Real Betis headed into the clash with Girona in need of a victory to dispel negative feelings that have emerged from the club over the last weeks. Real Betis had only collected one point from the last nine possible in La Liga, after earning nine from the previous nine. Quique Setien’s men suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Real Madrid last week. On the other hand, Girona came to the Benito Villamarin Stadium to stop losing (five in a row). This tactical analysis looks at the highly interesting tactical tendencies of the game.

Starting line-up

REAL BETIS XI (3-4-1-2): Pau Lopez (GK), Aissa Mandi, Javi Garcia, Marc Batra, Antonio Baragan, Giovani Lo Celso, Andres Guardado (Zouhair Feddal 66’), Cristian Tello, Sergio Canales, Loren Moron (Diego Lanez 81’), Antonio Sanabria (Sergio Leon 71’)

Goals: Tello 12’, Loren Moron 54’, Sergio Canales 94’

GIRONA XI (3-4-3): Yassine Bounou (GK), Juanpe, Bernado, Pedro Alcala, Valery Fernandez (Marc Muniesa 72’), Aleix Garcia, Pere Pons, Pedro Porro (Jonas Ramalho 61’), Borja Garcia, Cristian Portu, Seydou Doumbia (Douglas Soares 78’)

Goals: Aleix Garcia 36’, Seydou Doumbia 44’

La Liga Real Betis Girona Tactical Analysis Statistics
The starting XI

Real Betis analysis

Real Betis made three changes to the side that was beaten by Real Madrid last time out. Cristian Tello, Javi Garcia, Loren Moron came into the fold, while Francis, William Carvalho and Joaquin dropped to the bench. The system changed too, from a 4-3-3 versus Real Madrid, they used a 3-4-1-2 with Javi Garcia alongside Mandi & Batra, Antonio Sanabria up front with Loren who scored in the reverse fixture at Montiivi. New signing Diego Lainez was on the bench.

La Liga Real Betis Girona Tactical Analysis Statistics
The defenders in yellow, the midfielders in blue and the forwards in green. We can see how high is Sergio Canales. He was the one who supported the duo.

Only Barcelona (65.1%) have had more possession than Real Betis (64.9%) in La Liga this season. Nothing has changed during this match, the Verdiblancos keep the ball 59.5% of the time and with 85% pass success, they kept Girona under pressure in the first half even if the Catalan side play a high defensive line.

Cristian Tello opened the score on free-kick from the edge of the box. It was his 2nd goal in La Liga, and they’ve both been free kicks. He dedicated his goal to teammate Sidnei after his father sadly passed away minutes before the game.

And then, Canalesimo

What a week for Sergio! He scored against Real Madrid, Real Sociedad and in this game, he added another assist to his tally, after leading the counter and allowing Loren to equalize for Los Beticos and scored in the 92th minute to punish Girona.

La Liga Real Betis Girona Tactical Analysis Statistics
While Loren continues to progress behind the last centre-back, Y. Bounou continued to fall back whereas he had to stand in the six yards to cover a through ball.

And this happened:

With his control, Sergio Canales has three possibilities: to shoot (in red), to find Loren through (blue) or play easier (yellow). Finally, he chose the third option. Bounou can’t intercept anymore.

The Girona midfield suffered against him. He completed the most passes (81) in the match with 90% of success. Dangerous, he was fouled twice. He was also important in recuperation with 13 recoveries and two interceptions. He is a key player in the Setien’s project to make Real Betis a serious contender for Europe. The socios count on him to help the team to reach a bigger step.

La Liga Real Betis Girona Tactical Analysis Statistics
He was simply everywhere.

The former Real Sociedad playmaker, in 17 La Liga games, has only two assists and four goals but he means more than these statistics because he has on average 55 passes/game with 88% success. He’s usually involved in the offensive moves with 1.7 key passes per game. He’s knocking at the Luis Enrique’s door for the next fixtures with the Spanish national team.

Girona analysis

Eusebio Sacristan played his best possible starting XI without striker Christian Stuani, who had scored the opening goal on six separate occasions this season, more than any other La Liga player. The Uruguayan forward was suspended for five yellow cards. Seydou Doumbia led the line in his absence and they have a couple of talented teenagers as wingbacks in Pedro Porro and Valery (both 19).

Betis led 1-0, then Girona applied intense pressure to equalize.

La Liga Real Betis Girona Tactical Analysis Statistics
Girona used a 1v1 marking. Real Betis countered with long balls (45).

Finally, it paid off, causing Barragan to make a mistake in his pass back to Pau Lopez. They equalized through Aleix Garcia. Then Doumbia got the second just before half time from another mistake.

La Liga Real Betis Girona Tactical Analysis Statistics
Only Aissa Mandi was able to intercept the ball but he was too slow. Doumbia was free to put in the ball in the net

Portu the exception

Girona’s Portu scored his first brace in La Liga and his only goals away from home in the competition since playing Betis at Benito Villamarin back in November 2017. Despite losing seven of his ten duels and was dispossessed four times, the offensive midfielder was very active on the attacking front. I really appreciated his involvement. He created the most chances (five) in the match and assisted twice. Can we ask more?

The old habits remain

This season the team who have conceded the most penalties are Girona. Before the game, they had six. Like a habit they can’t drop, in the 92nd minute, Douglas Luiz who replaced Seydou Doumbia conceded a foul in the penalty area. Sergio Canales converted the penalty with a left-footed shot to the bottom left corner. After the celebrations, it was too late for Girona to equalize.

Eusebio Sacristan has to work the mental resilience of the team. They have conceded many penalties. Is it inexperience or an excessive aggressiveness? 60 duels lost, 12 fouls, 4 yellow cards, 12 tackles succeeded on 21 attempted. The Catalan team has already conceded 26 goals that’s why they don’t win often (only five wins). Even though they have just booted Atletico out of the Copa del Rey win a late draw 3-3, Eusebio Sacristan should upgrade his team defensively to finish in the top half of La Liga. With Porro and Valery as wingers, Granell as free-kick specialist, Portu, Stuani, Borja Garcia up front, he has enough weapons but still can’t find the team chemistry to be hard to beat like the 5th, Alaves.

Girona still don’t know what it is to win in La Liga in 2019. If they don’t want to finish at the bottom of the table, Sacristan has to find a starting XI who will try to make that change. Sacristan’s men are the team with the fewest shots attempted (191) and with the second most shots on target faced (112) after Levante (124) in La Liga this season.


Real Betis and Girona have faced three times previously in La Liga, with Girona winless against Betis in the competition (a draw and two defeats). Quique Setien’s men remain on 29 points in 7th place. Girona are five points behind Real Betis in 10th place. This game shows how competitive La Liga is now with these mid-table teams playing attacking football.

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