Sevilla, Sevilla, Sevilla had a tough match on their hands yesterday out in wine-guzzling, bull-running Navarra. I came away fairly nonplussed by the stale play and not necessarily the neutered 0-0 scoreline. Osasuna could have won it if not for a tremendous moment of VARAS, when he pushed a 1v1 shot around the post in what looked to be a sure goal for the home team.
Marcelino elected a curious lineup for the match, citing some starters’ need to rest and recoup. He rolled out a backline of Coke, Cáceres, Spahic and Navarro, put Fazio and Trocho in front of them, and then stacked Navas, Manu and Armenteros on top behind Negredo. The backline seemed to hold fairly well, but without Medel out there to break up the distribution from the point, Osasuna leaned on us hard from the whistle. After the first 20mins when we recovered our bearings (and, incidentally, when Negredo got his first touch), we settled down a bit more.
The chances didn’t come, however, as most of the match was fought and tied between the two midfields. I mentioned this in the comments yesterday, but it seemed like we were trying to play an extremely aggressive quick-strike game in which attacking buildup was exchanged for laser soccer. *Ping!* *Ping!* *Ping!* aaaaand *Goal!* was the strategy that I’m assuming came down from Mr. Coach. This lead to a severe lack of precision passes and numerous pitiful losses of possession that turned into Osasuna danger. A couple of opportunities came out of it, but a poor cross or a header straight at the keep was all we could get. Once again, we showed a real aversion to attacking through the middle of the field, as Trocho seemed a bit out of place behind four attacking players. I haven’t seen too many great things out of him so far, but let’s just hope he gets better. Rakitic’s entrance didn’t change much about our attacking direction as even he sprayed a few loose passes into Osasuners’ paths.
The players’ reaction to the match has been mostly positive, saying that an average of two points per match is great, and that keeping this up will put us well ahead of last season’s 58 points. I am inclined to agree. Both of our draws this season came as the visiting side in a notoriously difficult venue, so I suppose the glass is pretty full. We’re more concerned with the shape of the team, which seems to be falling into listlessness in attack once again. Negredo was the best outfield player for us yesterday, but he had little support behind him to play with. Switching back to the positives, we managed to tally our second straight shutout, and we all know that goals allowed was our Achilles Everything last season. So there is still reason to be optimistic about the upcoming matches against the likes of Atleti and Valencia.
Still, goose eggs are hard to spin. “Those are balls.” – Henry Winkler