Sevilla 2 Leicester City 1: Post Match Thoughts

Why does this feel like a loss? We won the match today 2-1 at the Sanchez Pizjuan, and  we led the match throughout, held a two goal lead until the 73rd minute and seemed in utter control of the match for at least 85 of the 90 minutes. Our halftime possession was north of 80%, and we outshot Leicester 23-7. That away goal just feels out of place. It was our best team performance since the Real Madrid win, and I can’t point to a single player who had a bad performance. There were enough opportunities to kill this tie off, but at the same time there is only one missed clear cut chance (the penalty) that sticks out.

Sampaoli came out with a semi-surprising team selection, opting for Tucu Correa over Mudo or Ben Yedder. And honestly, it improved the fluidity of the team better than when those other two have been starting the last few matches. While Correa did not provide an option in the box by making near-post runs or pulling off his man, he did offer more in the way of hold-up play in midfield and quick flicks to release forward attacks into space. He made the correct reads off of Jovetic’s flick-ons. As a team, we didn’t really try to make runs in behind the defense, which is usually Ben Yedder/Vietto’s primary offensive contribution (although it’s mainly been Ben Yedder stat-padding his offsides totals recently). And he continued to show his mastery of the dark arts that Vitolo has surely taught him.

The penalty was annoying. We just don’t have a clear-cut penalty taker this year. The first three times Correa drew a penalty this year, Ben Yedder in the Copa and then Iborra took the ball away from him and scored. I understand the urge to reward a guy for continually creating opportunities for the team, but we have to settle on a primary penalty taker. We had Rakitic three years ago, then Bacca, then Gameiro (with Banega and Kono getting a couple chances). This year, we’ve had 6 guys take penalties. Kono (1/1), Sarabia (1/1), Ben Yedder (3/3), Iborra (1/1), Correa (0/1) and Nasri (0/1). Nzonzi scored one in the Europa League shootout against Bilbao, and Jovetic scored 8 while he was with Fiorentina. The failure to designate a penalty-taker falls squarely on the coach. I have no clue who the first option is. It should be Ben Yedder, but he was on the pitch against Villarreal when Nasri took it. Sarabia is probably the best second option. But we must create a defined hierarchy here. This freelancing has cost us twice this month.

I thought we were excellent defensively apart from the goal. Rami and Lenglet were tidy with the ball, and other than two or three questionable passes out of the back at the start of the second half, did well to hold their nerve and find either Nzonzi or Nasri. Lenglet did well multiple times when he was pinned to the sideline to play diagonal defense-splitting balls into Jovetic or Correa to initiate an attack. Mariano defended well for the most part. He held his position perfectly when he was 1 v 1 against Gray late in the match after one of our corners. But a lack of communication between him and Sarabia let Leicester outnumber them on 3 v 2 on the sideline and let Drinkwater get in behind. Iborra could not close him down in time and Carrico couldn’t quite cut out the perfect cross. Rami overcommitted trying to help Mariano and Sarabia and left a huge space for Drinkwater to run into. Escudero was excellent throughout, obviously in attack but Leicester did nothing down his side of the field all match. And that cross was a thing of beauty.

Nzonzi demonstrated to all the EPL-blinded skeptics who only remember him as a Stoke player that he is indeed one of the best CMs in the world. His positioning is world class. He seemed to recover every Leicester defense header or hoofed ball out of the defense. He was calm under pressure and filled the attacking space when we countered late. Nasri bounced back from an anonymous performance against Eibar and dictated most of the attacking play for the first 75 minutes. He played a ridiculous ball in behind that Vitolo nearly squeezed in from an impossible angle, but there were a couple of times where he really needed to just put the damn ball in the box or have a shot. He was the primary culprit of us taking our foot of the gas in the last 15 minutes. From a fan’s standpoint, that was incredibly frustrating though I understand tactically how it may have been the right decision as the match was getting more and more stretched at that point.

Which brings up another point that continues to frustrate me. There is no reason not to use all of our substitutes. Sampaoli came out after the Atletico match (and Lyon too I think) basically saying that he doesn’t see substitutes as an obligation, but simply as an option. Literally speaking, that’s true, but as that match got more and more stretched, we really should have made a third substitution to attempt to change the direction of the match as Leicester started to gain a little more influence. Mudo seemed like the obvious attacking option, but then who do you bring off? Sarabia and Jovetic were still influencing the match, and Vitolo’s earned the right to play the entire match. So that leaves Nasri, who played fantastic. Do you bring him off there? I probably would have, but it’s not an obvious solution.

Sarabia better being getting a sitdown with Monchi and Pepe Castro to sign an extension and raise that release clause soon. He’s been the signing of the season, not just for us but for all of La Liga. At this point, I think he has relegated Mudo to a bench role, because he has been every bit as good as Vitolo in his two way contribution. Jovetic also continues to be amazing. His hold-up play and flick-ons are great, but his ability to both run the channels and be basically the only option in the box is invaluable. Ben Yedder is good in the box, but he’s basically not a threat when he gets dragged out wide. Vietto is the opposite. That Jovetic offers both makes him a perfect fit for us. And the control to set up Correa’s goal was crazy.

We head to Leicester in 3 weeks. A lot can change in that time. Leicester has too much individual talent to be playing this bad, and they’ll surely have Slimani back by that time. Qualifying for the quarter-finals is not going to be easy, and an away goal is imperative. Today was a great team performance. It’s annoying how one goal, in a game that we won and dominated, can completely change the emotions.

Here are a few photos from Mark who was lucky enough to attend today’s match.

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Comments 43

  1. It’s very clear that we had no nominated penalty taker.
    I have Just been watching the in-depth summary of the match on Spanish tv and what they picked up on re the penalty and showed over and over again using different camera shots not used during the live transmission is worrying.

    As soon as the ref blew his whistle Jovetic grabbed the ball and was clearly going to take it only for Sarabia to approach him and demand that he should let him have it. While the two of them squabbled over who was going to take the pen Correa snatched the ball from Jovetic, walked away with it and then Vitolo had to step in and keep the peace.

    1. Post
    2. Wow… missed that drama as I was busy celebrating for the pen. But definitely, we don’t have a clear penalty taker and that’s worrying. Lack of discipline on that matter comes to mind, it’s not something a serious team does.

      We’ve had many penalties this season and missed a lot of them. The only case where it was all good to pass from the real penalty taker was Iborra’s case vs. Celta away. He was going for the hattrick and the match was more or less over. Even though, some teams prefer to not even risk it at that point, and go with the expert penalty taker. However, in another case involving Iborra, it was vs. Barca the second leg of Supercup of Spain, sure the game was messed up at that point, however, he took the penalty without being the first taker and missed it.

      The ones I can remember taking penalties for us were: WBY, Iborra, Vietto, Sarabia, Nasri, Correa…. not good to have this much penalty takers and always argue who’s gonna take it.

      There should be a clear cut rule, either Sarabia or WBY, neither missed in any of their attempts so far, so why the hell experiment with this very important feature?

  2. Also a good point jolazo. Mariano was good on 1v1 with Gray, but how good can that be when Gray came in only in the second half and make tried to make 2-3 runs at most. Mariano was nowhere near his level tonight and that cost us a goal, poor marking down there and Ranieri was clever to have his players lead all the attacks (the semi-attacks with not much danger) through our right side. The left side with Escudero and Lenglet was made of steel.

  3. great recap jolazo.

    and perhaps more than anything, i agree about sarabia. give that man a raise. and jack that release clause up as high as possible. he’s been fantastic all season. thank you monchi.

  4. Some good news, Escudero extended his contract for 2 years (until 2021). Release clause or anything of that matter is not mentioned in the notice.

  5. I am still very much happy with how things are going. Of course it was frustrating to concede, frustrating to lose at Granada and espanyol.

    However, overall the highs are easily outweighing the few lows we having. We played a great game last night but I think we relaxed just a bit at 2-0 and it cost us. However, we can take real positives that we won the match and we dominated it. If we play like that in Leicester and this time don’t let up I see us winning there too. We have all the tools and fight to get the job done and get to the last 8. We have the experience, the quality and I’m happy sampaoli will be back on the touchline for this return leg too. Will give the team more power and maintain better focus in the 90 mins.

    As for the league we doing amazing too. With Real madrids loss it fuels our faint hopes of a miraculous title win. To think if we win at betis we could go level top for at least a day is insain. It’s a great opportunity for us to stay right up there and potentially get closer to the dream top spot as Barca and Real Madrid have very tough matches.

    We do have the Derby but betis are struggling and we have had the beating of them in recent seasons. Hopefully it continues.

    Vamos Sevilla!! 🙂

  6. bilbao and villareal both knocked out of the EL. that’s too bad. would’ve liked to see them make a deep run to keep spanish tradition alive (and further inflate Spain’s world leading FIFA coefficient).

  7. wow. Ranieri was just sacked at Leicester…. not sure what to expect. new boss will have to focus on EPL, but for all we know this energizes and reimagines Leicester. I would’ve preferred a status quo (that is currently pretty bad). this seems like a bit of a wild card for us with three weeks before the next match.

  8. It’s all happening right now isn’t it? I’m still confident for the tie, with or without ranieri for them!

    However, we will see how they place in next few weeks before the game with us!

  9. Wow… didn’t expect that, at least not after the away goal and Leicester still in the tie.

    Definitely the new manager’s duty will be, save the ship from sinking, and that means 100% focus in EPL. I don’t see any potential manager with enough experience to do anything in the second leg in CL though. Any manager’s position would be kind of interim, with a contract till summer and an option for extension, that’s how I see it.

    About EL, a disgrace that both Bilbao and Villarreal (shocking 0-4 defeat first leg vs. Roma) are out. Celta the only ones still in it to save the face of La Liga, but I doubt they will overcome the 1-0 loss vs. Shakhtar. They will not go far after this to be honest, not the team to do wonders and EL surely misses Sevilla, but hopefully we’ll never get back there and always go as far as possible in CL. We need a new environment to become familiar with.

  10. Congrats to Celta for getting through. Hope they fly the EL flag high for us.

    Interesting on the sacking of Leicester manager. I don’t think this will impede us, if anything it will lessen their focus on the CL as the new manager will have focus on EPL as the champions league isn’t their spot, as it was for the current(former) manager.

  11. definitely a big congrats to Celta. glad we have a likable team to root for in EL.

    im not sure about this “focus on EPL” argument for Leicester though. we are talking about a single match. i’d think that there is enough money at stake that even a new manager whose primary focus is EPL will go pretty hard at coming back in that tie. especially when all they need is a 1-0 win at home, a fairly modest task, as far as results go.

  12. Clearly panicking about being relegated from the top table has triggered this I must say I’m shocked by the timing of the sacking of Ranieri, it seems past success counts for nothing in football now.

    1. A fairytale with a sad ending as it seems. Looking up the comments at the Leicester forum, the fans are divided with many wanting Ranieri out, but after last night’s glimpse of hope, many changed their minds (that’s football, and that’s life).

      It’s a pity that they didn’t give him time at least till the end of the season, as Ferdinand and Neville were saying, Ranieri won the EPl with a bunch of average players (except Kante). Also, regardless of their easy group, they topped it and went on to be in the list of 16 best teams in Europe.

      I sense that after a string of poor results and no more motivation of the overrated bunch of averages, the players should be ashamed of themselves for betraying such an icon for them. If it wasn’t for Ranieri, they’d still be no ones trying to get a deal in Southampton or similar.

      Ranieri also had the luck that some managers like Zizou have… and now they’ve lost it. I really hope Sampaoli cuts the coward tactics crap and set up something that will actually destroy Leicester in the return leg. They’ve lost all my respect for not respecting their king that brought them glory, such fools. Oh and I hope they get relegated too!

  13. I am a Leicester fan (in peace!) and the original article I’m afraid is wrong when you say ‘surely we can’t be playing this badly in three weeks’! We’ve been terrible all year – with no real sign of improvement. Our only hope is that the new manager can force the team to get back to old mentality – hard work & defending for the team.

    On Sevilla – surely the best team I have seen us play since Chelsea in 2013/14. Strong, dominant & skilful. Epitomised by Steven Nzonzi – it is no exaggeration to say that he is the best midfielder I have seen play other than Ngolo Kante. He wins everything in the air and cannot be knocked off the ball.

    For us to come out of that game with a 1 goal deficit is a miracle in itself – with the help of Schmeichel & the woodwork we’ve managed to stay in the tie. I wish all the fans travelling to Leicester in three weeks all the best – your City was wonderful – your Police not so. However – this does not take away the fact it’s universally agreed among Leicester fans that Sevilla had the best team & the best City of our four European games!

    Good luck for the rest of the season (apart from three weeks time!)

    1. Thanks for stopping by man.

      Really disappointed that you got rid of Ranieri, but that’s the modern world of football as it seems.

      Good luck in staying up in the EPL, but to be really honest I don’t see you guys getting anything on the second leg with the quality you already have in the team. It’s not about determination, your players ran a helluva lot that night, tried their best but that’s all the capability. Without Kante, Leicester is not the team it used to be, and surely, there is no more “miracle motivation” and Ranieri was the only one that could ever bring that to Leicester in my opinion. I’m afraid you will get back to being a modest team like in the past, only my opinion though.

      Is Mancini favored for the spot now?

      1. Thanks for the well wishes.

        We did run a lot in that game – but the quality was so low. There is quality in the team. I agree we won’t get anything from the second leg – but there’s hope. If we pick our strongest back 4 & Mahrez produces some magic – I don’t see why we can’t at least score!

        Mancini is rumoured to be wanted – but sounds like he doesn’t want the job. I don’t blame him – who would come to our club? We’ve just sacked a man who won the Premier League.

      2. Yeah… it’s a high-risk job. I guess the best would be to get that Pearson guy, as the players seem to want him also (as rumored from the press, not always accurate).

        Mahrez was absolute class last season, not sure what happened to him now. Vardy showed signs that he can be there when needed in the box. When I’m saying you don’t have a chance, I refer more to the fact that Sampaoli will deploy some “safe-and-sound” tactics and kill the match off like against Lyon or Juve, and get a goal or two the way we did in the first match… some Jovetic gymnastics and that’s it.

        As a fan of the open game of football, I really wanted to see both teams create a lot more chances, but it seems that keeping it safe is the way both teams decided to go, and I don’t expect anything different in return.

    2. thanks for stopping by and for the kind words. im less confident than shendm… there is a lot of work to be done. and leicester certainly could surprise us. you only need one goal. and then, if we struggle to finish (as we sometimes do) we could findourselves on the outside looking in.

      i dont think that is likely, but im certainly not going to rule it out. especially if your new manager, as you suggested, inspires more grit, cohesion, and simplicity in your game.

      anyway, will be exciting regardless and hoping leicester gets it together and stays up in the EPL.

  14. Pareja back for the derby tomorrow. Lenglet out due to injury and Vietto left out on technical decision. Ganso not even mentioned… not sure what he’s still doing here.

    Full list: Sergio Rico, Soria, Mariano, Carriço, Rami, Mercado, Pareja, Escudero, Kranevitter, Iborra, Nzonzi, Nasri, Sarabia, Vitolo, Vázquez, Correa, Ben Yedder and Jovetic.

    1. amazing how far vietto has fallen. while he clearly didn’t dominate and make himself the undisputed starter, he didn’t do badly either. and Ben Yedder has had a recent dip in form too… would’ve thought Vietto could feature in this match.

  15. Ah Julien Escude, what a waste of a shirt he was.

    This derby will feel a bit flat with no Sevilla fans in the stadium.

  16. I’m happy that pareja is back. We back to full strength, lenglet injured but bar that we have everyone fit. Let’s hope we get the 3 points against betis and pile the pressure on Barca and Real Madrid! Vamos Sevilla!!! 🙂

  17. I forgot to say if we do win tomorrow we will go top! As it’s head to head that overrides goal difference and even though we only played once it still counts as head to head. Great chance to go top overnight! I don’t think we did that since 2007 and same we not been top after a round of games since 2007! It will be require Barca and Real to both lose and us to win for that to happen but who knows? 🙂

    1. Now I’m wishing more that Barca drops points. RM are definitely out of form and they cannot count on luck too much, but Barca have Messi and the cunt Neymar who can get penalties like in the last game, undeservedly. The best scenario this week would be if we win, Barca loses or draws and RM loses or draws…. oh the joy that it would be!

    1. Hmm… this video tells a lot of things. Sarabia was right, he should’ve taken it, he’s the expert penalty taker. If not, Jojo should’ve definitely had it, deserves a shot from penalty after even Nasri and Iborra tried. What’s positive about the outcome is that Jojo was still motivating Correa and not blaming him or anything… that is something only a player with a strong character does.

      It was one of the poorest penalties I’ve seen nonetheless, however, Correa made up for it with that goal. For future reference, and to resemble a serious club after all, the penalty taker should be decided before the match and any word spoken after that, straight fine from the club. Or else, we’re going to have problems as a penalty is often a miraculous gift so we shouldn’t let it slip just like that from our hands.

    2. i would add that taking a PK well requires confidence and focus. being distracted and having extra pressure while taking a penalty because of a dispute over who takes it will only hurt a shooter’s chances. you don’t want to be thinking “now, id REALLY better make it since i stuck my neck out and my teammates will kill me…”

    3. Jovetic looks like a future captain from that video. We have to pay his clause at the end of the season.

  18. Chris that is the tv chan I saw it on re my earlier post, the live transmission did not show it. Thanks for putting up the link now everyone can see what I was talking about.

  19. Well I can hear Sevillistas with the window open, sounds like a hundred or so have got to the Betis ground and it could well mean trouble. They’re not allowed in because the visitors section is under reconstruction. This game means everything to Betis, it’s the only thing they have left this year, the chance of winning Sevilla. They are going to throw everything at Sevilla and that’s a double edged sword that might work against them.