were intercepted well.
A related issue for Sevilla was the overlapping of Joao Pereira, which was particularly problematic as Jose Antonio Reyes showed absolutely no willingness to help out defensively (and, considering Sevilla were concentrating on the opposite flank for attacking, it wasn’t clear what he was contributing). As Pereira overlapped and broke down the right, it gave Sevilla left-back Fernando Navarro a dilemma – his man, Jonas, was getting too much space when drifting inside, but if Navarro narrowed his position too much, Pereira would get space. In the end, he nullified neither player particularly well, although the blame lies with Reyes.
Valencia dominated possession throughout the game, finishing with 55% of the ball. An interesting feature of the game was that the two number tens, Parejo and Rakitic, was each side’s most frequent passer – 63 and 47 respectively. Usually, you’d expect the holding midfielders to see more of the ball, so this statistic illustrates that the duo were able to come towards play and receive the ball under little pressure. Parejo (5) and Rakitic (3) were also the most prolific creators of chances.
Valencia lead, Sevilla react
Neither coach changed much in the second half, although Piatti spent more time on the right, and his good work resulted in the corner that resulted in Soldado’s opener. The game desperately needed a goal for some tactical excitement, having previously seemed likely to meander to a 0-0, and Michel was forced to react.
His first change was attacking – left-winger Diego Perotti replaced Cicinho, which meant Medel to right-back, Rakitic into the centre of midfield, and Reyes up top behind Negredo. Sevilla looked more threatening with the ball, although Medel wasn’t convincing at right-back, and Perotti had to be removed through injury just 15 minutes after his introduction. Babá replaced him, and then Miroslav Stevanovic came on for the ineffectual Reyes.
Valverde made an attack-minded change, introducing Nelson Valdez for Piatti, and Valencia were more direct in the final 15 minutes – but it was a set-piece, and another Soldado goal, which clinched the game.
A lack of intensity from both teams created a sleepy, quiet game. There were only two moments of genuine attacking quality – a Valencia counter-attack in the second half, which unfortunately resulted in Ricardo Costa finding himself forced to finish the move, and a Rakitic chipped pass for debutant Stevanovic, who had Sevilla’s only attempt on target in the 87th minute.
There were some good battles – Pereira versus Reyes, Navas v Guardado, and Jonas’ movement inside was dangerous, but the game was primarily decided by set-pieces. Valencia won six corners compared to Sevilla’s one, having enjoyed dominance of both possession, and territory.
Valencia 2-0 Sevilla: two Soldado goals from corners