El Centrocampista

HONOURS EVEN IN THE BATTLE OF THE PRETENDERS – Sevilla 1-1 Atletico Madrid Tactical Analysis


Two Champions League hopefuls locked horns at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Saturday night as Sevilla took on Atletico Madrid.

The home side knew a win would help make ground on Malaga in fourth place, while Atleti were also chasing fourth and looking to continue their renaissance under coach Diego Simeone. Unfortunately, neither could take full advantage.

Atleti have been in fine form under Simeone, while Sevilla were also under new stewardship too, after former Getafe manager Michel was installed in the Sevilla hot seat just a few weeks ago. Both managers will have been cursing their luck as main strikers Alvaro Negredo and Falcao were ruled out for either side.

A common system now used in Spain, both sides lined up in with a 4-4-1-1/4-2-3-1 system, but Atletico’s options were diminished with the unavailability of Falcao, playmaker Diego and winger Arda Turan, so Koke took up his position on the left and Eduardo Salvio on the right. For Sevilla, former Atleti winger Jose Antonio Reyes lined up against his former employers, whilst Fredi Kanoute was used just off Baba Diawara. The fact is that Kanoute has lost what little pace he had, so often finds himself dropping deep to make full use of his lack of pace.

 Sevilla started the brighter, but Atletico were compact with 3 men in the midfield and Koke tucking inside. And it was from that left side where Atleti took the lead, Adrian Lopez drifting inside to cross, and Salvio drifted inside of Fernando Navarro to guide a flicked header past Palop and into the corner.

Salvio had another chance later on in the half, but Atleti were able to stifle Sevilla far too easily. Michel’s side were too one dimensional, too one paced and were causing a stubborn Atletico no problems. With Juanfran out of position at right back, I was surprised Sevilla didn’t try to exploit him more – especially with Salvio in front of him expected to support Adrian and doing less backtracking than his midfield counterparts. Everything was infront of the Atletico defenders as Baba and Kanoute showed a lack of pace or running to get behind the back 4, so they rarely looked troubled in the first half.

Atletico’s watertight defence seems to be a direct result of Simeone’s appointment. Upon his arrival in Madrid, Simeone carried a tag with him of being a very defensive coach. He liked to be tight and not allow the opponents any chances to score.

I cast my mind back and remember Atletico receiving a battering in Barcelona just before Gregorio Manzano was sacked – although it wasn’t the opponents you’d think. It was Espanyol who doled out a thumping, one of the lowest scoring teams in the league. It was a sign that they had to get tighter in defence, and Simeone’s team showed how difficult they are to break down.

The midfield trio of Mario Suarez, Tiago and Gabi were outnumbering Medel and Rakitic, really nullifying the creative influence Rakitic which just prevented any attacking threat down the middle, and it was easy for Atletico to keep a clean sheet during the first half.

After the break though, Sevilla really upped the ante and went at Atletico from the off, though it turned out to be a mistake from one of their own players that gave them a goal.

From a wide free kick, Reyes gave the ball away and Atletico led a counter attack. Salvio was tackled and from the attack, new signing Baba Diawara swept the ball home with aplomb from the edge of the box after good work from Jesus Navas down the right.

After that, Sevilla were definitely the team in the ascendancy and substitute Manu del Moral had the ball in the net – only to see the flag raised. Atletico’s forays forward became few and far between, and instead they seemed to settle for a point late on as Sevilla pushed for a winner.

In the end, I think both teams will be disappointed with the 1-1 draw. Sevilla had the better of the second half and could have easily won the game, but Atletico will also feel they could’ve kept their 1-0 lead during the second half. On the balance of the game, a draw was probably a fair result, but both teams look like they don’t quite have enough to break into the top four of La Liga.


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