Sevilla took all three points away at Real Betis to move up to fourth place in La Liga. Ocampos and de Jong scored the goals for Sevilla, cancelling out the equaliser from Loren Morón. This tactical analysis will examine how Sevilla managed to overcome a struggling Real Betis side.

Lineups

Real Betis lined-up in a 5-3-2 formation, with Feddal, Mandi and Sidnei manning the middle of the defence. Alex Moreno and Emerson provided the width, while Marc Bartra came into midfield alongside Canales and Guardado. Loren Morón and Nabil Fekir partnered as strikers, with the latter playing as a false-nine.

La Liga 2019/20: Real Betis vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics

Sevilla came out in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Koundé and Diego Carlos partnering as centre-backs. Reguilón and Navas started as full-backs behind Nolito and Ocampos on the wings. Fernando and Banega took up the spots in deep midfield, with Torres ahead of them as the number 10. Luuk de Jong played as a lone striker for Sevilla.

Betis’ attacking woes

Real Betis really struggled to play-out from the back in this one, with the formation proving to be too compact, and providing little to no width in the side.

However, to start off with, Betis did well to play-out against a high Sevilla press. As we can see below, Betis looked to play-out in a diamond shape. This gave the home side stability against the Sevilla press, with Marc Bartra, a natural centre-back, able to drop deep to keep possession circulating at the back.

La Liga 2019/20: Real Betis vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics
Betis set-up to outnumber Sevilla’s high-press and push their wing-backs forward. A central focus is created to tighten this press, opening more room in the wide areas.

Guardado would offer more support in the middle, creating a central focus for Sevilla’s press, as they looked to cut the passing lanes into Betis’ midfielders and false-nine, opening space in the wide areas for the Betis wing-backs.

This diamond served Betis well against a high-press, another example below Sevilla’s deep midfielders pushing high in a bid to support their press against the diamond. This played straight into the hands of Betis, as the wide-spread diamond opened up space for the midfielders to pull the Sevilla holding midfielders further in before playing in-behind them.

This set-up a couple of promising attacks, but Betis lacked numbers going forward, which was a let-off for Sevilla.

La Liga 2019/20: Real Betis vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics
Sevilla over-committed their high press which was being outnumbered time after time. The holding midfielders pushed too high, leaving space for Betis to pass directly into the forwards.

Sevilla could be let-off so many times before they adapted to their counterparts’ tactics, and soon enough, they would take advantage of Betis’ lack of numbers going forward, and their focus on the middle of the pitch.

Considering their own numbers of matching-up to their opposition during their play-out, Sevilla opted to sit-off and allow Betis’ back-three to have the ball. The midfield five sat behind the two supporting midfielders of Bartra and Guardado, therefore isolating the forward players such as Canales and Fekir, who were outnumbered in the midfield positions.

Meanwhile, the midfield were well placed to cover the wings should a long ball be played wide, as the full-backs were virtually un-occupied due to Fekir’s deep positioning.

La Liga 2019/20: Real Betis vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics
Sevilla sat-off from Betis’ play-out, instead they covered the middle where most of the danger was, while the wing-backs were ineffectual due to being out-numbered in the wide areas, contrary to the original plan, which was to strip the game to the individual battles on the wings.

Sevilla’s change in tactics off-the-ball meant that Betis were all-of-a-sudden struggling for options from the play-out. In response, more Betis jerseys dropped deep to receive the ball, which handed Sevilla a more effective high-press.

As we can see below, Sevilla’s block covers all short passing options without a pro-active press toward the ball. Nabil Fekir drops deep in a bid to support the Betis play-out, bringing a holding midfielder with him.

La Liga 2019/20: Real Betis vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics
Betis cut-off Betis’ options for a progressive pass, which then forces Fekir to drop deep to support the play-out.
La Liga 2019/20: Real Betis vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics
Fekir’s deep movement completes the cage on the ball, further isolating possession, leading to Sevilla winning the ball back in a high area of the field.

Fekir’s movement completes a cage around the ball without Sevilla doing the pressure work themselves, and therefore are put in a position of isolating possession without making themselves vulnerable in the process.

In another example below, Sevilla sit-off from the Betis play-out, approaching the back-three in a flat five, matching the Betis midfield while the striker presses the ball.

La Liga 2019/20: Real Betis vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics

As the ball is moved across the back-three, the Sevilla midfield forms a diamond in order to separate the Betis lines while covering the next centre-half and the passing lane into the Betis wing-back. Meanwhile, the linking players in the centre are covered, forcing a long-ball or backward pass to escape the high-press.

La Liga 2019/20: Real Betis vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics

Betis off-the-ball

Betis’ defensive tactics were based on deploying a wide press that was tight to the by-line while controlling the centre of the pitch, as the opposition move tight to the by-line to support possession.

As we can see below, Betis deploy their wide press on Sevilla’s full-back as they look to prevent an overload against the wing-back. Betis look to out-number the Sevilla players on the by-line while blocking passing lanes to the inside.The main objective of the wide press is to force the backward pass and continue their press in higher areas of the pitch, as we can see by the marker on the right-side of the block.

La Liga 2019/20: Real Betis vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics

In another example below, Betis’ formation turns to a back-four, as the right-wing-back pushes the ball in the wide area. Meanwhile, Betis man-mark Sevilla’s passing triangles, while the near-sided defenders provide further cover behind the triangular press. Betis look to put Sevilla in a position where a switch pass or long ball into Luuk de Jong is unavailable, forcing a turnover or a backward pass, which brings on further pressure.

La Liga 2019/20: Real Betis vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics

Betis look to did everything they could to cover Sevilla’s target man in de Jong, as they looked to completely out-number the Dutchman out of the game, however, Sevilla and de Jong would not be caged. This brings us onto our third and final piece of analysis

Sevilla make the breakthrough

Sevilla’s play-out began with their back-four spreading across the width of the pitch. This opened room for the full-backs, as Betis converted to a 5-2-3 formation when the ball was with the Sevilla defence.

The lack of numbers for Betis in the wide areas meant that if Sevilla played-out quickly enough, then they could exploit the openness of the wide areas before the press. The action had to be snappy, with the winger dropping deep to receive the ball before the full-back can come forward to overload the wing.

La Liga 2019/20: Real Betis vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics

Once Sevilla managed to play down the line, Betis will look to deploy their wide press. As we can see below,  Nolito comes inside, before playing the ball into de Jong, who is in the centre of the Betis cage.

La Liga 2019/20: Real Betis vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics

Once de Jong receives the ball, the Betis cage completely focuses on the Dutchman, leaving Nolito unmarked to make a run inside, while Reguilón recives no attention from the Betis cage. de Jong finds Reguilón with a quick pass, opening room for the cross. The Frenchman finds Nolito, who finds the space left by an over-committed wide press, with the Sevilla winger’s shot going wide.

La Liga 2019/20: Real Betis vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics

In another example, Betis look to split Sevilla’s play-out from the back, however, their block is over-committed, leaving space between the lines for oncoming midfielders.

La Liga 2019/20: Real Betis vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics

Sevilla, therefore, send the long-ball toward de Jong, who is supported by several by the oncoming runs from Nolito and the deep midfielders. de Jong holds up the ball before laying-off Nolito who attacks the inside. Sevilla use the wide target-man tactic to attract Betis into attempting a wide press before playing through the cage quickly.

La Liga 2019/20: Real Betis vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics

Once again, Betis’ defenders are dragged wide, with the focus being on the ball. Sevilla move the ball in and out of the cage, which left the left side open for de Jong to attack, opening another chance to cross the ball into the box.

La Liga 2019/20: Real Betis vs Sevilla - tactical analysis tactics

Conclusion

In the end, this game was rather scrappy, with the goals coming from individual battles and deflections. Despite this, both sides had clear plans on how to cancel each other out, which led to the match being decided by individual battles and second balls. Overall, the match between Betis and Sevilla lacked great quality, particularly in the case of Sevilla, who really lacked the final ball quality that their build-up deserved.


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Ciaran O'Hare

Writer/Analyst at FBA
Leeds United and Falkirk fan, podcaster and radio producer. I love to dive deep into the art of football tactics and the sport's greatest stories.
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