El Centrocampista

Defensive deficiencies add to five goal thriller – Sevilla 3-2 Mallorca: Tactical Analysis


Sevilla and Mallorca came into match on the back of similar starts to the season – both went unbeaten in their first five matches but then lost two in a row before meeting at the Sanchez Pizjuan on Monday evening.

Set Ups

Birthday boy Andres Palop started in goal for Sevilla with Fernando Navarro, Federico Fazio, Emir Spahic and Cicinho in defense from left to right. The front three played in a 4-3-3 setup. With Piotr Trochowski injured and Guy Medel suspended, manager Michel had to make changes in the center.

Hedwiges Maduro operated as the defensive midfielder with home grown youngster Jose Campana and Ivan Rakitic in the center. Up front, Alvaro Negredo controlled the middle with Jesus Navas on the right and Manu de Moral on the left.

The visitors countered with Dudu Aouate in goal and Pedro Bigas, Anderson, Pedro Geromel and Ximo across the back line. In front of the back four was another bank of four consisting of Michael Pereira, Tomas Pina, Andreu Fontas (on loan from Barca) and Victor Casadesus. Gio Dos Santos started in behind the lone striker and in form Israeli Tomer Hemed.

Sevilla Control

With Mallorca content to drop ten men behind the ball, it was easy for the home side to control the game from the outset. The islanders sat two banks of four in front of Aouate. Their four man midfield was narrow. This closed down the space in the center, but Sevilla just opted to play down the wings and overlap the fullbacks. Key in this distribution was Ivan Rakitic who played several long diagonal balls to the feet of Navas.

Cicinho and Jesus Navas down the right side was the most prevalent and dangerous area. Pedro Bigas struggled to stop the crosses from coming in because he was not well supported by the left sided midfielder Michael Pereira. This dominance resulted in a few shots early but nothing too threatening.

Having ten players behind the ball negated Mallorca from launching any counter attacks. Dos Santos and Hemed were isolated and starved for any touches. When Dos Santos did collect the ball he was harassed by Maduro. Long balls played by Mallorca were easily won by the 6 foot 5 inch center back Fazio.

Three Goals in Five Minutes

Twenty five minutes in, the match livened up due to poor defending. After winning a free kick at midfield, a short pass was played to Dos Santos who launched a perfect diagonal ball in behind the Sevilla defense towards the back post. Pedro Bigas made a run that looked organized on the training ground to catch out the ambitious attacking Cicinho. Bigas controlled the pass with one touch and chipped Palop.

Two minutes later, Sevilla responded. Moral stormed down the left and fired in a cross that deflected off the shoulder of Geromel and fell to Negredo who blasted the ball into the corner from ten yards. However, this equalizer was forgotten one minute later. Aouate launched a long ball which fell to Dos Santos. The Mexican laid it off to a forward charging Hemed who stormed through and finished to the far post.

Hemed has had a great start to the season after his recent move to Mallorca and took advantage of Spahic who failed to track the Israeli’s run.

Sevilla Dominate Once Again

After a frenetic five minute stretch the match settled down and Sevilla controlled once again. They ended up having 70% first half possession; a figure that only Barcelona could top, yet they were trailing in the match.
The second half followed a similar trajectory as the first. One reason Sevilla were unable to threaten the goal was the poor crossing into the box towards the big man Negredo. Finally, ten minutes into the half, Cicinho put a perfect cross in between the two Mallorca center backs and Negredo rose up and leveled the score.

The big striker was in fine form, winning the aerial duels but also showing his nimble feet and ballerina quickness when he played the ball on the floor. This dancing bear type skill set; a blend of physicality and technical skill makes him a unique striker in world football.

Although Sevilla drew level, they were still pushing for an equalizer. Immediately, Diego Perotti was brought on for Campana and he played on the left. Moral moved up top and the side morphed into a 4-4-2. This tactical switch resulted in the only real tactical intrigue in the entire match. The 4-4-2 could be a good option for Sevilla in the future. They play through the flanks and having two options in the box instead of one would enable the wide players to have more targets to aim at and less predictability would ensue.

The home side took the lead from a rather poor corner kick by Rakitic in the 75th minute. His corner was headed away at the near post, but Cicinho latched onto the loose ball at the top of the box and hit a sweet volley which was deflected which left Aouate exposed.

Mallorca brought on Javier Arizmendi for Dos Santos and tried to push for an equalizer. However, they never threatened Palop’s goal. This made for an inevitable final fifteen minutes in which Sevilla saw the game out.

Getty Images


After a great start to the season, Mallorca look headed for mid table. The islanders lack engine and drive from the midfield and rely on effort and intensity from defense to win them matches. This lack of quality will force them to rely on Gio Dos Santos for creativity. The Mexican has the skill but has yet to explode at club level.

Sevilla have a chance at Champions League qualification. The Sanchez Pizjuan is a tough ground to win at. Also, they play in a more direct style that is unique in Spain; quality wingers who swing in crosses for a big center froward. If they can sure up the defense and prevent lapses in concentration, they can cut out conceding elementary goals like the two they conceded tonight.

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