Sevilla’s last 12 trips to the Bernabeu leading up to today’s match have been woeful. The Andalusian’s haven’t won in any of those trips, and in recent cases, have been blown away completely.
Today Julen Lopetegui — making his return to the Bernabeu — got a lot of things right that his predecessors in the past didn’t. Sevilla pressured Real Madrid the way Atletico did (and Valencia didn’t) in the SuperCopa. ZIdane’s men found it difficult getting into the opposing half, let alone final-third. Toni Kroos and Marcelo, two of the team’s most important offensive creators throughout the years, were limited to touches far away from goal, and any time Marcelo got into the final third (rare), Sevilla locked him down.
The only offense Real Madrid had going for them in the first half was Luka Modric taking it upon himself to dribble past defenders and break lines. On the few times he did, Real Madrid found space, but there was no end product beyond that. Lucas Vazquez did not have any noteworthy touches, Rodrygo was isolated and his passing in transition wasn’t good. Luka Jovic was even more isolated that Rodrygo.
It should be noted that for all the good that Sevilla did defensively, Real Madrid punched back and limited Lopetegui’s attack. Both teams packed the flank. Sevilla always does, anyway, and Zidane answered the call by putting Lucas Vazquez on the right to help Carvajal defend Sergio Reguilon and Franco Vazquez. Carvajal and Reguilon went back-and-forth dispossessing each other. On the opposite side, as much as Sevilla took Kroos and Marcelo out of the game, Real Madrid suffocated Sevilla’s flank any time Jesus Navas or Munir got the ball.
This game needed something. At half-time, Zidane opted to keep Isco, Vinicius, and Benzema on the bench. It was unclear what would change. Then it became very clear: Casemiro went berserk:
Jovic with the back heel and that casemiro finish life doesn’t get much better than this pic.twitter.com/fsIYjjx5Yk— Sami (@SamiZaiiin) January 18, 2020
Jovic’s pass to Casemiro was great, and Casemiro’s finish and ability to bounce off two defenders was slick. That’s not an easy goal — but that’s what it was going to take the break the deadlock today.
The party for the opening goal only lasted seven minutes after which Sevilla equalized after a series of fortuitous bounces and desperate defending:
DE JONG GOAL SEVILLA 1-1 MADRID FOLLOW FOR LIVE GOALS pic.twitter.com/oOjhGbOPa8— HD GOALS LIVE (@HDGoalsLive) January 18, 2020
Not that either team was running away with this match, but De Jong’s equalizer did come against the run of play. After Casemiro’s goal, Real Madrid started to find more space, and Vinicius Jr’s entrance onto the pitch was highly conducive to punishing Sevilla in transition. He was a spark plug on the left side as Jesus Navas pushed up the pitch and left his center-back, Kounde, to get burned by Vinny over and over again.
Casemiro restored the lead five minutes after De Jong’s equalizer:
CASEMIRO 2nd GOAL REAL MADRID 2-1 FOLLOW FOR LIVE GOALS pic.twitter.com/t3hmbBHKue— HD GOALS LIVE (@HDGoalsLive) January 18, 2020
This was a fun game, with a lot of tactical wrinkles, which we’ll break down in much more detail, particularly on the post-game podcast.