Getafe and Real Betis have started the 2020/2021 La Liga season in fine form and convincing performances. Getafe came into this fixture without conceding a goal and unbeaten in two games. The visiting team came into this fixture off that amazing performance yet unlucky result against the reigning La Liga champions Real Madrid. Apart from this, Real Betis had six points out of possible nine coming into this game.
This fixture was a game of one-half as Getafe ended the match in the first 45 minutes with a 3-0 lead. The first half was completely dominated by Getafe as they limited Real Betis to no quality chances. They were also able to rip them apart in transitions and be clinical in front of goal.
José Bordalás lined-up his team in his usual 4-4-2. He made only one change to the team that started away at Deportivo Alavés. Ángel Rodriguez came for Jaime Mata as the strike partner to on-loan player Cucho Hernández. The midfield comprised of the usuals – Marc Cucurella, Nemanja Maksimović, Mauro Arambarri, and Allan Nyom. The backline comprised of Mathias Olivera, Xabier Etxeita, Djené and Damián Suárez.
Manual Pellegrini lined-up Real Betis in the 4-2-3-1 formation. Due to the suspension as a result of a red card given to Emerson Royal, Pellegrini also made one change to the team that played Real Madrid. The back-four comprised of Álex Moreno, Sidnei coming for Emerson but playing as a centre-back, A. Mandi, and Marc Batra who played as a right-back in place of the suspended Emerson. The midfield comprised of the double pivot; William Carvalho and Guido Rodríguez. The front four comprised of Nabil Fekir, Sergio Canales, Juanmi and Antonio Sanabria.
How Getafe stifled Real Betis’ build-up play
The main factor that decided the outcome of the game was Getafe’s ability to defend and stifle out any progression from Real Betis. Getafe did that so well that it led to only two shots on target and just below 0.50 xG for larger parts of the game. Getafe used compactness and intense pressing as two main tools in stifling Real Betis.
They sat in their 4-4-2 midblock with the aim to stop the progression either through the wide or central areas. In blocking central areas, Getafe sat in a compact or narrow mid-block. They aimed at doing it by blocking the passing lanes to the Real Betis double pivot of Rodríguez and Carvalho.
Cucho and Ángel Rodriguez positioned themselves so as to put the double pivot in their cover shadows. As shown in the image above, Cucho kept looking over his shoulder to scan and maintain awareness of their positions so as to alter his own.
Getafe were proactive in their attempt to stifle progression. This means that they forced Real Betis’ build-up into certain zones and situations. They were able to do this because of two things – no central passing option and the press. These factors forced Real Betis’ build-up to wide areas which was the intended aim of Getafe.
Getafe were able to press the wide areas better as they had more control over there. This is because the wide areas have less open space as opposed to the central areas which makes pressing better.
The home side started their press as soon as a pass travelled from the foot of the centre-back to the full-back. As soon as the full-back receives the pass, the ball-near striker marks the oppositions’ ball-near pivot. This prevented an inside passing option. The vertical passing options are shut down as the winger who drops deep gets marked. The wide area gets cramped due to the tight marking and compactness which forces play back to the centre-backs.
In the image above, Cucurella presses the right-back, Batra, as he receives a pass from Mandi. Cucho marks the ball-near central midfielder Rodríguez so as to prevent an inside passing option.
In cases where the centre-back spends too much time on the ball and starts looking for a line-breaking pass or steps into the confrontation zone, the ball-near striker for Getafe presses. The striker presses at an angle that still puts the opposition’s ball-near pivot in his cover shadow. Apart from this, he presses at the ball-carrier when the ball-carrier has an outward body orientation which reluctantly forces the build-up play wide.
As soon as the ball gets into the wide area, the ball-near CM steps up to press the ball-near pivot. As mentioned earlier, it nullifies the inside passing option. The full-back marks the ball-near winger tightly. The ball-near striker marks the space between the full-back and the ball-near centre-back which basically makes the backward pass a bit difficult. This forces the full-back to go long which Getafe are very much able to control as they are capable of winning duels.
In the case where one of the pivots drops out of the second line to the first build-up line, the winger presses the pivot. This leaves the ball-side full-back as a free man and a passing option. The pivot uses this passing option as he makes an outside pass to escape the pressure from the winger. As the pass is played, the winger presses the full-back at an angle which blocks a return pass back to the pivot. The ball-side CM marks the vacated space of the opposition pivot which prevents the pivot from making a run into that space in order to provide a passing option.
Apart from this, there were also cases where the pivot was able to move out the cover shadow and create a passing lane in-between the lines. In this case, they still follow the principle of not allowing the pivot to have much time on the ball as they quickly close him down. The strikers react by performing a backward press while the wingers and central midfielder press from the opposite direction.
Real Betis build-up issues and solutions
As mentioned earlier, Getafe’s aggressive mid-block stifled Real Betis’ ball progression. Apart from the fact that Getafe had a superb mid press, Real Betis contributed to it by having their own build-up issues.
First of all, the double pivots were on a straight line which hampered the creation of passing angles. This made it easier for Getafe to block the central passing lanes without getting stretched.
The lack of staggering was also worsened by the lack of opposite movements. This adversely affected the use of third man combinations as a means of progression.
Another issue was the lack of press resistance in the double pivot. The inability of the pivot to receive on the half-turn under pressure meant it was easy for Getafe to pressure the pivot as they will likely make a return pass. As the game progressed, Canales came to the double pivot to facilitate progress as he was more agile and technical than Rodríguez and Carvalho.
Also, at different moments, the positioning in-between Getafe’s midfield line was nearly non-existent. This made it easier for Getafe to defend as they defended less space.
In the image above, it shows the un-occupation of the half-spaces between the lines. This leads to no vertical passing option for the ball-carrier.
Furthermore, the ball progression from the centre-backs was poor on numerous occasions. They were moments where the double pivot was free in space and there was a clear passing lane towards the pivot. However, the centre-backs couldn’t progress play via line-breaking passes.
These issues and Getafe’s defensive play led to the most passes being played amongst the Real Betis back four as shown in the pass map above.
However, there were moments where they solved their build-up issues and took advantage of lapses in Getafe’s mid-press. In moments where Real Betis were shifting the block from side to side, they were able to take advantage of spaces left on flanks through long diagonal balls from the centre-back to the full-back.
As mentioned earlier, Real Betis were able to take advantage of lapses in Getafe’s mid-press. The lapses came about in situations where Getafe’s central midfielders weren’t positioned in time to press the double pivot. This enabled the double pivot to receive the ball in space and time, then turn to make a progressive or lateral pass.
Here, Carvalho moves towards the ball-carrier as and he’s able to receive the ball in space as he isn’t pressed by Getafe’s ball-near central midfielder.
How Getafe carved out shooting opportunities
Getafe’s main method of chance creation were transitional attacks. They were able to create transitional attacks from different scenarios or sources. Although, the common factor in creating these transitions were turnovers from either the mid-press or counter-press.
In the mid-press, these turnovers are mostly created either when there is a ball-oriented press on either of the pivots or wide-area press. These turnovers easily lead to the best transitional shooting opportunities as there are more space and time, plus numerical equality or numerical advantage. This is because the full-backs are either high/wide or the zone 14 area is vacated due to the out of position pivots.
In counter-pressing situations, these transitional attacks happen as a result of second balls or loose balls from clearances or goal-kicks from Getafe’s third. Due to the chaotic nature of these balls, it’s easier to press the balls as they are difficult to control by the opponents whilst the opponent’s defensive shape is disorganised. Getafe looked forward to creating these situations as they were confident in their abilities to win individual battles.
Apart from these transitional attacks from turnovers, Getafe looked to create shooting opportunities from transitioning from throw-ins. They took quick throws that caught Real Betis off guard.
Also, they tried to create shooting opportunities from long balls in behind for their runners. They also created opportunities from goal-kicks which led to headed flick-ons in-behind for the runners to latch onto.
As said earlier in this analysis, Getafe totally dominated the game as they were able to utilise their compact mid-block and mid-press to stop progression and ultimately any chance creation. Through their intense and intelligent pressing, they were able to unsettle Real Betis. Their intensity was on a much higher level than Real Betis who seemed passive for the larger parts of the game. It’ll be nice to see Getafe’s defensive play against a team like Barcelona who seem to have much more improved attacking dynamics this season.
On the other hand, Real Betis need to improve their build-up dynamics as it’s easy to defend against them especially through a mid-block and mid-press. Their only effective attacking option is through transitions from counter presses which Getafe annihilated through no virtual mistakes in the build-up play and their superb defensive transitions.