Heading into this important La Liga match, Sevilla were only one point clear of their opponents Getafe. This one point was the difference between a Champions League or Europa League place and was thanks to their previous win over Real Betis, as well as Getafe dropping points against lowly Real Valladolid. This ensured that Sevilla remained in the fourth and final Champions League position.
Getafe lined up in a very narrow 4-4-2 which looked more like a 4-2-2-2. All of their first team full backs were out due to injury, and they were forced to play two centre backs in those positions (Leandro Cabrera and Bruno Gonzáles). This, however, did not stop them from bombing up the pitch, becoming the only width in Getafe’s narrow system. Nemanja Maksimović and Mauro Arambarri were paired as a double pivot ahead of the defence. A narrow pairing of Hugo Duro and Jaime Mata played behind Gaku Shibasaki, who played as a wide striker alongside veteran Jorge Molina.
Sevilla matched their opponent’s formation, with the main difference between the two being that Sevilla played with much more width, and more defensive fullbacks in Sergio Escudero and Mercado. The pair stayed very much in line with centre backs Gómez and Kjaer, allowing Jesús Navas, (who provided the width on the right) and Franco Vázquez (who tucked in behind the strikers) to have less defensive responsibilities.
Getafe attacking play
Despite scoring three goals, Getafe will not receive any plaudits for the quality of their football. They, as usual, did not dominate possession, (Getafe have an average possession rate of 43.3%, La Liga’s lowest) they only had 36% of the ball. José Bordalás’s side have come under some scrutiny for their ugly but effective football, which was just as effective against Sevilla. Getafe are known for their long ball football, which is quite a one-dimensional way of looking at this particular style. No team can get promoted and challenge for European Football for two consecutive seasons by just playing the ball up the pitch. Especially in a league as strong as La Liga.
Getafe often looked to give their opponents a positional dilemma by playing long balls into the half spaces. If the opposing fullback goes to track the runner, space is left out wide. Likewise, if the opposing centre back tracks the run, he will leave a gap in the centre of defence. This leaves gaps for the inside forwards or midfield runners to exploit and create goalscoring opportunities.
The image above shows how Getafe play long balls to the half spaces. This was to create gaps when a Sevilla player is dragged out of position when he is forced to track a run.
Getafe pressed intensely to win the ball back high up the pitch in areas that are dangerous for their opponents. Getafe pressed in a pass-lane oriented fashion by only having one player press the man on the ball and having the rest of the players cut out the passing options.
Besides conceding two penalties and having a man sent off, Sevilla made the mistake of allowing Getafe to play their own game. Out of possession, Sevilla would defend in a 4-1-4-1 formation to limit space in-between the lines. They did not press Getafe’s defenders nearly enough and continuously allowed them to execute their game plan without much resistance. They would rather look to keep their shape than go out and press.
Sevilla in possession
Sevilla’s attacking gameplan was relatively simple, get the ball out wide, and get a cross in for Ben Yedder. The first half of this plan worked out well. Only 23% of Sevilla’s attacks were central, and the away side put in 18 crosses. However, the final product wasn’t there. Ben Yedder only managed one shot inside the box during the match.
Red cards force formational changes
It wasn’t much of a surprise when both sides were reduced to 10 men. Getafe and Sevilla are joint first and third respectively when it comes to the accumulation of red cards. Djené’s dismissal for Getafe did not really impact the game very much, as they were already in “cruise control”, but they did shift to a 3-2-3-1 formation with the sending off of their star centre back, with Cabrera and Gonzáles slotting back into their regular positions
Sevilla’s dismissal had much more of a tactical impact on the game. Escudero was shown a second yellow for handling the ball in the penalty area in first half stoppage time. After the left back was sent off, Sevilla changed to a lopsided 3-4-2, with Quincy Promes coming on at the interval as a left winger to provide more balance on that side of the field. Mercado slotted into a central defence position alongside Gómez and Kjaer to create a back three.
Sevilla gave Getafe a literal and figurative helping hand. They played into Getafe’s hands and were deservedly punished, losing 3-0. After this important victory, Getafe leapfrogged their opponents into a Champions League position.