Germany hosted the final tournament of the Europa League. Sevilla and Inter Milan performed best there, so these two teams competed for the second most prestigious European club trophy in Cologne on Friday. Sevilla went into this match in great form. The Spanish team has not lost once in their last 20 matches. Their last defeat was on February 9 against Celta Vigo. Their last loss in the Europa League was on December 12, 2019, at the Apoel stadium. On the other hand, inter was not in as impressive form as their opponent but still did not lose 11 games in a row.
The only Inter started in their usual 3-5-2 formation without any personnel changes. This means that the back three consisted of Stefan De Vrij, Diego Godín and Alessandro Bastoni. Ashley Young and Danilo D’Ambrosio took the wing-back positions. The midfield line consisted of Nicolo Barella, Marcelo Brozovič and Roberto Gagliardini. Upfront were Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku, who scored a total of 37 league goals this season.
Julen Lopetegui stand almost the same line-up to the final match as to the semifinals. The only change was Luuk de Jong, who scored the winning goal in the semifinal and thus he started over Youssef En-Nesyri. So the starting line-up looked like this: Bono who showed a great performance in the semifinals starts in the goal. In front of him was a back four of Jesus Navas, Jules Kounde, Diego Carlos and Sergio Reguilon. The midfield trio were made up of players Joan Jordan, Ever Banega and Fernando. Lucas Ocampos and Suso took over the wings. Luuk De Jong played the centre forward role.
Antonio Candreva, Christian Eriksen, Victor Moses and Alexis Sanchez were substitutes for Inter. For Sevilla, it was Munir El-Haddadi, En-Nesyri, Nemanja Gudelj and Franco Vazquez.
Inter pressed in the 3-5-2 formation. The offensive duo Martinez-Lukaku usually tried to force Sevilla to play on one side or in the middle. Inter midfielders press the opponent’s midfielders man to man. When fullback of Sevilla has the ball, he was pressed either by the nearest midfielder with the wing-back cover the space behind him or by the wing-back with the midfielder cover the space in behind.
In the image above we can see the man-to-man pressing in midfield. Barella pressed Banega, Brozovič Fernando and Gagliardini Jordan. If one of the wingers jumped into the half-space, he was pressed by outer centre-back.
When the nearest midfielder went to press the opponent’s fullback, it meant that one Sevilla midfielder would become free. In that case, Inter’s centre-back step up to press him. This can we seen in the example below. Gagliardini press the fullback and centre-back Bastoni steps up to press the midfielder that become free.
Sevilla first phase of build-up
Sevilla build-up with deep full-backs and tried to create an overload in the middle of the ground. In the pictures below we can see Suso running into the right half-space. The ball goes to the deep fullback, who is pressed by the wing-back Young. This means that Gagliardini provided cover by pressing Suso. Suso then moves towards the line, creating space for Jordan, who has been left by Gagliardini. Bastoni can’t press him because he’s too far from him. So Jordan can turn and switch the play.
Below we can see another example of overload in the middle of the ground. Suso jumps into the midfield, to create an overload against Gagliardini.
Another way in which Sevilla tried to overcome Inter pressing was to exploit their man-to-man pressing in midfield. Sevilla’s midfielders rotated in various ways, trying to get the opponent’s midfielders out of position and create space in the middle of the ground. In the example below, we can see that Banega and Fernando ran closer to the defence, pulling out two Inter midfielders. Sevilla fullback is also pressed by wing-back of Inter and this creates a lot of space for Jordan.
Sevilla in the final third
Sevilla mainly used wing spaces when attacking in the opposition’s half. We can see this in the image below. Fullback’s played an important role here. They constantly supported wingers with their underlapping and overlapping runs. And by doing so lured the opponent’s players to the sideline.
In the example below, we can see that Ocampos immediately receives support from Reguilon. Usually wing-back, centre-back and nearest midfielder. And then is in the defence created gap that could be theoretically exploited by Ocampos.
The forward De Jong also played an important role here. His task was to pin the centre-back and increase the space for the player that running into the free space. We can se this in the image below.
At times, Sevilla only tried to combine on the wing, thus being able to create interesting set piece situations in these areas. And as we can see, they did it well when they scored two set piece goals from this area.
As mentioned above in this analysis, the fullbacks tried to support their wingers. But when no underlapping run could be done, the fullback remained lower and De Jong tried to pin the centre-back, creating one-versus-one situation for the winger. And Ocampos, whom we see below, did well in one-on-one duels. He won two of these two duels and was fouled twice.
Defensive phase of Sevilla
When Inter had the goal kick, two their centre-backs were in the box and third centre-back was on the edge of the box next to Brozovič. This means that wingers were ready to press centre-backs inside the box with a curved run, and De Jong and Banega attacked the players on the edge of the box.
In midfield, two midfielders of Sevilla pressed two midfielders of Inter, the third midfielder of Sevilla was in front of the centre-backs to create a overload against the Inter attackers.
Sevilla was aware of the enormous quality of the attacking duo Martinez-Lukaku and therefore always tried to outnumbered them. That’s why midfielders Fernando and Jordan jumped in front of the centre-backs, creating a four-versus-two overload. Martinez therefore had only 22 touches with the ball in this match. His seasonal average is 29.2 touches per game.
Inter tried to create space by rotations. Most often between centre-back, midfielder and wing-back. The midfielder goes to the centre-back place, centre-back goes wide and wing-back tuck inside to the half-space. this has sometimes caused confusion for Sevilla in their marking. In the image below we can see that Young pulled the full-back out of position creating space for Bastoni, who was replaced by Gagliardini. Unfortunately, the ball did not reach Bastoni.
Sevilla can rejoice in her sixth victory in the Europa League thanks to her great positional game. It was great success for Lopetegui after the dismissal from the Spanish national team and Real Madrid. Sevilla is playing exciting football under him, so we really look forward to them in next season’s UEFA Champions League and La Liga next season. Inter had a great season under Antonio Conte, so it’s definitely a big disappointment for them that they couldn’t win any trophies. But I’m not worried about Inter at all and I believe that some trophies will win next season.
- UEFA Europa League 2019/20: Inter vs Sevilla – tactical analysis - September 4, 2020