Manchester United vs Sevilla – What went wrong?

It was a night to forget as Fernandes and Lindelof clashed after United conceded the second goal
(Image from The Sun)

Manchester United ended their season on a crashing note as team lost 2-1 to Sevilla in Europa League semifinals. The defeat ended all hopes of getting a silverware in cabinet, and it’s 31 years now that the Red Devils have gone 3 consecutive seasons without a trophy.

But where did it all go wrong? Did we really play awful? Or it wasn’t just our day? Let’s look at all the goals and factors involved to understand this –


United started in their usual 4-2-3-1 and this is where the trouble began
(Image from YouTube)


Sevilla started with their classic 4-3-3 with Fernando as anchor
(Image from YouTube)
While it’s understandable that Solskjaer wants to stick to a system that works, line-up should have been tweaked a little knowing Sevilla’s strengths and way of playing, as discussed in this article. The fact that we were starting inexperienced full-back Williams against the likes of seasoned Suso and Ocampos in itself was a huge risk.

Moreover, Sevilla’s systems also involves full-backs making overlapping runs, and when a 4-2-3-1 system is placed against that, full-backs have to tackle two players at once. With skilled wingers and strong full-backs of Sevilla, Williams and Wan-Bissaka were set to have a long night, and unfortunately, fears turned out to be correct as both the goals on that dreadful night came with full-back taking assists.

 Unfolding the first Sevilla goal:

Manchester United did everything right to get into the lead, and we got our goal as a courtesy of a deserved penalty, and therefore, I’ll not be discussing that. Coming to Sevilla’s first goal, move started on left-wing with Ocampos sprinting on the left flank. Knowing the Argentine’s skill, Lindelof and Wan-Bissaka decided to cover him and take the possession. Perceiving this, Ocampos moved further wide, and that indicated Reguilon to drift inside to make an overlapping run.

As Reguilon ran down the channel, Ocampos played him a simple pass that saw defender getting into the box with enough time & space as United defenders were left behind. And then, full-back put a delicious low-cross that that beat everyone except Suso who finished it excellently at near post.

Sevilla first goal
Look at left-flank above: Ocampos up wide, Reguilon inside, and defenders left behind
(Image from YouTube)

Look at Williams here (marked in RED). Looking at this frame no one would even believe that he is a full-back. His positioning is all wrong, and it helped the Sevilla full-back to pick the perfect spot for cross, as Suso got a free ticket into the box. Williams did try to go for the ball later on, but it was too little, too late.

Also have a look at Harry Maguire, who is just above Williams. He first decides to go towards the cross, but then stops knowing that the Sevilla striker is behind him, and if he rushes to stop the cross, Reguilon might get an idea of the same and then simply decide to cut it back to the striker who will get a chance for an easy finish.

All this confusion resulted in this –

No look defending
While Harry Maguire did the right thing here, he was still laughed upon for this goal
(Image from GiveMeSport)


Killing the comeback:

While it’s normal for a team to concede a goal in a high-stakes match, what matters is the mentality to conquer again. And in order to do that, they need to create chances and be clinical at finishing as well. A good finisher in the big nights is what makes you a ‘clutch player’. And as much as we all love Martial, he simply wasn’t ‘clutch’. This, in my opinion, killed the match for us.
If you, as a United fan were offered Anthony ‘ice cold’ Martial  to have three 1v1 situations against the opposition goalkeeper, and that too at a moment when teams needs only one chance to be converted, I’m pretty sure most of us would have put our lives on bet. But this didn’t turn out the expected way against Sevilla, and these frames are evidence of it –
Martial 1st chance
1. Anthony Martial misses his first chance after a sleek through ball from Bruno
(Image from YouTube)


Anthony Martial 2nd chance
2. Anthony Martial takes too much time allowing GK to cover the post
(Image from YouTube)

Anthony Martial 3rd chance

Now, coming to the third and the final aspect – Sevilla’s second goal. The goal that extended our silverware drought for one more season –

An end to forget:

The third goal summed up every United fan’s feelings for last 3 years – Frustration. Frustration with transfers, furstration with board, frustration with lack of trophies, and frustration of disappearing at all important times. Second goal started from a Sevilla counter-attack as they went to the right flank, and then in same old way, Navas drifted inside, and with Harry Maguire still dragging himself back with his slow pace, substitute striker Luuk de Jong drilled to our box with ease.

At this moment, Wan-Bissaka should have marked his man, and Lindelof has looked behind his shoulders as well. Embarassingly, both the defenders failed at thier jobs as Navas chipped in a decent cross that de Jong controlled and tapped-in with great ease. Here is how things happened – 

Second goal starts
Wan-Bissaka and de Jong seem inseperable here. So far, so good by the full-back.
(Image from YouTube)
Seond goal transition
This is where Wan-Bissaka certainly decides to pull back and just stare at ball
(Image from YouTube)

Second goal finish
Look how cross comfortably landed in de Jong’s feet; Lindelof didn’t cut it; Wan-Bissaka didn’t cover
(Image from YouTube)
The moment this goal came, game was over despite more than 10 minutes remaining. That’s because this goal shattered the players from within. Attacking players weren’t having a good night after missing so many chances, and then the defence didn’t help them at all. Both goals in the game could’ve been stopped easily; All the chances we had would’ve landed behind in the net another day, and that adds to the never ending woes of us fans.


To conclude, we conceded easy goals, missed great chances, and were also unlucky on the day. We were clearly the better team on the ground as we created more chances and took more shots. In all, majority of the loss was due to our mistake, but some of it was also down to luck. Another aspect that fans have pointed out was gaffer not using substitutes.
I have a partial inclination towards this. Yes, Solskjaer did get at subs, but the problem is the quality of our squad on bench. The gaffer spoke about the same in post match conference as well. The club needs to be active in the market, spend some money, and get quality in the squad if we want to get back to the winning ways. As United fans, let’s hope this loss knocks some sense to the upper management and we see some new unveilings at the Theatre of the Dreams.

Author: TUD Author