Sevilla 2-0 Roma: Five things to take as Lopetegui’s team book a place in the Europa League quarterf
Sevilla booked their place in the quarterfinals of the 2019/20 Europa League at the expense of AS Roma on Thursday, leaving the Italian side to pack their European efforts in and start planning for the next season. The final score was 2-0 and Roma can consider themselves lucky.
Deserved victory for Sevilla
The first and most obvious thing that should be said about this match is that Sevilla fully deserved to go through. They were in complete control of the proceedings throughout the contest, if contest is the right word.
Julen Lopetegui’s team pushed forward from the start and kept the ball deep in the opposition half until Sergio Reguilon’s opener in the 22nd minute. Roma then changed their approach and moved to attack in their turn, but it only got more difficult for them with Sevilla completely prepared to absorb their best efforts and hit them back on counterattack. The second goal, scored by Youssef En-Nesyri in the 44th minute, was a perfect example of that.
Roma slow in defensive transition
What En-Nesyri’s strike exposed for all the world to see was the lack of proper reaction from Roma players when they lose the ball. It was deep in Sevilla’s half that Edin Dzeko got dispossessed, but one well-timed, as well as well-aimed pass from Sevilla midfielder Joan Jordan was enough to put several flat-footed opponents out of action.
Winger Lucas Ocampos was far too quick for Aleksandar Kolarov to chase, Roger Ibanez simply couldn’t get across in time to cover for the former Manchester City defender, and it was far too easy for Ocampos to rush past, look up and spot the run of En-Nesyri on the far post. It’s also worth noting that as En-Nesyiri crossed the halfway line, running forward to offer himself as an option to Ocampos, the eventual scorer was facing three defenders in front of him, but not one of them tracked his run properly.
Similar moments happened on several other occasions.
It wasn’t an easy night for the Bosnian striker. He always looked completely cut off from nearest support and was constantly under severe pressure from Sevilla’s centre-backs. Both Jules Kounde and Diego Carlos were relentless in harassing him, never letting him turn towards the goal. They also rarely allowed him any benefit from a long pass, which is something Dzeko is usually very good at. But he was never a player with much pace, and at the age of 34, he certainly isn’t getting any faster, so Kounde and Carlos had little to fear marking him further up the pitch.
Some would, perhaps, argue that Dzeko would have done better had Lorenzo Pellegrini been playing behind him from the start. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Nicolo Zaniolo, who did play just off the striker, certainly tried hard to get him involved, but they too were closely watched throughout. Pellegrini replaced Zaniolo just before the hour-mark, but he made no notable contribution.