Real Madrid’s second big ‘away’ test of the season ends in disaster, as they fall to Sevilla by three goals. Though Lopetegui fielded a strong XI, his team were tactically outplayed, numerically outnumbered in key areas, were a defensive mess, and just could not penetrate Sevilla’s lines as they clogged channels Real Madrid would normally thrive in.
There weren’t really moments in this match where Real Madrid truly looked comfortable. At 0-0, they struggled to create chances or keep the ball for sustained periods. They conceded their first goal in the same space they’ve looked vulnerable all season — in the half-space between Ramos and Marcelo. Marcelo gave the ball away, and was late to react (or wouldn’t have gotten there in time anyway) to the run behind him. Ramos wasn’t in position to recover in time, and Varane, who was put in a difficult situation, opted to close the ball-carrier rather than the passing lane (when he should’ve done the opposite):
Andre Silva goal vs. Real Madrid (1-0). pic.twitter.com/9aHCtnV6hd— eazy (@acmilan_eb) September 26, 2018
Those warning signs didn’t go away, at any point, as all four members of the defensive line looked shaky. Real Madrid conceded a second goal four minutes later, when Lopetegui’s men were caught in transition on a high-line. Real Madrid aren’t unfamiliar with a high line in this season’s scheme, but they’ve been able to mop up interceptions and close down attacks with their counter-press and positioning in the past. Not tonight. No one could catch up to the in-form Jesus Navas, and no one reacted in time to Andre Silva’s attempt:
While Real Madrid were chasing the game, they weren’t creating any clear-cut chances as Sevilla packed Zone 14 — the central area just in front of their defensive line — with numbers, and showed no gaps in between their lines. All of Real Madrid’s chances came from long-range solo efforts from Gareth Bale or Toni Kroos. There wasn’t enough from Benzema and Asensio, who ghosted in this match in the final-third as Sevilla defended well.
The final blow came in the 39th from Ben Yedder:
GOL! Sevilla 3-0 Real Madrid (39’ Ben Yedder) pic.twitter.com/d1nZzPHpd4— Gol Video TV (@GolVideoTV3) September 26, 2018
Ben Yedder was kept onside in that sequence, and it was foreshadowed earlier in the sixth minute, where Ramos was out-of-sync with the rest of the defensive line; but Real Madrid dodged a bullet on that occasion as Ben Yedder missed his shot from a good position.
In the second half, Real Madrid grew into the game ever-so-slightly. Modric, who was in advanced positions all match, found himself on the end of a couple through-balls to get shots off. One of them resulted in a (correctly) disallowed goal. Gareth Bale also had a great chance to cut the lead to two goals, but Sevilla goalkeeper Vaclik (who’s been a revelation this season) pulled off a great stop to deny the Welshman.
This was not great, by any means. It was a bad performance where Real Madrid were outplayed by a better opponent. It was a bad result. It was a night of low chance-curation and heavy defensive blows that could’ve ended worse. Benzema and Asensio just couldn’t get going; the vertical outlets were sparse; the coverage was bad in transition; and Sevilla zipped everything up — breaking only a couple times before Vaclik came to the rescue.
Caveat that won’t make you feel better: Sanchez Pizjuan is not an easy place for Real Madrid to play in recent memory. On that note, something else that won’t make you feel better: The next match is against Atleti at home, which is also a very difficult match for Real.
We’ll break this down more in the coming hours.