Jose Luis Mendilibar‘s trademark is a direct and very cautious 1-4-2-3-1 and his Sevilla are a team that has abandoned attacking in favour of pragmatic pressing.
In the defensive phase they combine high zonal pressing with individual marking in the middle block. The midfielders in the center are tasked with closing down the wide channels and bringing the opponent into the centre, where the team feels more confident. The offensive players then descend deeper preventing deep play making and passing options, but in the next phases of the opponent’s attack they change their positioning depending on the direction.
Closed in their own half they play in a low block, adopting, depending on the opponent’s tactics, a symmetrical 1-4-4-2 or 1-3-5-2 shape with the line of pressure shifted to the centre.
Attacking they primarily try to use long passes and plays past the midfield. The same time midfielders approach higher up to create passing options and danger in the offensive third immediately after intercepting the ball.
Mendilibar’s style is defined by a constant search for numerical advantages and the avoidance of risk. At all costs. Even the loss of momentum or a convenient attacking position. That is why the lone targetman (En-Nesyri) very often moves the action deeper. Then Sevilla look to exploit free space in another sector. They lure the rival into their own half only to repeat the variant with a long direct pass a moment later.
The main target is to maintain possession and find free space or a numerical advantage. They position the wingers close to the wing-backs encouraging the rival to press higher.
The second variant is to overload one sector and rotate positions, but the objective is exactly the same: to draw the rival out of their positions, followed by a long direct pass to another sector.