Dnipro v Sevilla - 27-05-2015

HOW THE MATCH WAS WON by Keith Scarlett

Europa League Final
May 27, 2015
National Stadium; Warsaw, Poland
Dnipro 2 - 3 Sevilla

Logically they were respected, but Sevilla wasn’t expecting such resistance from the Champions of the 3rd Division of Ukraine. Never-the-less, loaded-up and ready to fight, Dnipro caused problems for Unai Emery’s men, even though he still managed to show his superiority and win his second straight Europa League.

Here is what I thought were the key tactical aspects that played into the outcome of this match. What are your thoughts? Please let me know what you think and what other tactics you think were a factor in this match in the comments section below.

As the outsider of this final, the Ukrainian club began the match by imposing their physical will. The first minutes became an opportunity for Fedorchuk, Kankava and Rota to gauge themselves in facing the pair of Krychowiak and Mbia. All three were tasked with dealing with the Sevillian transition by blocking Banega or Vitolo Reyes when they move into the middle to provide outlets to their teammates.

Upon losing possession in their offensive half of the field, the Ukrainians are reactive in order to prevent Seville from counter-attacking.

Whenever the ball is lost in their attacking half, the three central midfielders become very aggressive to cut-off against any possibility of a counter-attack. By the time Seville makes the first pass of withdrawal, the Ukrainians are already repositioned in their 4-1-4-1 behind a lone striker in the center circle. The Seville defenders are left free, with their focus instead on their options.

When they have the ball, the Ukrainians were first seeking out the head of Kalinic trying to put the game away as quickly as possible. This hard work paid off since after a few lost aerial battles against Krychowiak and Mbia, the Croatian made the difference in the air facing Kolodziejczak. Accompanied by Matheus, who was brighter than Trémoulinas, he finished the opening goal off a service from Kalinic’s head ... and against the run of play, in the 7th minute.

With the ball, Dnipro was looking for Kalinic’s head. On the goal, the Croatian combined much better with Matheus than Trémoulinas, exploiting the space in behind the Andalusian side who were playing rather high.

Given how aggressive the Ukrainian’s are in the midfield, Sevilla opt first for a more direct game to "test" the central defense. Bacca is obviously the first player targeted by these deep balls served in by Mbia or Carriço.

The combination of being unsuccessful and conceding the first goal push the Andalusians to review their plans and come up with something else to offer. Several offensive circuits are developed. In the middle Banega drops back with Krychowiak and Mbia to facilitate more of a short game near the midline. This is supported by Vitolo or Reyes, who position themselves in the intervals between Ukrainian midfielders.

From the outset, the Andalusian play started and ended with their four defenders; Carriço, M’Bia, Kolodziejczak and Krychowiak. Here we see Krychowiak out wide and offsetting M’Bia which provides space for Carriço centrally. When needed they were supported by Vitolo and Reyes in the heart of the park.

If Sevilla decided to play direct anyways, then Vitolo and Reyes could push forward and be present for second balls.


When Sevilla decided to cross the midline with their short game, Reyes, Banega and Vitolo where the three primary pieces that made it happen.

The three midfielders allowed Seville to block their opponents centrally and force them to deal with Trémoulinas and Aleix Vidal on the flanks. The flank play is quite varied with more attacks going down their left side (through Trémoulinas) than their right. On Vidal’s side, the Andalusians enjoy the coverage that M'Bia provides to help keep possession of the ball.

…and that's How The Match Was Won!

I would love to hear your thoughts about this or other tactics of the match that were an important factor in its outcome. Let us discuss it below in the comments section.

What do you think?

HOW THE MATCH WAS WON by Keith Scarlett, Assistant Women’s Football Coach – Perth Glory FC, Australia, former U.S. Soccer National Staff, follow him on Twitter @keithscarlett and catch his personal blog, "An American Coach Down Under:" http://keithscarlett.blogspot.com

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