The four new signings already present with the squad in Japan made their debuts under Berizzo
Sevilla FC kicked off pre-season 2017/2018 with a victory, which took place just before noon against Cerezo Osaka, the team currently leading the Japanese J-League. The first team, who tried two distinct strategies, came through 3-1 winners thanks to a brace from Ben Yedder and a goal in added time for Muriel. Both Corchia and Pizarro also played their first minutes in red and white, while Banega marked his return.
Berizzo has taken no time in revealing early signs of his footballing identity. A vision with a lot of mutual elements to what could be seen last season, but also with the unique seal of the Cruz Alta native. El Toto's first XI were set up in a 4-2-3-1, in which the flanks were the main channels of attack against the current J-League leaders. And so it was that Cerezo were the first to cause concern with a Mizunuma header that was caught by Sergio Rico. From then on it was Sevilla who clearly dominated the match.
With Montoya and Sarabia out wide, Franco Vázquez hanging to the right, and Mercado together with Escudero as fullbacks, the team were very fluid on both flanks, continuously feeding passes to those up front. These highlighted the good qualities of Montoya, who seemed to settle extremely well starting for the first time alongside his teammates. The Argentine was the first with an effort on goal with a powerful shot which was caught by Kim. There were also efforts from distance from Montoya, Franco Vázquez and Escudero, but the best chance fell to Carriço, whose header from a corner hit the Osaka crossbar.
All this before, at last, Ben Yedder scored the evening's first. The Frenchman scored with a deft touch from inside the six yard box, taking advantage of an error from Kim, who was unable to hold onto the ball following a strong shot from Montoya from the edge of the box. Mizunuma tested Sergio Rico again almost 45 minutes after the first effort, but the keeper reacted well to the low shot close to the post.
Ben Yedder sealed the first friendly of pre-season
The Sevilla coach made four changes after half-time, with Corchia, Correa, Lenglet and Ganso coming on, the idea being to give several players a chance over the course of an intense pre-season. The Brazilian quickly made his mark, finding Sarabia with a measured ball, although the keeper was quick off the mark and smothered the shot. Shortly after, there was another measured pass from Ganso, this time finding Correa. The Argentine took a touch bringing the ball to the right, with the keeper rushing out to clear, but the player was clipped and the referee pointed to the spot. Ben Yedder took the responsibility and scored past Kim.
After an hour of play, the second and final set of changes were made, bringing on the three other new signings -Muriel, Banega and Pizarro-. With those three now on the pitch, Berizzo opted for a 4-3-3 in which Banega, Pizarro and Ganso acted as the central pivot, with Correa and Sarabia alternating on the wings. Although Corchia hurried along, and stuck to, the touchline, the Sevilla game involved more cutting inside, and with a clear premise: always finishing off moves.
Cerezo, used to taking advantage of gaps and openings, and in a far better condition physically at this point, managed to reduce the deficit ahead of the final ten minutes of play, following a lobbed ball which was finished off by Fukumitsu after Santos had struck the post. It seemed as if things would end as they were, but in the dying moments Muriel popped up to seal the deal. After continuing to exploit spaces, the Colombian took advantage of a moment of indecision between defender and goalkeeper following a Sergio Rico goal kick to win the match and beat Kim. At this point, Sevilla's first friendly came to an end, marking a team who can now start to look forward to the season ahead, and to this Saturday's match against Kashima Antlers.
The players who started for Sevilla FC: Sergio Rico; Mercado, Pareja, Carriço, Escudero; Nzonzi, Krohn-Dehli; Montoya, Sarabia, Franco Vázquez and Ben Yedder. There were also minutes for Corchia, Correa, Lenglet, Ganso, Muriel, Banega and Pizarro.