Real Betis won a significant victory over Valencia, with a clean double, in the fifth round matches. The match that was held at the Mestalla Stadium for LaLiga, and Sergio Canales and Christian Tello scored the two goals.
The formation of the forwards in the last third for Real Betis, especially the right side with the presence of Emerson, Nabil Fekir and the company of Joaquín on the line as well, did wonders for the victors. On the flip side, pressure from Valencia, with relying on long balls behind defenders, was the trick for the defeated side.
In this tactical analysis, we will try to showcase the ideas of two coaches in this game.
Javier Garcia, the coach of the Valencia team, entered a semi-fixed formation compared to the last victory against Real Sociedad, 4-4-2, and only three changes in terms of names – Gonçalo Guedes entered on the left side instead of Alex Blanco, and Kevin Gameiro instead of Kang Lee with the same tactics.
On the other hand, coach Manuel Pellegrini and his team, Real Betis, made some substitutions in terms of players or different player positions.
Right-back Emerson Royal returned to the starting lineup. At the same time, Algerian Issa Mandy was absent, and Marc Bartra returned to the depth of the defence, Christian Tello also played on the left side of the attack and Canales returned to the centre of the field in the absence of William Carvalho.
Gracia decided to apply his beloved method by pressing from different areas of the field, whether as a group or as a player against a player.
Playing with a duo in the offensive line gives an essential advantage in the idea of pressing, as it uses that duo for two main reasons – pressure on the central defenders and covering vertical passes towards the centre players, to prevent building-up attacks.
And this is what Gracia is trying to do, as we will see in the next examples.
Here we notice the attacking duo of Valencia putting pressure on Betis defenders when building the game from Bartra, the former Barcelona player, taking into account the positioning of the Valencia wings on the field with the containment of the position of the left and right-backs of Betis.
Defending the area while remaining in the middle third was Valencia’s main idea while losing the ball, but that was a bad idea because of the way the sides moved for Real Betis.
Gracia was delaying the free zone, as he made the Real Betis defence line advance so that the spaces were found later.
Here we can see the spaces behind the backs of Real Betis, while the team builds to play, with Valencia squeezing from the middle third, where the team can quickly reverse attacks in the space.
The coach’s ideas for the Valencia team in the first half in terms of choosing the midfield area to be the best place to wrap up the ball were not successful, which he changed in the second half with high pressure on Betis’s defence.
The coach decided for the Valencia team to return in a big way to the first third during the last quarter of an hour of the first half, to close the spaces, and work on the numbers, especially on the sides in front of the Real Betis players.
Here we see Valencia retreating intensely in the first third of the stadium, to close the space in front of the Real Betis team, which depends on playing on the sides.
Perhaps Valencia struggled to press hard and succeeded in cutting balls, and it was Betis’ idea when possessing the ball.
Betis and numerical superiority
Pellegrini, coach of Real Betis, on forming fronts, especially on the right side, decided to penetrate the Valencia defence by numerical superiority and move in space.
Numerically superiority, both in building attacks and the stage of transformation rapidly in the first and middle thirds and repeating the same idea in the last third, was the main point in the coach’s mind.
We’ll try to see examples of that idea when Real Betis had the ball.
Here we see the concentration of four Betis players in front of three players from Valencia in a small square, which means an additional solution for the ball carrier in Real Betis, with the possibility of playing in the space on the line.
The exploitation of the low positions of the Valencia defence gave Real Betis a space on the sides, whether to the right or the left of the defence, with the freedom to exchange positions between Fekir and Joaquín.
Here in Real Betis’s second goal, we see Joaquín entering the depth of the stadium, with the expansion of the last third, from Tello and Fekir, so that there is more than one solution to penetrate and score as it happened.
Here in the first goal for Betis, we notice the right back and the right-wing, while Canales advances to take advantage and receive the second ball, which is what happened and scored.
Betis were able to play on the sides and score goals, by using spaces and horizontal play, but the defensive team’s performance was also distinguished.
Real Betis in the defensive phase
Real Betis were defending in a very organised manner – everyone behind the ball line, relying on the offside trap if the defence line was brought forward a few meters.
4-2-3-1 turns into 4-4-2, in case the ball is lost, to form a horizontal line in front of the defence line, and to cover spaces and not leave the Valencia players in a state of freedom on the field.
We’ll see how Manuel Pellegrini changed the ball’s catch zone, during the match on more than one occasion.
Here we see Joaquín watching in front of the Valencia wing on the right side of Betis’ defence, trying to stop him from advancing, with Emerson watching with Blanco to prevent a pass.
Real Betis put pressure on man-to-man systems at certain times of the match to make the build-up process more difficult for Valencia.
Here we see every player from Valencia considering a pass solution in front of him, a player from the ranks of Betis to prevent him from receiving and advancing, in the last third.
The way and style did change at the end of the second half, relying on an advanced defence from the half of the field and leaving space between the line and the goalkeeper to lure Valencia’s players offside.
But if we wanted to praise the defence for Real Betis, the biggest reason was the failure of the Valencia players in attack and the lack of creativity.
Valencia with the ball
The Valencia team suffered greatly during the match, and since the beginning of the season, due to weak offensive ideas, or a relatively low implementation.
Maxi Gomez moved outside the penalty area and cleared space for those coming from the back, or Guedes entered from the left side and tried to shoot.
Gracia is trying to develop ideas, but it seems that the quality of the elements is not conducive to that, as we will notice these simple attacks during the match.
Here the ball is with Guedes on the left side in a repeated single attempt, and goes into depth, with Gomez moving behind Betis’ defence and requesting the ball.
Here Guedes succeeds in playing a line-breaking pass towards Gomez, who solved Betis’ defence flaws.
Lack of experience, with low visibility for the Valencia players, was an obvious problem in attacking as we shall see in this analysis.
Here Kang-In Lee decides to pass traditionally and safely to Daniel Wass, without looking at the far post, and move behind the Valencia defence.
The Valencia team tried to break through the defence of Betis, one of whose men were the brilliant Emerson in the right-back position.
Emerson on track
One of Real Betis’ most important men this meeting was Emerson in the right-back position, whether defensively or offensively.
Emerson has managed ten defensive positions out of 14, which means a success rate of more than 71%, which is essential for the full-back.
He also has a 45% success rate in recovering the balls, where he succeeds in that thanks to his movement, positioning and position in front of the opponent and the ball.
Here Emerson is stationed in front of Gaya to prevent him from playing the cross ball towards the attackers, which he succeeded in due to his body position and correct positioning.
Here he can head the ball, after a long ball from Valencia’s defence towards Guedes in space, but again Emerson’s position was fantastic.
Emerson also succeeded in the offensive aspects, as he had 87% accurate passes and 35% right crosses, which means that he is a vital playing key for his team.
Here, the image confirms Betis’s attack, relying on the right-hand side, where Emerson is located at 63%, and it was perilous.
Because of this victory, Real Betis are temporarily in second place behind Real Madrid, the first with 10, where Betis has 9 points.
While Valencia is in eighth place with 7 points, after suffering a second defeat this season.