Real Betis vs Getafe is the closing match of La Liga’s fourth fixture. It’s a tough opposition between two extremely different but promising teams. Getafe is still looking for their first La Liga win of the season. They drew two matches and lost one in their previous fixtures. On the other hand, the Andalusian team is also struggling.
I will try in this tactical analysis article to discuss the different details that decided this game.
Since his appointment, Joan Ferrer, Betis’ new manager, tends to align a 5 midfield-system with a single forward. The idea appears explicitly in most of the matches. His tactics can be sometimes, read as 4-4-2 or 4-1-3-2 with two attackers. He finally went with a single attacker system with a midfielder just behind, who plays a hybrid role between a classic 10 and a supporting attacker.
Against Getafe, Ferrer aligned a classic 4-5-1 with Sergio Canales and Nabil Fekir as the main threats. José Bordàlas put on a 4-4-2 system with the idea to maintain a compact defensive block.
Real Betis’ first steps in the build-up
The first half was particularly interesting for multiple reasons. It is, in my opinion, a good example of some typical successes and failures for a possession-based team. I will start with the analysis of the first part of the team’s possession phase.
So, this starts with the ball-exit phase where Betis’ coach chose two strategies to advance with the ball. If the ball holder is the keeper, he tries to find Borja Iglesias who is the team’s target-man. In this situation, Real Betis’ players try to occupy the whole width of the pitch. The two side backs stick to the line whilst the midfielders occupy various positions in the centre. This aims essentially to stretch the opponent’s block. If it did not, it can at least distract the opponent players as it spreads their attention over multiple zones.
Meanwhile, the unique forward drops back a few meters to intercept his keeper long balls. He tries to control the ball and give it to his team-mates. He did also, at this level, attract opponent’s central defenders so his back passes can rapidly progress into in-depth passes for team-mates running into spaces. This is the first possible scenario for the first step of Real Betis’ build-up.
Here is an image that can well illustrate this kind of situation.
It turns that it worked quite well, at least at this stage of the play. Both Robles and Iglesias made respectively successful passes and ball controls.
The hosts did also progress along the field due to their defenders’ work. For this, they often initiate their attackers, when the ball is with one of the central defenders, with three players. William Carvalho, before his exclusion, dropped back either to run with the ball or to prevent one of the two opponent attackers from pressing his third team-mate. The idea is to free space ahead of one of the three players, so he can advance with the ball.
Here are two different situations where Carvalho plays an essential role cited above.
On the first image, he had space, time and multiple passing options. Here, Getafe’s forwards were unable to cover the space in front of the Carvalho due to the fact that they tried to prevent a potential pass to one off the centre backs in his shoulders that can lead into progression through the flanks.
He tried, on the second picture to drop an attacker and leave space for his left centre-back.
Real Betis further achievements
Further up on the pitch, Real Betis did some great job in other sectors. One relevant thing to note is the huge presence around the ball holder in the mid-third. We did also see some interesting triangular connections and well-thought movements.
Either on the flank or at the centre of the pitch, the ball holder disposes of multiple pass options. To do so, all of the three attacking midfielders: Fekir, Joaquin and Canales did navigate through different positions. We did see all of the three players in all midfield positions. Here are the three heatmaps that can confirm this. Without knowing the player’s position on paper it is quite hard to get it from the graphs.
The idea is to populate the zone around the ball holder and to offer him multiple pass options. All of the forward players need to move to create a coherent configuration around the player who has possession. The nearest players follow the ball movement to provide direct passing options while the novelty is that the farthest ones do stay quite close to the ball also. They remain in these positions as they are the potential ‘second’ receivers.
To illustrate this, we can look at the images above. In the first one, you can see Sidney with the ball who could easily find Canales, Carvalho or Iglesias. Fekir and Joaquin are not very far and able to receive a second pass. A similar situation occurs in the second picture, this time on the central lane with Mandy carrying the ball.
Last but not least, you can take a look at this good example of third man principle. Carvalho, Kaptoum and Canales closeness made it possible to create a passing channel between all of the three. The first two who plays originally in the centre moves respectively to the right flank and the right half-space.
Getafe’s pragmatism and Betis’ failures
Unfortunately for the hosts, there were not only bright sides during the match. Betis struggled in two essential sectors due to technical and tactical errors but also to Getafe’s amazing organisation. The first ‘natural’ problems will obviously come in the transition attack – defence phase for a possession-based team. Due to their tendency to occupy the width during different phases of the play, some big spaces appeared between the central defenders and the side-backs. This had some dramatic consequences and resulted in some big chances for the visitors, a penalty and a red card for Betis. Often, the gap in the flanks it too huge at the start of the build-up phase and a ball loss at that precise moment is crucial. Getafe side midfielders did take profit of this by making super fast runs into these spaces once the ball recovered.
On another hand, El Geta made a great effort to stop their opponents from creating goal-scoring chances. In fact, they neutralised their movements on the final third of the pitch. Whatever the progression type made by Real Betis, they rarely succeed to combinate around the opponent’s penalty box. Getafe made this a very difficult task. They get back to position and defend around 20 meters from their keeper whenever Betis approach the final third. They put a lot of intensity in this phase of play and tried to asphyxiate the ball holder. Often, there were three to four players in the called ‘cooperation zone’. Thus, the player on the ball sees either a fruitless solution or no solution at all.
Both teams have shown some great ideas in different ways. Getafe FC remain faithful to what made their success last season. There is still a lot of energy, combativeness, and intensity in different phases of play. Of course, there are still plenty of things to improve. This concerns particularly the early pressing phase that could be of great importance in some circumstances. Real Betis seemed to gain more and more in confidence. The only negative point is the mismatch between the number of highly skilled players and the lack of solutions in the final third.
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