Gary Medel’s dismissal during Friday night’s Seville derby allowed Betis to complete a wonderful comeback late on to draw 3-3 despite being three goals down after half an hour. Medel’s earlier error had marked the turning point in the match when Dorlan Pabon clipped the ball past Sevilla keeper Beto to make it 3-1 moments before half-time but the man nicknamed ‘The Pitbull’ gave Betis the chance to salvage a point after lashing out at Swansea bound midfielder Jose Canas. The red was the 13th of Medel’s tumultuous career to date and his fourth dismissal of the season, making the likes of Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira look like saints in comparison.
Medel’s tenacity and desire to win possession has glorified his lack of discipline in recent years but following his fourth sending off of the season in a derby which appeared to be over by half-time, his popularity with the fans will have taken a severe knock. His behavioural issues show no sign of diminishing, as an incident earlier this season when Medel kicked a plastic chair at a policeman will attest, and teams now look to wind up Medel to provoke a reaction from the Chilean midfielder – exactly what Canas did in the incident on Friday.
The Seville derby was not Medel’s finest hour by any means as he lazily gifted Pabon possession to score the opener, but Medel has been a dominant presence in the heart of Sevilla’s midfield for the past few seasons. Chipping in with the odd goal here and there, Medel is Sevilla’s third top scorer for the season with 6 goals, helping out Ivan Rakitic and Alvaro Negredo ahead of him. Medel has played more accurate long balls than any other Sevilla outfield player this season (130) and enjoys the best pass completion rate in the squad (88.1%), the second best in the league behind Barcelona’s players.
More recently Medel has been the aide to young French midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia who has been making quite a stir in La Liga during the last few weeks. The two have struck up a solid partnership, staying back whilst Jesus Navas and Jose Antonio Reyes roar down the wings and Rakitic and Negredo hunt for goals, giving Sevilla some welcome balance. They ripped Betis apart inside 30 minutes on Friday with Rakitic playmaking and linking up well with Navas and Reyes to score a double. Whilst Sevilla’s away form has been abysmal this season, they are set up ideally for the counter attack with so much pace up front.
Whilst their shape may be effective, Sevilla’s discipline has been a massive problem. They’ve received 12 red cards this season, comfortably the highest in the division which has arguably been the difference between them finishing in a European position. Unai Emery’s fiery behaviour on the touchline is unlikely to prevent Sevilla’s aggression but it is a problem that needs eradicating if the club want to challenge for Europe next season.
As for Medel, he has 13 red cards at the age of just 25, making him one of the hottest heads in the game. As Terry Gibson said during the game on Friday, if there was to be a red then Medel would have been the lazy choice. Fans call him ‘The Pitbull’ but a more apt nickname would be ‘The Volcano’ or ‘The Broken Alarm Clock’ because you never know when he is going to go off.