Despite losing winger Lucas Ocampos in stoppage time to a red card, Sevilla held onto their 1-0 lead that came courtesy of an Ever Banega penalty.
Banega had initially seen the penalty saved by goalkeeper Jordi Masip, but he was asked to retake the kick after Masip was found to have encroached off his line.
Otherwise, this was a match of few chances where Sevilla were able to handle the aerial threat of Valladolid and hold onto their lead.
Real Valladolid have stuck to a 4-4-2 system in recent weeks, barring their 5-1 loss to Barcelona in late October, and again utilised this formation against Sevilla.
The system places a lot of emphasis on the strikers working in tandem and former Sevilla man Sandro Ramirez came into the side to partner Sergi Guardiola up top, with Enes Unal moving to the bench after starting in their recent 3-0 loss to Deportivo Alaves.
In midfield, Pablo Hervias replaced Toni Villa on the right of midfield, while Fede San Emeterio cam in for Ruben Alcaraz in the centre.
Nacho Martinez replaced Federico Barba at left-back, but otherwise the defence was unchanged.
On the other hand, Sevilla made just one change with central midfielder Joan Jordan replacing Oliver Torres.
Jordan is a far more possessive player than Torres and will complete more passes deeper on the pitch although Torres is perhaps more of a final third threat.
This change was a clear indication Sevilla would approach this match differently to their most recent La Liga match against Real Betis.
This was borne out as Sevilla completed 100 more passes against Valladolid than they did against Betis.
Real Valladolid’s approach
Real Valladolid tended to favour a more direct approach and this was evident against Sevilla, with their best opportunities originating in wide areas.
Using Villa and Oscar Plano, their midfield wide players who were supported by their full-backs, Valladolid looked to cross early in attacking areas and isolate Guardiola against Sevilla’s defenders.
Valladolid also used set-pieces very deliberately to create space for crossing into the box.
Short corners were utilised too, with Hervias looking to set up opportunities for out-swinging crosses.
Without the ball, Valladolid looked to press Sevilla in possession with their strikers, but quickly dropped back into shape after Sevilla were able to bypass them easily.
Valladolid’s two banks of four would then drop back towards the edge of their penalty area out of possession in order to limit Sevilla space in behind.
With Valladolid committing plenty of men at set-pieces, Sevilla often had opportunities to counter-attack.
However, with Sevilla unwilling to push too many players forward and their ageing midfield lacking athleticism, Valladolid were able to cope.
While Sevilla began to sit back in the second half, Valladolid struggled to dictate play and create chances.
Their best opportunity came from a misplaced pass from Banega, which allowed Plano to break into space on the left-hand side.
Plano drove towards the edge of the box before crossing for Michel who shot wide.
Sevilla looked to dominate the ball in this match and this was clear from their selection and approach from kick-off.
With the ball, Sevilla players were reluctant to take risks and were often willing to retain the ball and look for another opening rather than play the ball forward quickly.
With three central midfielders that prefer to play deep, rather than connect with forwards, Sevilla managed just four shots in this game, but were able to score early on and restrict Valladolid well enough to still take victory.
Banega and Jordan would stay close to Fernando to give him an option at all times, but this left Luuk De Jong, Nolito and Lucas Ocampos isolated.
Even when Valladolid triggered an aggressive press early on, Sevilla continued to play out from the back, with their centre backs split, goalkeeper able to collect the ball and deepest midfielder dropped back.
With their midfield preferring to dictate from deep, Sevilla were able to press their full-backs high up in order to create attacks.
Both Sergio Reguilon and Jesus Navas registered more than 70 touches of the ball in this game, with Nolito only managing 18 in 67 minutes.
Heatmaps show that between Jordan and Banega, Jordan was far better at connecting further forward on the right side of the field and this helps explain Ocampos’ greater involvement than Nolito’s.
However, it was a Reguilon run that created the Sevilla goal, with an intelligent pass from Nolito allowing the left-back in behind the Valladolid defence.
Once on the edge of the area Reguilon crossed the ball into the box and Valladolid were unable to clear.
Nolito then looked to pounce on the rebound but was fouled by Javi Moyano in the process.
As a result, Sevilla were awarded a penalty that turned out to be the difference between the two sides.
Sevilla’s approach remained unchanged after going one goal up, with their midfield still willing to probe from deep without over-committing to attacks.
However, in the second half Sevilla became more willing to play long and replaced Banega with the more athletic Franco Vasquez on 75 minutes.
Sevilla also drew back their defensive line in the second half and started taking fewer risks when playing out from the back.
They were still able to dominate possession though, with Fernando dropping very deep to give his midfield partners an option.
This also gave Sevilla an extra man in defence to help deal with Valladolid’s attacks.
In a tight match, Sevilla were able to nullify the wide threat of Valladolid by dominating possession and refusing to commit too many players to counter attacks.
Valladolid did not have the guile to cut Sevilla’s defence open other than when the away side made an error.
Once Sevilla had secured an early goal, they were happy to play conservatively rather than push for another and with Valladolid lacking creativity this prove to be an effective tactic.
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