Jorge Sampaoli has showered praise on Bryan Gil for the way he adapted to a new role, which required to winger to show more defensive responsibility.
In his first start back at Sevilla, Gil featured in a rather unusual formation (Sampaoli himself describes it as a ‘3-1-6’), which saw him function as an out-and-out left-winger with the ball while dropping deep to make it a back five out of possession.
Not only did the 22-year-old help the home side keep a clean sheet but he also looked menacing in attack, beating his man with regularity and delivering several dangerous crosses into the box.
Gil got on the scoresheet towards the end of the first half to double Sevilla’s lead after Jesus Navas’ cross from the right fell kindly for him to tap in from close range.
Sampoli singled out the Spain international for praise after the game, speaking in glowing terms of his selfless defensive work.
The Sevilla boss told Marca after his side’s 2-0 win over Mallorca: “He (Gil) defended as a fifth defender and attacked as a winger.
“Bryan, in his previous teams, played as an inverted winger (cutting in from the right). Here, we see many conditions for him to play and help. In the 3-1-6 formation, he linked the attack.
“Defensively, he helped as a fifth defender (slotting in as a wing-back), and he really did it very well, against a winger who has just had a great season like Pablo Maffeo.
“So, I appreciate not only Bryan’s performance but also the generosity with which he played.”
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Conte did use Gil as an emergency right-wing-back option on a couple of occasions when we were chasing games, such as the draw at St Mary’s last season.
One can understand why the Italian never seriously considered Gil as a legitimate option for the wing-back roles, given the Spaniard’s physical stature.
However, I do think that Gil is far more effective when playing on the left than as an inverted winger, as he is more adept at beating his man on the outside rather than cutting in.
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