La Liga 2019/20: Sevilla vs Leganes – tactical analysis

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Sevilla narrowly beat Leganes in La Liga, keeping Leganes rock bottom of the league table, while Sevilla finished the weekend in third place. This tactical analysis will look into how Sevilla managed to scrape past the bottom side.

Lineups

Sevilla lined-up in a 4-3-3 formation, with Diego Carlos and Koundé manning the middle of defence. Either side of them sat Reguilón and Navas, with Joan Jordán sitting just in front of the back four. Banega and Torres completed the midfield three, while Nolito and Vázquez played either side of the lone striker, de Jong.

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

Leganes came out in a 5-4-1 formation, with Slovas, Awaziem, and Bustinza making the back three. Silva and Rosales took up the positions covering wide defence, with Braithwaite and Rodriguez ahead of the full-backs, while Recio and Pérez started in the middle of the park. En-Nesyri started as the Leganes striker.

Leganes lacking up top

In this match, Leganes were really lacking in going forward. The away side really struggled in transition, with oncoming support and creative play lacking from the green jerseys.

Leganes did have some positive movements going forward, with reverse passes opening up room on the counter-attack for Leganes.

These passes into oncoming runners from the wing-back positions stretched the Sevilla back line, giving licence to the far-sided wing-back to push forward, while the winger tucked inside to occupy the right-back who needed to fill in for the lopsided back four.

La Liga 2019/20: Sevilla vs Leganes - tactical analysis tactics
Leganes looked to hit Sevilla on the counter-attack, with reverse passes in the wide areas opening room for the switch and keeping possession while keeping the momentum of the attack

In this attack, Leganes play a reverse pass inside, giving Leganes’ wide players to attack the near-side, while the oncoming left wing-back could attack the space left by a stretched Sevilla back line. The stand-in strike partnership stretched the central defenders apart, as one is dragged to the ball in a bid to win the duel for possession.

What prevented Leganes from capitalising on this excellent counter was the lack of quality in decision-making, as the winger took too long to decide on whether to take on the defence or go straight inside with the pass.

La Liga 2019/20: Sevilla vs Leganes - tactical analysis tactics
The reverse pass followed by the switch from Leganes meant that Sevilla couldn’t cover all of Leganes’ dangers. Space was exploited right across the back-line and had more numbers been committed, and more quality existed in the side, perhaps the move might have been capitalised on

Sevilla deployed a wide press, knowing that Leganes offered a great threat down the wings. As we can see below, Sevilla looked to back Leganes up against the by-line in order to nullify their threat from wide areas with a four-man block between the winger and wing-back, and the supporting midfielder and attackers.

Because of Leganes’ overly defensive shape, Leganes were isolated out wide and were unwilling to risk the counter-attack to outnumber the Sevilla defensive block.

La Liga 2019/20: Sevilla vs Leganes - tactical analysis tactics
Sevilla isolate the Leganes wide advance with a four-man block, out-numbering either side of the attack, while the deep midfielder drops with the two centre-halves to cover the lone striker

Sevilla used a four-man high-press to rattle Leganes in possession, creating situational overloads in order to win the ball high up the field.

As we can see below, Sevilla pressed either side of the Leganes’ play out on the near side. The white jerseys from the midfield aggressively press the ball, with de Jong and Nolito dropping deep to support the press and block the backward pass.

La Liga 2019/20: Sevilla vs Leganes - tactical analysis tactics
Sevilla looked to panic Leganes in possession, particularly in the wide areas, weakening their support on the channels and allowing their full-backs to overlap and overload a weakened Leganes defence

Sevilla looked to win the ball in these areas so that the pressing support from the offensive players could turn and attack a weakened back three, with the gap between the defensive and midfield lines of Leganes. This brings us on to our next piece of analysis.

Leganes off-the-ball

Leganes’ defensive tactics had them hold a clear line ahead of the Sevilla build-up play, holding a high-line in order to keep Sevilla as far away from the penalty area as possible.

As we can see below, Leganes hold a compact line of four in the middle of the park, with Sevilla’s creative midfielders separated between the lines and possession being offloaded to the supporting midfielders before moving past the midfield four.

This left possession with a lack of support for the build-up, keeping Sevilla’s most dangerous players at arm’s length.

La Liga 2019/20: Sevilla vs Leganes - tactical analysis tactics
Leganes set themselves in a dense 5-4-1 formation, frustrating Sevilla’s midfield three, as they kept themselves compact with the back-five covering the wide spaces behind them

Leganes also deployed an aggressive wide press, but their defensive organisation was very detached. As we can see below, Leganes set up to outnumber Sevilla’s forward players in their banks of five and four.

However, Leganes’ lines are completely split with the Sevilla attacking setup spreading right across the pitch in order to stretch the defensive setup. Banega is met with a single marker, with too many Sevilla players ahead of him rather than bringing the midfielders further out to create larger gaps between the lines, playing into Leganes’ hands.

La Liga 2019/20: Sevilla vs Leganes - tactical analysis tactics
Leganes’ back-line is split into two blocks, both out-numbering the corresponding Sevilla positioning. Sevilla are too static in movement, making it too easy for Leganes to keep their wide press rigid

Leganes pressed in the wide areas in a block of four, often looking to outnumber Sevilla and their oncoming full-backs. Sevilla set to attack the green defence in threes, with the full-back pushing high with the winger while the nearest-sided midfielder would provide the support on the inside.

Leganes left empty spaces directly behind the wide press, while the middle is emptied of Sevilla jerseys, who are isolated from possession and, again, are too static in supporting their teammates in the wide press.

La Liga 2019/20: Sevilla vs Leganes - tactical analysis tactics
Sevilla are outnumbered in the wide position while leaving a huge gap between the press and the rest of the defence, which Sevilla were able to exploit

This huge break between sections of Leganes’ defence allowed Sevilla a way in. This brings us onto our third and final piece of analysis.

Sevilla make the breakthrough

Sevilla played Leganes at their own game from the play-out, taking the ball into the wide areas to attract an aggressive press before playing through the three-man press.

As we can see below, Leganes are looking to separate and isolate the near-sided full-back and centre-half from the rest of the back-four and supporting midfielders.

As Leganes’ press closes in, Joan Jordán drops into the defensive line while Banega also drops to support the play-out to out-number the Leganes press, opening room for the far-sided full-back and front three to attack, with the supporting midfielders able to offer oncoming options as the attack builds.

La Liga 2019/20: Sevilla vs Leganes - tactical analysis tactics
Sevilla attract Leganes’ wide press deep into their own territory before midfielders dropping deep support the play-out while weakening the Leganes block

Sevilla would then build through the middle, with one full-back initially coming inside to form a back three, allowing for Jordán to push further and form another line of three. Meanwhile, the far-sided full-back pushes high.

La Liga 2019/20: Sevilla vs Leganes - tactical analysis tactics
Sevilla built through the middle with a back-three, with one of the full-backs tucking inside while the other pushes on

When coming forward, Sevilla looked to stretch and squeeze the Leganes line, who are weakened by the quick Sevilla play-out. Leganes were overly eager to press the ball in the centre rather than look to slow the play down and set themselves to pick up every player 2 v 1.

Sevilla used this to their advantage on several occasions, squeezing the back line into the middle before playing angled passes into the wide areas for the oncoming wing-backs. A quick ball into the box had more options in the middle, with a more matched battle between Leganes and Sevilla jerseys.

Furthermore, Leganes then hurried toward the wide press, leaving the gap analysed previously for one of the attackers to fill in, giving an even better option to weaken the Leganes defence further.

La Liga 2019/20: Sevilla vs Leganes - tactical analysis tactics
Sevilla created a central focus, refraining from playing the ball into the wide areas, leaving gaps for the oncoming full-backs

Conclusion

In conclusion, Leganes lacked concentration in the crucial moments of this game, with the sheer mass of green jerseys in the box preventing the inevitable from open play.

Sevilla adapted well to Leganes’ setup and got what they deserved from the set-piece. Overall, this was a game where Leganes committed many in defence and few in attack, forcing Sevilla to push more and more bodies forward while adapting their formation to cover themselves well in the 3-at-the-back formation.


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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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