Deportivo – Sevilla Analysis

An emphatic final 10′ from Sevilla set the day right after a frustrating 85 minutes found them down 2-0 at one point and generally failing to find a way through, around, or over a professional Depor side. Two goals, Vitolo at 86′ and Mercado at 92′, cemented Sevilla in the Champions League places. You wonder what kind of character this team has at some moments of dull possession with few chances, but then we hit 5 of our 7 shots on goal in the final 10′ and you get a better idea of how strong this team’s sense of self is.

The match started as poorly as possible for Sevilla and for Ganso, who slipped in possession giving Depor a running cross to Babel, whose backpedaling created enough space for him to send a bounding header inside the post as the clock ticked 1:00. Rico could not reach-o. The next 25 minutes were all Sevilla (with at least 75% of the ball) and culminated in a deft taconazo from The Goose to send Sarabia clear on goal, only to have Tyton’s pesky shoulder get in his way. It was the first clear breakthrough behind the Depor defense.

When I say Depor played a “professional” game, I mean they got an extremely early lead and proceeded to push all their chips in on a 1-0 victory. They stacked 7 players around the edge of the box and left us to prod for weaknesses. Given that we started without arguably our three best playmakers (Vitolo, El Mudo, Nasri), it was the wrong match to give up a first minute goal. That being said, Ganso found chances to make an impact (that went unrewarded), Sarabia delivered dangerous free kicks into the area, and Kranevitter held the space well behind Nzonzi’s attacking forays. These three will be crucial to our three-front campaign later in the season, so it was great to have them in the position of putting us a few inches here and there away from being a couple goals up. Kranevitter controlled the ball well, won some decisive battles, and recovered the ball in some key moments for the team. He should continue to improve especially when balanced against Nzonzi’s all-world control and calm.

Speaking of Nzonzi, he did have some poor moments today. Two turnovers late in the first half were uncharacteristic of the player who might be our best of the season so far. The second of these misplaced passes wound up at the boots of Andone, who nutmegged Pareja and ghosted between Carriço and Kranevitter before dinking it over Rico. It was a terrific run by Andone and a cute finish, too. I won’t linger too much on the defending there, because I think anything more would have committed a penalty, and particularly because Nzonzi ran down and scored while Depor were still congratulating themselves. To see a guy who could have been hanging his head at 43′ instead of scoring shows some more of that team character we noticed all match long. Nzonzi’s (non)reaction to his goal signaled the team’s determination to show their true quality.


Vitolo’s entrance into the game for Carriço pushed Kranevitter into the back line after half. The shape held and Vitolo shined. It’s staggering to see how much one player can revolutionize the flow of a match, and Vitolo’s performance stands as a prime example to this. All of a sudden we were finding space on the left as defenders began ceding extra millimeters to one of the most in-form players in Europe. Escudero also benefitted from this, finding dangerous runs underneath the defense that Vitolo found to play him into the box time after time. One of the things I love about Vitolo’s play is the particular way he uses the end line to frame his runs. He has a tremendous ability to wait until the last instant, when the defender has bit on an earlier deke, to pass the ball or touch it forward along the line. He uses it like an indoor player uses the wall-instead of limiting his possibilities, it adds to them. Example:


As the anxiety ratcheted up in the 85th minute, the team worked an astounding series that concluded with Vitolo finding himself alone at the back post for 2-2 at 86:30. This was legitimately an entire minute of possession inside their box as well as an absolutely transfixing sequence of plays with failed clearances, scraps for possession, through balls, and crosses agonizingly out of reach that eventually drew deep, red blood.

Mercado’s unequivocal finish on the back post after a deflected corner sealed the 2-3 victory at 93′. I mentioned it earlier, but it’s hard to overstate that we had 7 shots on goal today and five of them came after the 85th minute. It was relentless, withering, and finally Depor did both relent and wither. Collapse for Depor; euphoria for Sevilla. Get crazy, everybody! Take off your shirt halfway or something!


Back to that character piece, because let’s live there a little longer: there have been 25 goals scored after the 85th minute in La Liga this season, and Sevilla claim six of them (via @TimDCollins). That’s 1/4! And two times we have scored twice after the 85th to win. Two times! These late goals have won us 10 points; without them we would be tied with Betis in 13th place with 14 points. I don’t recall many if any times Emery’s teams found a way to dig out late points like this. It speaks to Sampaoli’s insistence in dominating, controlling, and imposing our will on other teams that they so frequently atrophy to the point of conceding in the last minutes of a match. I hope we can keep it up, but I think we would all just as equally appreciate having not needed to be in that position. The reality is that we play a style of football that puts us on the forward foot where we will most likely score more goals while also making it more probable that we concede them, too.

We expected a wild, unpredictable season and so far our hopes have been met with furious fucking grit by a Sevilla team solidifying its identity and resolve weekly. Get ready, Juve!

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Comments 24

  1. So much to talk about I forgot to even think about this being a massive result away at El Raizor to come back from 0-2. So huge!

  2. Great breakdown. Only thing I disagree with is Sarabia’s set pieces. Other than the one that Nzonzi should have buried in the first half, pretty much every corner or free kick either didn’t get past the first defender or was hit directly out of play. A lot of wasted opportunities given how many corners we drew.

    1. Post

      Thought he had more than one well-placed free kick. Some corners weren’t great, i agree. I just like him a lot and am willing to overlook the bad : )

    2. Yeah I’m a big fan too. He’s definitely the top candidate to emerge next year as a guy one of the super clubs steal from us for 30 million euros. I’d like to see him get a couple of starts within the regular starting 11 in place of Mudo, since Mudo is kind of marginalized when he’s forced to play on the wing. Maybe let Mudo be the creative fulcrum in one of our rotated lineups and see if he can rekindle the magic he had at the beginning of the season.

  3. Great post Aaron!

    “there have been 25 goals scored after the 85th minute in La Liga this season, and Sevilla claim six of them ”

    wow. that’s an insane stat. and agreed i loved N’zonzi’s pissed off non-celebration.

    what a massive match midweek against Juve. a tie guarantees we go through to the next round. a loss, and we could end up in the Europa league. a win would clinch first. its actually not clear to me that finishing first would be better for us depending on how different groups finish since, right now, bayern, man city, and PSG are all looking to finish 2nd, and if we end in second we could not match up with atleti, barca, or RM (though RM trail dortmund at the moment). tons at stake.

    sociedad seem to be sticking around. they keep winning and are just 2 points in back of us. meanwhile, bilbao are leading late against villareal, but i expect both of them to be in the chase for 3rd/4th until the finish. we’re playing well, but even still we have absolutely no separation in the pursuit of champs league spots.

  4. Nice recap Aaron, enjoyed it.

    Hoping we can at least hold on to a draw with Juve if we won’t go all in and beat them. Juve have a lot of individual quality and are great on paper… recently they’ve not been in a great form, but it will definitely be a top derby. I’m afraid of their luck as they tend to have a lot… and a defeat would really be close to fatal… as I’m pretty sure we will unavoidably lose in Lyon. In that case…. EL, wait for us our love!

  5. A good analysis of the game. However I’m surprised you didn’t mention how lucky we were to still have
    Mercado on the pitch to score the third goal after he clearly pushed Andone over in the area late in the 1st half. The ref should have given a penalty and sent him off. Thankfully he missed seeing it, otherwise we could have easily been trailing 3-1 at half time.

    A massive game coming up on Tuesday confirmed by the fact that all available tickets on sale to the general public sold out within 8 minutes on Friday, guaranteeing yet another full house. I was very lucky to get one.

    1. Damn… really? Only 8 minutes? You gotta have a fast network connection and a lot of luck. Glad that you got the ticket.

  6. True it was in my notes but didn’t fit the flow I had going. Glad you mentioned it. Was a judgement call penalty-some given, some not

  7. Here’s my January wishlist:

    1) Krycho – he’s started just 4 games for PSG this season
    2) Bacca – for some reason out of favor at AC Milan despite playing well
    3) Vidal – we all know there are major issues there

    Sound good to you guys? Seems like a reasonable set of request. While we’re at it, lets bring Kanoute back as an assistant manager as well.

  8. Great post for a Great Win! I’m sure will be one of our most important wins of the season. I agree Rene, if we resigned those players we would certainly in with a shout of CL!

    Mercado has been a great buy and Sarabia. Things are starting to fall into place. We just need a direct, hard player upfront like Bacca to lead the line again.

    Why isnt Krycho playing much at PSG? Excellent remarks by Nasri, Sevilla really is the place to be right now!

    1. Nice. We have less attacking threat from them now… however, they’re still dangerous on paper with the likes of: Pjanic, Mandzukic, Marchisio, Cuadrado etc.

      With out without their key players, we will still be able to beat them anyway. Their defense is strong, but all it takes is one moment of excellence, just like in the match vs. Atletico.

      We need at least a draw tomorrow night and we’re through to a historical CL run (fingers crossed).

  9. great report aaron, and so pleased we got ANOTHER AWAY WIN!!!

    really looking forward to Juve game although I might have to miss it as working away from home, and I doubt many pubs will be up for showing our match 🙁

  10. Do we miss someone else apart from Nasri for tomorrow night? Everyone is fit, not suspended (ready to play)?

    1. The list: Sergio Rico, Sirigu, Escudero, Pareja, Mariano, Kranevitter, Carriço, Mercado, Iborra, Vietto, Nasri, Correa, Ben Yedder, Kiyotake, Nzonzi, Rami, Sarabia, Mudo Vázquez, Ganso y Vitolo.

  11. Probably biggest day of the season for us, I hope we snatch a draw. You always have chance against teams like Juve and atletico, reason is they don’t score much and no matter how strong is anyone’s defence 1-0 lead is never enough, you score a goal against such teams and they’re already feel defeated.