The folks (guy? nerds? analysationbot? (he’s british, I think, hence the “s”)) at Zonal Marking gave Sevilla some rare love yesterday, giving the whole chalkboard treatment to our match with Valencia. That website is pretty great in my opinion, and if in the discussion of a game they said “the key to winning the game for Inter was scoring less goals than their opponent” I’d probably just take that in stride and casually add it to my understanding of the game. “They looked great yesterday, but they made the fatal mistake of scoring too many goals,” I’d say over beers to no one in particular at the pub.
Anyway, the point is I like the analysis over there, so I recommend reading their synopsis as a sort of post-match. In particular, I think ZM gets at the main issues of the game: we were playing the game about 20 times faster than them as the game began, and Valencia basically gave us an ocean of empty space where their midfield was supposed to be. As long as we’re getting all technical, check out soccernet’s neat heat map feature and see how deep Kanouté was playing (we’re attacking to the right in this diagram):
He was basically never in their box, and seemed to be playing as an attacking midfielder. Given that, and the way we dominated the middle of the field, it’s hard not to see Kanouté’s withdrawn role as sort of decisive in the game’s action. Also decisive: Cáceres playing like a CB/AM hybrid. Dude was on fire yesterday. He even reacted to injuries with extra zeal.
ZM notes that we pressed up front really well, and notes that Kanoute’s positioning allowed an extra midfielder to play in front of our back four as well. Also true. I agree. Finally, ZM also notes that the subs both scored. This, too, I find hard to argue with. More the point, though, I was extremely pleased to see Manzano go after the points at 0-0 (and then for the second goal after we scored) and bring on a third striker–given our domination of the middle of the field and Kanouté’s depth it would have been silly to make a like-for-like change, but that is the move I would sort of expect from our last couple managers–try to imagine Álvarez or Jimenez making a substitution at that point in the game. I see both of them putting Negredo on for Fabiano every time.
Speaking of our current manager, this game is Manzano’s 9th in charge, and this matchseems like a natural time to step back and analyze (I’m American, so z’s for me) where we’re at now, or at least what direction he seems to want to take us (with the caveat that we were playing most of this particular match with an extra man, duh). I’ll throw out some things, but you guys add your comments/thoughts.
–I like the withdrawn Kanouté, and he seems to as well. It’s not as if we’ve never seen that tactic with Sevilla, but it seems to me we are playing with more clarity and purpose up front than in recent years, and Kanouté’s slow and effective movement is a big part of that.
–Dabo impresses me with his movement, pace, and intelligence every time he’s in the game. Not sure why Manzano doesn’t play him more, but it’s nice to see us successfully use our speed on the wings from time to time.
–Anyone seen Zokora? Anyone? If Manzano intends to play more of a 4-4-1-1, is Zokora somehow wrong for that formation? What is Renato/Romaric doing that I’m not seeing that keeps DZ on the bench?
–Speaking of formation, would you all agree that the 4-4-1-1 is basically Manzano’s base formation for us? Either way, it’ll be interesting to see if or how our shape and approach changes with Navas back after Christmas.
–Mike, I’m curious about your thoughts regarding Perotti on the right. He had at once a successful (every time he got the ball he was in great positions and beating a very good player in Mathieu) and dreadful (WTF are those crosses, man?!?) night…you’ve mentioned your desire to see him over there before, what did you think?
One other thing: I was putting up our next slew of matches, and we have another insane stretch right before Christmas: vs Getafe, at PSG, at Villareal, vs Almeria, vs Dortmund, at Real Madrid in the 3 weeks between 11/28-12/19. Yeesh.