Arsenal’s Champions League squad is shaping up to be a curious one.
Mikel Arteta’s side, who are second in Group B, head into the third round, led by Ligue 1 strugglers Lens, while RDV leaders PSV have won 9 in a row and conceded just 3 goals. – The two penalties were – to start the Dutch campaign.
Then, enter Sevilla, and their inconsistency, to summarize the most unexpected groups.
150 days after Sevilla’s seventh Europa League title, things are more complicated than ever.
Sevilla parted ways with the 62-year-old on October 8, having sought help from La Liga veteran Jose Luis Mendilibar and embraced his brand of live football along the way from last season’s shocking slide. They will be hoping to start a confusing season that has gone from one extreme to the other for months now.
Mendilibar said his football philosophy, built on hard running and high pressure, has not changed in 29 years of coaching. His strength showed inspiration at Eibar, to record the ninth and 10th place of the smallest club in La Liga; And the same noise that initially inspired Sevilla, until it became clear that he couldn’t take the club much further than he held.
Looking at the parameters of the team during his leadership, the objectives of the system were clear. The team with the third-highest number of goals in the Spanish top flight has more goals than Sevilla, with only four teams taking more goals. But the average quality of those opportunities was the second-lowest.
It’s a collection of numbers that paint a picture of a manager whose teams thrive on the pitch while squeezing every last drop of fitness out of a team built to control the ball.
Nevertheless, Mendilibar created lasting memories at the club where he played in a way that was unknown to him.
A strong and disciplined high press in April’s Europa League quarter-final win over Manchester United 3-0, and Sevilla’s 63 clearances in the next round’s impressive win over Juventus. Penalty penalty kick in overtime win.
An average of 26.5 crosses per game during his stay – the most of any LaLiga club at the time – chaos in the final third was a favorite to dominate.
But that can also be exploited, as early season high-flyers Girona showed in August. With an emphasis on bravery in possession, head coach Michel asked his players to score at least two touches in the face of Sevilla’s press – winning the match 2-1.
They probably conceded 21 shots and conceded 13 times in their own defensive third, but they saw Girona press too often and eventually took all three points with good passing from the defence.
Especially against technically sound teams, Sevilla lacked that precision and their strength became predictable. And as they threw a further 50 crosses into the box that day, it became clear that Mendilibar’s commitment to his philosophy was beginning to produce desperate and chaotic football.
Although it is magnificent, the short-term solution has done the natural way.
So what now?
Following Mendeleybar’s bitter journey, Sevilla turned to former Uruguay head coach Diego Alonso, a coach with more progressive ideas but without the same bite.
The opener against Real Madrid was another Sevilla activity with a high-octane midfield battle, with challenges flying in from Boubakary Soumare, Djibril Sou and Sergio Ramos.
Sergio Ramos and Antonio Rudiger are a little closer today for comfort pic.twitter.com/JZ0lyoSerj
— Viaplay Sports UK (@ViaplaySportsUK) October 21, 2023
Still, the numbers told a different story, especially in terms of possession.
The overall completion rate of 90.3 per cent is higher than in 20 La Liga games under Mendeleybar, and the team has completed more passes in its own half (248) and has shown a desire to build carefully. The third.
In addition, Sevilla’s passing percentage is lower (9.2 per cent) than it was under the previous boss, while goalkeeper Orjan Niland completed six passes under 10 meters, as many as any Mandeliebar goalkeeper in seven months. Duration (7)
The pass net below shows Sevilla’s ease with the ball in midfield, even against the league leaders. Soumare frequently dropped in between the centre-backs, while the wing-backs were heavily involved in the sustained ball-kicking.
Mandibular methods do not leave completely — 26 shots into the box means Alonso’s side still look direct when the opportunity arises and Arsenal will need to be careful on Tuesday night.
So why not rock a player like Youssef N-Nessiri, who has more headers (106) and goals (15) than any other La Liga player since joining the club in January 2020? A few crosses for him to attack?
Sevilla is still caught between several identities – Unai Emery has been almost always since leaving the club in 2016.
But as a new era begins, under their fourth permanent manager in over a year, they remain a formidable force in the one-off game with a secret ability to produce European results.
Just like when they visit Lens, Arsenal will have to be wary of a team that knows how to get the adrenaline going on big nights.
El Clasico: Real Madrid and Barcelona’s tense week combination will not change.
(Top photo: Getty Images)