The Argentine coach is back at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán and likes his teams to play on the front foot.
The Sevilla FC squad have been working under Jorge Sampaoli for several weeks now, with a record of two wins, three draws and two defeats from his seven games so far. The Argentine coach, who had an impressive season in charge of Sevilla FC in the 2016/17 campaign, overseeing a credible title tilt before finishing in fourth place, was appointed for a second spell in the first week of October after the club parted ways with former coach Julen Lopetegui.
In his first match, a 1-1 draw against an Athletic Club side that was third in the table at the time, Sampaoli already made some striking changes and decided to bet on experience over youth, particularly in defence. Kike Salas and José Ángel Carmona, both aged 20 and promoted from the academy to the first team this season by Lopetegui, dropped to the bench while summer signing Marcão made his debut after recovering from injury, starting at centre-back alongside Tanguy Nianzou, the only defender to keep his place in the team. The coach also opted for experienced attacking full-backs Gonzalo Montiel and Alex Telles.
Since then, he has carried out several other experiments: in three of his seven matches in the Sevilla FC dugout, he has used a back three and, in the others, he has used a back four. Plus, he has sent the team out on several occasions without an offensive reference, instead moving Erik Lamela and Isco around and into the false nine positions.
Lopetegui’s spell at Sevilla
After his Spain and Real Madrid spells ended abruptly, Julen Lopetegui redeemed himself at Sevilla achieving international success.
Sampaoli doesn’t yet know his best starting line-up and only Nemanja Gudelj has played every minute since the Argentine’s return. The Serbian has played as a centre-back and as a midfielder and seems to be the player Sampaoli trusts the most at the moment.
Isco has also played a lot under the new coach, which is why it is such a blow that he will miss El Gran Derbi due to a yellow card accumulation suspension. The man from Málaga was booked in the second half of the 1-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano last Saturday and will have to wait to make his debut in El Gran Derbi.
Overall, the main improvement with Sampaoli’s Sevilla FC has been in defence, as they’re conceding 1.0 goals per game with him on the bench, compared to 2.1 before his arrival. But, there is still work to be done offensively, and Sampaoli wants his team to attack in a more disciplined manner.
As Sampaoli said after the defeat to Rayo Vallecano: “The team was imprecise and disconnected in various facets of the game. Then, we tried in an anarchic way. Why didn’t the team win? It’s because we were playing desperately, losing the essence and shape and assuming that we’d find what we couldn’t achieve through our play by throwing more people into the offensive lines. That’s where the mistake was. Nothing can be achieved in an anarchic way. It has to be done by the way we play and today the team didn’t have that.”
During Sampaoli’s previous spell in charge of Sevilla FC, there was a clear organisation in the team’s attack and there have been glimpses of this in other games this year, such as in the 3-0 win over FC København. Now the coach will be hoping that the defence remains solid and that the attack clicks into gear in El Gran Derbi.