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In the Zone: The case for Sevilla's defence

Sevilla conceded eight in their first three games, but there were positive signs at the back (and going forward) against Dortmund under new coach Jorge Sampaoli. UEFA's Technical Observer panel drill down into the detail.

In the Zone: Nianzou's changing role

Sevilla found a way to delay Dortmund's passage out of Group G on Matchday 4 with an encouraging performance under their new coach Jorge Sampaoli.

Dortmund 1-1 Sevilla: As it happened

A week after falling 4-1 to the same opponents on home turf, Sevilla benefitted in Dortmund from noteworthy displays by centre-backs Tanguy Nianzou and Marcão. In this analysis brought to you by FedEx, the UEFA Technical Observer panel highlights the work of Nianzou, in particular, who scored his first goal in the UEFA Champions League and caught the eye with his work on the ball, ensuring Dortmund goalscorer Jude Bellingham was not the only impressive young player on the pitch.


Highlights: Dortmund 1-1 Sevilla

0-1: Tanguy Nianzou (18)

Ivan Rakitić was the creator, whipping an inswinging, right-footed free-kick towards the penalty spot where Nianzou rose above the yellow shirts and headed the ball inside the right-hand post. It was not only his first goal in Europe's elite club competition but his first for the club he joined in the close season from Bayern. With it, the Frenchman became the youngest player to score for Sevilla in the Champions League at 20 years 126 days.

1-1: Jude Bellingham (35)

The sequence began at the feet of Gregor Kobel with Dortmund then working the ball forward up the left. Julian Brandt, breaking from halfway, played an important role in carrying the ball into the final third before laying off to Bellingham. He found full-back Thomas Meunier in space on the right and then got into the box to steer the ensuing cross past Yassine Bounou, with the help of a slight deflection off Nianzou.

Player of the Match: Jude Bellingham

The 19-year-old became the third teenager to score in four consecutive Champions League appearances, following in the footsteps of Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappé. His latest strike was in keeping with the way he troubled Sevilla by making runs in behind, though this was just one aspect of his performance which impressed the UEFA match observer.

On the reasons for selecting him as Player of the Match (the player's second successive award), the observer said: "Bellingham was strong in counter-pressing and regaining possession, a positive influence in possession, technically proficient playing between lines and involved in Dortmund's most positive attacking situations, making forward runs beyond the defensive line."

Bellingham reaction to Dortmund point

Team formations


Dortmund's 4-2-3-1 formation
Dortmund's 4-2-3-1 formation

The home side set up in a 4-2-3-1 shape in which Bellingham (22) played a significant role with his movement in both directions. The Englishman dropped deeper to receive balls in the build-up and equally – as mentioned above – looked to get into high pockets of space. Brandt (19), similarly, looked to receive balls higher up the pitch and his run was key in the lead-up to the equalising goal.


Sevilla's 3-4-3 set-up
Sevilla's 3-4-3 set-up

Sampaoli had gone with a back four for his first game against Athletic Club, with Nianzou partnering debutant Marcão. On Tuesday, however, he set his team up in a 3-4-3 as the homegrown José Ángel Carmona (30) joined Nianzou (14) and Marcão (23) in a defensive line bolstered out of possession by wing-backs Jesús Navas (16) and Marcos Acuña (19) as the shape switched to a 5-4-1 or 5-2-3.

This demanded plenty of defensive discipline and Sevilla achieved this limiting Dortmund to seven shots (with three on target) compared with 19 (with seven on target) a week earlier. When Sevilla had the ball, meanwhile, they morphed into a 4-3-3 as Nianzou stepped forward to join the two screening midfielders, Rakitić (10) and Gudelj (6), of which more below.


The focus here is Sevilla's new centre-backs. Neither Nianzou nor Marcão had played in the home defeat against Dortmund, the final game of Julen Lopetegui's reign. Indeed an injury sustained in pre-season meant that Marcão only made his debut last weekend in Sampaoli's first match since returning to Sevilla as coach. Yet the performances of both summer signings suggested that there are fresh solutions for Sevilla's defence after the departures of Diego Carlos and Jules Koundé.

From a defensive viewpoint, both Marcão and Nianzou showed their effectiveness in one-v-one situations: Nianzou contested ten duels with an 80% success rate, Marcão 11 with a 72.7% rate. In the case of Nianzou, it was not just his defensive qualities which stood out. As the video above shows, he offered Sevilla an important option in possession.

In the first clip Sevilla switch between a 5-2-3 out of possession to a 4-3-3 once in possession, Nianzou receiving the ball in a defensive midfield position with the centre-backs on either side, Carmona and Marcão, staying deep as Sevilla build from the back. In the second clip Sevilla's shape shifts to a 4-3-3 as he joins holding midfielders Rakitić and Nemanja Gudelj to provide another option for the pass out of defence. Marcão passes forward to Rakitić who lays the ball on to Nianzou as Sevilla work the ball beyond the line of the Dortmund press.

The final clip highlights the 20-year-old's confidence on the ball as he steps into the Dortmund half to make an interception and carries the ball upfield, getting as far as the home penalty area thanks to a one-two with Isco. Nianzou ended the evening with pass completion rate of 92.6%.

It was not just the Andalusians' centre-backs who made notable contributions. The UEFA observer cited the defensive discipline of Rakitić operating in a two-man screen against the three Dortmund midfielders, and the work of Lamela who showed discipline when required along with the energy to make forward runs and the versatility to operate at centre-forward for the final half-hour.

From Dortmund, as coach Edin Terzić conceded, there was a lack of attacking spark. They had some success with chance creation from high pressing and counter-pressing but overall, for all their patience on the ball, they lacked attacking threats in the final third. To underline the point, they ended the game with an xG of 0.42– their lowest of the group stage.

Coaches' assessments

Edin Terzić, Dortmund coach
"We really wanted to let the ball do a lot more of the work to make us harder to handle in the final third, but we never really found our groove. We played with a lot of touches before making decisions, which isn't what we wanted.

"We didn't give a lot away, but we didn't create a lot either given the fact we were sat a bit deep. We came on stronger either side of half-time, but it was noticeable that the last few weeks have been very intense for the team. That resulted in us lacking the clinical touch in the final third to create more chances."

Jorge Sampaoli, Sevilla coach
"The intention of playing with five in defence was to make the pitch wider and in that way better cover the flanks, where they are very strong. We practically didn't allow a single chance."