Villarreal got a deserved victory over Valencia in the match which was played at de LA CERÁMICA stadium, within the matches of round 32 of the La Liga with two goals scored at the first half by Paco Alcácer and Gerard Moreno.

Villarreal on his pitch with build-up tactics of coach Javier Calleja, who chose 4-3-3 on the score-sheet, but changing in the pattern of play to be 4-4-2 to make the pitch more width with movements of Samuel Chukwueze and Gerard Moreno in the half-spaces, Valencia trying to defend against those ideas, but some issues of positioning make it impossible.

In this tactical analysis, we will try to showcase the tactics of two coaches in this game.

Line-ups La Liga 2019/20: Villarreal vs Valencia - tactical analysis tactics

Villarreal coach Javier Calleja started with the same system and players as usual 4-4-2 as the last match against Sevilla while reaping a point of positive tie in that match with two goals for each team. One change was Xavier Quintilla who came into the team to replace former Liverpool player Alberto Moreno at left-back.

On the other side Valencia under coach Albert Celades started that match with many changes compared with the last match when they lost against Eibar last round, Celades changed the formation to be 4-4-2 flat, Daniel Wass in the central midfielder and Alessandro Florenzi as a right-back, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Gonzalo Guedes on the bench at the beginning of the match and Maxi Gómez as the main striker beside Rodrigo Moreno.

Villarreal build-up

Javier Calleja used a 4-4-2 system with Vicente Iborra and Zambo Anguissa on the centre of midfield, with Santi Cazorla more inclined to the left-wing, and Samuel Chukwueze expanding the team to the right.

Vicente Iborra is the important player in the build-up phase, that’s because of making himself an additional option to take the ball from the first third to the team and move up to Valencia´s area, as we will see in the next vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics Here when the ball with Pau Lopez was in Villarreal’s defensive line, a pair of Valencia players are trying to press for the ball to be hijacked in their offensive third, causing problems in the early stages of play, and we notice the positioning of Vicente Iborra among the Valencia duo Maxi Gómez and Rodrigo vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics With no solution, we can see Vicente Iborra dropping off to be third-back to expand the pitch, and that’s what happened when Raúl Albiol was the free-player on the right side to receive the ball and continue the build-up.

We also can notice Zambo Anguissa move horizontally to be in direct link with Vicente to make the width in the build-up and Carlos Soler pulls the left side inward, which means space for the duo Mario Gaspar and Samuel Chukwueze on the right side.

There is a clear exchange of roles between Zambo Anguissa and  Vicente Iborra regarding who goes to the depth of defence to begin work during the first stage in building up, as we will notice in the next vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics Here we see the Cameronian plays the role of the third defender in the build-up phase of play and this helps a lot of his midfield teammates, with Mario Gasper entering deep into the field to remain Samuel Chukwueze on the right side to receive the ball without control from Valencia vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics Here we see the positioning of Santi Cazorla, the left-wing closer to the depth of Villarreal’s defence, with no pressure on him, and here we notice Zambo Anguissa moving in a vertical way to penetrate the space in the Valencia team with the use of direct playing stylela-liga-2019-20-Villareal vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics

The players who were in the Villarreal defence line alongside the two-pivot have an average pass rate of 90%, but it has nothing to do with doing the right actions as much as making the right decisions in terms of passing, timing and direction.

But it was not easy to build play and advance the ball for Villarreal for reasons related to the Valencia defensive system, so what are the problems that faced the guests during the match in the defensive part?

Valencia´s defensive issues

There were many defensive problems for Valencia, especially in the first hour of the match, which led to the ease of penetration of the Villarreal team and we can talk about several reasons, including the wrong positioning of Daniel Wass and Dani Parejo deep in the field.

Villarreal striker moves freely as Valencia midfielders are poorly positioned cause of the latter defensive problems that we can see in the next vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics

Here we can see the duo of the Villarreal Paco Alcácer and Gerard Moreno attack centre deep in the space between the midfielders of Valencia with the last third left without players from the team, and here it causes leaving the spaces behind Dani Parejo and Daniel Wass, which facilitates the process of receiving the ball in the space behind them.

It was necessary to have a consistency of movement between the players of Valencia’s pivots in such cases that one of them be deeper in front of the two-hearted defence to become more revealing to the vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics Here, when Valencia lost the ball in the last third of the field, we see numerical superiority for Villarreal, which facilitated the rapid transition from the defence stage of the attack, due to the lack of reverse pressure from the Valencia players on the ball vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tacticsIn continuation of that attack, we see the speed of the attack from Villarreal offset by a slow defensive for Valencia, merging making that attack 6 against 6 and had it not been for the wrong choice in the pass by Villarreal players, this opportunity would have created a greater risk, and here the matter was further complicated by Alessandro Florenzi’s delay in returning to His position as a right-back, and the absence of a midfield player to cover.

The slow defensive return from Parejo and Daniel Wass caused a lot of problems in the half-spaces behind them, as we will see vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics

Here the issue is repeated, Samuel Chukwueze presses and kidnaps the ball from the Valencia player in the middle third, with Dani Parejo and Daniel Wass in the upper zone of the middle third, but without moving and pressing the ball bearer, which led to easy vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics

Here with direct passes to Gerard Moreno, we could see the movements of Villarreal attacking line with speed and sharp vertically toward Valencia plenty area with no defensive players in the half-spaces between the defensive line and central midfield, where they have the ability for Villarreal to penetrate the vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics

Here again, we see Paco Alcácer in half-space between the defence line and the midfield without oversight, and we notice the alert Hugo Guillamón to his colleague Daniel Wass to move and put pressure on Paco, who didn’t face any difficulty in receiving, then turning and shooting. These issues repeated in the defence of Valencia, including poor positioning of the players and the slow transition to a defensive shape, but what about the exploitation of the half-spaces of Villarreal players, in particular Gerard Moreno.

Gerard Moreno in half-space

Gerard Moreno is one of Villarreal’s most important players this season in the offensive slot and is perhaps the most important due to his movements, with or without the ball, and he plays the role of the second striker next to Paco Alcácer.

Gerard Moreno dropped off to the half-spaces to be free-man in Villarreal attacking system, to get the ability for key passes or shooting and we will see his roles in the next vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics

Here we can see Gerard Moreno move in the space between the fulcrum players in Valencia to request the ball, which makes him facing the opponent’s goal and enables him to form a risk, with no close supervision on vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics

Here, with Carlos Soler late in putting pressure on Moreno, the latter enabled a decisive pass in the space behind the Valencia defence to score Villarreal’s goal during the match.

The presence of Gerard Moreno in the half-spaces made him very dangerous in the last third because of the constant movement of his colleagues to request the ball and the absence of pressure from the Valencia players.

Gerard Moreno had three key passes during the meeting as the second most player after teammate Santi Cazorla who owned five, along with 50% success in 1v1 duels, and when we talk about ease of penetration for Villarreal, we also talk about completely the opposite thing for Valencia.

la-liga-2019-20-Villareal vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics

Here we could see Gerard Moreno’s defensive role, where he covered the shadow of Dani Parejo in the build-up phase to block vertical passes and forced the ball holder to play long balls and losing possession.

Valencia struggle to penetrate 

Valencia suffered a lot from major difficulties in its multiple attempts to penetrate, or even build-up from behind, due to Villarreal imposing the idea of numerical superiority in the location of the ball as we will see in the next examples. la-liga-2019-20-Villareal vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics

Here we see the ball with Valencia goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen in an attempt to build play from the defensive third, but with a lot of pressure from Villarreal players in the last third of the field with the principle of a man to a man pressing everywhere on the field which led to Dutch goalkeeper quickly losing possession. la-liga-2019-20-Villareal vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics

Here and another idea of Villarreal’s defence method, unlike Valencia, when the latter managed to reach the last third and the ball owned Rodrigo Moreno, the defender Pau Lopez came out of his position to put pressure on him, which made it difficult for the Valencia striker’s mission to play the ball to penetrate the defence of the opposition.

Numerical superiority alongside individual positions was decisive in the ideas of Javier Calleja during the defensive stages, whether in the organized attacks of Valencia or ideas of rapid transitions. la-liga-2019-20-Villareal vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics

Here we find the ball on the left side of the Valencia team in the offensive situation with Jaume Costa advancing to the last third, but the numerical superiority with the closing passes was the most important for Villarreal’s team, as well as taking steps back from Raul Albiol, the centre of the Villarreal defence.

However, despite these difficulties, the coach Albert Celades’s team did not give up, and the Valencia coach tried to make some changes in the second half to correct matters.

Celades substitutions in the second half

Albert Celades decided at the beginning of the second half to change some things and was the beginning with the start of the second half of the match when he decided to push the Portuguese player Gonçalo Guedes replacing Ferrán Torres to differ the way from 4-4-2 to 4-5-1 for trying to close the spaces into central midfield, and Geoffery Kondogbia to replace Dani Parejo too.

These changes added to the team some positive points, whether on the defensive or offensive side, as we will notice in the following examples la-liga-2019-20-Villareal vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics

Here we see the rapprochement between the defence line and the middle in the Valencia team, to narrow spaces unlike the first half and not leave half-spaces free, which made it difficult for Villarreal matters in building play and easy access to the last third. la-liga-2019-20-Villareal vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics

Here we can see the strong point that distinguishes Geoffery Kondogbia from the rest of his comrades in the Valencia midfield, which is his ability to cut balls from the opponent’s players to prevent the stage of shifting from defence to attack, which the team missed in the first half.

 la-liga-2019-20-Villareal vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics

Here we see Gonçalo Guedes’s ability to be in a player-to-player position in the offensive situation which is what the Valencia team missed during the first hour of play, which was available in the Portuguese international player and formed a risk after a pass to his teammate Jaume Costa who moved forward.

Albert Celades tried to fix things in the second half, either in the defensive or offensive slot, but those ideas did not help him to avoid losing again after the last loss against Eibar.


There were a lot of tactical ideas from both sides during this match between Villareal possession ideas and build-up, and Valencia trying to defend against these steps.

We also tried to see in this analysis some of Valencia issues with or without the ball.

Villarreal temporarily jumped to fifth place with 51 points, while Valencia is in eighth place with 46 points, so that the Valencia team received its third loss during the last four rounds, where it lost against both Real Madrid, Eibar and Villarreal while achieving a single victory against Osasuna.