Getafe are a pleasant surprise for Spanish football ever since their rise last season and the surge they’ve been making in the La Liga table. The team finished sixth last season in the league with 59 points and climbed to the European League competitions, while this season the team was in fifth place under coach Jose Bordalas.
Nemanja Maksimović is one of two central midfielders who play in the Getafe system and have shown us great performances and effectiveness. Maksimović, after an unsuccessful period in the Valencia squad, decided to move to his current team in the summer of 2018.
Through this tactical analysis, we will try to review what the Serbian player has provided tactically and his statistical improvement with his team this season.
Getafe’s team under coach Jose Bordalas are used to playing with a 4-4-2 system, where they play with two central midfielders, and Nemanja Maksimovic is deployed beside the Uruguayan Mauro Arambarri, where the former tended to be a box-to-box player who can go vertically through the pitch as part of the team’s tactics.
Nemanja Maksimović has had a great defensive performance with Getafe, and one of his best traits is how he recovers the balls from his opponent with huge concentration and focus put on cutting the passing lanes effectively.
The Serbian player is one of the players who makes the most interceptions, recovering the ball from the opposition at a rate of 7.46 per game.
Out of the total of 62 times he intercepted the ball, 55 of them happened in the first and middle thirds of the pitch, serving the ideas of Bordalas who preferred to use mid-blocks in the defensive phase, and we will see that in the next examples.
Here we can see Getafe’s team in the defensive phase against Ajax in a Europa League match from this season, when the Dutch team took possession of the ball. We can also see the return of the Spanish team to the first third as they try to use a closed system to defend man-to-man and Nemanja Maksimović comes face to face with the Ajax player in the “zone 14” area.
This is where he usually likes to operate when defending in a deep block, but it’s actually the way he moves and recognises the patterns in which the attacking team likes to operate that sets him apart from the rest.
We notice here that because of his intense focus on the ball’s path, he managed to predict the movement of the player who was receiving a pass from Danny Blind, and successfully intercepts this pass. We can say that this was all down to his good positioning since he’s managed to keep the danger out of his team’s goal and also start a quick turnover from the deep right after that.
Maksimović becomes the second line in the defensive structure behind the offensive duo when the coach decides to apply high pressure to the last third on the field, as it helps close the passing lanes of the ball, which forces the opposing team to resort to advance the ball with long, vertical passes. We can see that in the next example.
Here we can see Maksimović positioned behind the duo of the attacking line, Jaime Mata and Devverson, in order for the build-up process to be difficult from behind for Ajax, and we can see the man-to-man system again with the cutting of ball lanes, and the Serb focusing on the player who carries the ball, forcing the defender to play the vertical ball and losing it.
Maksimović has a distinguished number in terms of defensive actions taken on the pitch, as he did this 542 times and which was the third-highest in the team after Marc Cucurella and Mauro Arambarri. This is a remarkable number where it appears that the player is moving vertically on the field from his penalty area to the opponent’s penalty area, and we can see this in his heat map.
If we look at those actions in more detail, we find that 339 of these actions happened in the middle and the final third of the pitch, which is mostly due to the coach’s tactics of quickly trying to regain possession immediately after losing the ball and Maksimović plays a key role in that system.
Besides, he is good at making blocks against passes or shots of the opponent, as he has 37 cases that he succeeded in doing so. He is also distinguished in making tackles as he has done so 44 times this season, as well as in his mental ability as seen in air duels of up to 4.74 per game. He uses these features to spoil opponent attacks and take the possession back to Getafe, as we can see in the next example.
Here we can see Nemanja made a tackle on Barcelona player Frenkie De Jong in the build-up of the Catalan team in the final third of the pitch. This brought back possession to Getafe with an attempt to create a risk against Barcelona before the attacker fell in offside.
Maksimović is one of the best defensive players in the Spanish league, as he can make blocks alongside intercepting the ball with his great positioning, but he also has a distinct attacking role.
If we talk about Nemanja’s offensive role with Getafe we will find that he is a player who moves a lot in the space between his team area and the opponent’s area, taking into account his main position which is a box-to-box player.
Maksimović has an expected goal (xG) ratio of up to 2.62 this season, and although he scored only two goals, we can observe the way in which he moved in a vertical manner to the opponent’s penalty area, to be able to get either a decisive pass or the second ball in a dangerous area, and we will see that in the following examples.
Here we can see analysis of his goal against Real Mallorca, when the ball is with Kendey on the left flank, and the number 21 centre-back of the opponent didn’t see Maksimović who moved vertically in the space on the far post. This move made him a solution while his teammates Etebo and Ángel Rodríguez were heavily marked, and it was his great spatial awareness that enabled this goal.
This image displays the good positioning by the Serbian international when his team has the ball, making him a solution and a pillar for the team, and it also makes the team numerically superior in some situations.
Nemanja Maksimović has a great sense of movement that makes him sharp on the offensive side. Moving behind the offensive duo not only occurs at different pressure stages in defensive ideas, but he can hunt the balls even under the numerical deficiency, as we can see his vertical movement again in the next image.
Here we find Jaime Mata receiving the cross from Mark Cucurella, while Nemanja Maksimović is on the borders of the Real Sociedad penalty area, against a numerical superiority of the 5 against 2 players in the penalty area.
Here we see that he once again becomes a solution after receiving the ball returned from Angel’s feet, and scores despite the numerical superiority of Real Sociedad.
Maksimovic’s perpetual movement presents him in the most important stages of the attack when the possession is with Getafe. He also thinks a lot about shooting – he is not just a midfielder who spins or follows the ball, having made 32 shots this season.
Here we can see a duel between Getafe striker Jorge Molina and Valencia defender in a joint ball in the final third of the field with a note that Nemanja Maksimović is running into the final third in order to get the ball despite a numerical superiority for the away team.
Here again, Nemanja Maksimović appears as a solution despite the numerical increase of Valencia in their area. However, he advanced vertically, giving him the opportunity to hit the target.
And we find that Nemanja’s continuous movement to the front area causes a malfunction in the monitoring system of the opposing team as it appeared in that example, with all the players going towards him when shooting.
Despite his distinguished defensive performances and his presence as an important solution on the offensive side, Nemanja’s performance suffers from some points.
Skills to be improved
If we talk about one of these points, we will find that he suffers in the final touch, that is, making opportunities and goals, as he has a contribution rate of expected assists (xA) that reaches 0.35 per game, as well as just two chance creation overall the season, and that’s very little for a player who is always near the opponent’s plenty area.
Among the obvious things in the performance of Nemanja Maksimović, especially in the final third, is his constant thinking of scoring the goal, as he does not think of passing to his colleagues, as we will see in the following example.
Here we see the ball is with Nemanja Maksimović heading towards the goal of Ajax, and with him from his teammates, but he preferred to advance to the penalty area and then shoot, and this cost him the loss of the ball. His constant thinking of the shot is a double-edged sword that can come with goals, and at other times he misses opportunities to score when he does not pass.
He also lost the ball in the third of his team by a rate of 3.7 per game, and 1.27 of the times led to dangerous opportunities for the opposing team.
Besides this, he also has an accurate pass rate of up to 74%, which is perhaps not a great percentage for a player who is active in the middle third.
Another skill needed to improve is his ability to keep the ball in possession and not lose it, especially in the middle third. Nemanja Maksimović lost the ball this season in La Liga 216 times, as we will see in the next map.
Here we can see Nemanja’s repeated loss of the ball, particularly in the middle half of the field, where the opponent beat him to cut the ball through 122 times in the middle.
In this scout report, we tried to show Nemanja Maksimovic’s great defensive capabilities with his great positioning and a big role in putting pressure on the opposition upon losing the ball. He also has some great attacking skills but there are areas of his player profile that have to be further improved.