Getafe hosted Valencia in this week’s La Liga round 23 fixture. Getafe got off to a bad start with only two wins in their first seven league matches, but has then played really well, which earned them a spot in the top three. Meanwhile, Valencia’s performances this season have been those of a mid-table team, but overperforming results have put them firmly in the competition for a Champions League spot.
In this tactical analysis, we will delve into both sides’ tactics, and how Getafe totally destroyed Valencia.
Getafe (4-4-2): David Soria; Mathias Olivera, Xabi Etxeita, Djené, Damián Suárez; Marc Cucurella, Nemanja Maksimović, Mauro Arambarri, Allan Nyom; Jorge Molina, Jaime Mata.
Valencia (4-4-2): Jaume Doménech; José Gayà, Mouctar Diakhaby, Gabriel Paulista, Alessandro Florenzi; Carlos Soler, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Dani Parejo, Ferrán Torres; Maxi Gómez, Rodrigo.
Getafe in possession
Getafe is certainly not a team that tries to play from the back. Their possession play relies heavily on long balls and winning second balls. Statsbomb showed that they are the side with the highest goalkeeper pass length in La Liga (60.05 yards/match). The same happened in this match.
They would try to send long balls towards their centre forwards. The whole team (except for the centre-backs) would push high and try to stay around where the ball would land. The aim was to win second balls and counterpress intensely should the opponent get the ball. In this example, Damián sent the ball towards Mata, who was surrounded by Nyom, Molina and the double pivot. The two ball-far wide players also moved more centrally.
Getafe attacked mainly through the flanks, with their double pivot more famous for breaking up play than making incisive passes. The pair has only generated 0.3 key pass per match in total this season.
Getafe’s chance creation relied on wide players, most notably Cucurella and Damián. They were supported by their wide teammates and the strikers’ wide support movements. When the ball was on either flank, one striker usually moved wide to create a triangle with the wide players, giving his side a numerical advantage against the opponent’s wide players. The other striker and the ball-far winger, and sometimes a pivot would wait in the box for a cross. In the below example, Molina moved wide to help create a 3v2 on the left against Valencia’s wide players.
Winning the ball high up the pitch and launching a bunch of crosses was Getafe’s strategy in the first half. Two-thirds of their crosses (22/33) were in the first half. The most prolific crossers of the night were Cucurella (11 crosses) and Damián (10), but only 3 of their crosses combined were accurate.
Cucurella was once again Getafe’s main chance creator, registering five key passes (highest of the night). He showed flexible movements, always looking to combine with nearby teammates. When Getafe attacked through the left, Cucurella’s dribbles, one-twos and crosses were their main weapon. When they tried to do so from the right flank, Cucurella moved more centrally, trying to create dangerous chances from zone 14 and help his side win second balls if necessary.
With Nyom seriously lacking offensive qualities, Damián was Getafe’s only source of creativity on the right. Very disciplined defensively, he often tracked all the way back and then received the ball in a deep position. From there, he could make penetrative passes, most notably long diagonal passes towards the left flank. The Uruguayan could also bomb forward with crazy 50-meter sprints. He would then try to combine with Nyom (and sometimes a striker or pivot) to facilitates crosses. In the below example, he made a strong run from behind the half-way line towards the opponent’s goal line. Nyom and Molina all moved towards the half-space to combine with each other and Damián.
Of Getafe’s double pivot, Maksimović was often the one playing higher in possession, while Arambarri had much more of the ball and function as a deep playmaker, but his work rate allowed him to be seemingly everywhere in the middle third. The former made runs into the box to wait for crosses or try to win second balls, while Arambarri stayed deeper to provide cover.
After unsuccessful crosses, the players who were waiting in the box would instantly counterpress with great intensity, compacting the centre to force progression through the wings. In the below example, Maksimović immediately rushed back towards Kondogbia after a failed cross. Arambarri and Olivera were looking to block the opponent’s passing lane towards Rodrigo, and it was Olivera who intercepted the pass.
Getafe could launch waves after waves of attack by continuously winning loose balls, thanks to their team shape and counterpressing. Upon getting back the ball, Valencia’s double pivot were pressed from all sides by Getafe’s strikers and nearby midfielders. They had very little time and space to turn and scan the field, while most of their nearby passing options were blocked. After successfully forcing turnovers, Getafe could launch quick counters with their opponent rather unprepared. Valencia registered a surprisingly high 11 ball losses leading to an opponent’s shot in this match.
In the below example, Valencia had just won the ball back, with Kondogbia about to receive the ball. Molina and Arambarri immediately rushed towards him, giving the Central African almost no time to touch the ball and forced a turnover.
Here, Valencia had just won the ball back and Kondogbia was instantly surrounded by four Getafe players. He managed to pass to Florenzi, who was then closed down by Cucurella, while Getafe’s strikers rushed towards Valencia’s centre-backs. Diakhaby hoofed the ball away immediately upon receiving Florenzi’s pass.
Valencia, whose average pass accuracy in 2019/20 La Liga was 81.6%, registered a poor 66% in this match, largely due to Getafe’s counterpresses.
Valencia defended in their usual 4-4-2 mid-block, trying to stay narrow and compact, and moved their whole shape according to the ball position. The aim was to block central progression. The wingers would look to move out of position to press the opponent’s full-backs should either of them receive the ball.
Valencia in possession
Perhaps fearing Getafe’s high press, Valencia didn’t play from the back as often as usual. 25 out of keeper Domenech’s 30 passes were long. One of their main options was lobbed pass towards the Maxi, who is normally dominant in the air. However, he only won 4 out of his 9 aerials in this match. Getafe’s centre-back pair were tough to beat, winning 8 out of their 10 aerials combined.
Valencia used a 4-4-2 in possession, with Parejo and Kondogbia the playmakers. However in this match, the duo failed to help his side generate any long possession sequence, as the away side time and again failed to beat their rival’s press. Getafe tried to overload the centre by using a 4-1-3-2 out of possession, with the forwards trying to block passes towards Valencia’s double pivot with the support of Maksimović, and the wingers coming narrow. Arambarri stayed deeper to look after either Soler’s or Ferran’s inward movements depending on the position of the ball.
Getafe’s central overload often forced Valencia to progress through the flanks. The host’s ball-near winger would anticipate passes towards the opponent’s full-back and instantly close them down, while the ball-far winger moved more centrally as Getafe’s front players all shifted towards the ball side to press. In the below example, Molina pressed Paulista while still blocking his passing lane towards Kondogbia, forcing him to pass to Florenzi. Cucurella pressed the Italian, while Nyom marked Parejo and Arambarri followed Ferran.
When Valencia had the ball on the wings, Getafe’s wide players would be supported by the double pivot, who have great work rate and spatial awareness. Their tireless runs were key to help Getafe create a numerical advantage everywhere in the middle third. They put enormous pressure on Valencia’s wide men while still blocking central passing lanes. Valencia’s ball-near attackers were man-marked by the defenders.
In the below example, Djéne and Damián man-marked Maxi and Ferrán. Nyom and Maksimović closed down Gayà, with Maksimović covering the passing lane towards Kondogbia. Valencia’s left-back passed to Parejo, and Maksimović instantly moved to block the passing lane to Kondogbia, who was being closed down by Arambarri, while Mata closed down Parejo.
Getafe would defend in a 4-4-2 if Valencia could bypass their high press. When the ball was on either flank, the ball-far players would move narrow, while the ball-near wide players stayed wide and were supported by a nearby pivot. There were gaps between Getafe’s wide players and the other defenders, which were circled in the image below, but Valencia forwards couldn’t take advantage of them.
Damián is a very aggressive and physical player, and often stepped out of his position to press. In these situations, Nyom showed his worth by tracking back to cover for his teammate. In the above example, Damián enthusiastically pressed Soler, while Nyom took care of Gayà’s overlap.
Molina coming to life in the second half
Molina is a player capable of dropping deep, holding up the ball and creating chances for himself or his teammates through his calm turns, dribbles and through balls. Below is the incident that led to the first goal:
Molina received the ball between the lines, dribbled and then found Mata with a through ball. He eventually scored with a rebound from Mata’s shot. Kondogbia was not aware of Molina’s dropping movement in that incident. Coquelin would probably have done better.
After the goal, Getafe gradually loosened their press and dropped deeper and deeper, looking to beat Valencia on the counter. They scored two more goals, again with smart turns and dribbles, and a good connection between the striker duo.
In the end, Getafe completely dominated the match and won convincingly. Their well-structured high press was too intense for Valencia to handle. They have won their last four La Liga matches without conceding a goal, and are well on their way to qualify for the Champions League next season.
This analysis showed that Valencia’s lack of structure in possession caused them dearly, making it nearly impossible for them to get into Getafe’s third by organised possession. They successfully kept Getafe from creating too many clear chances in the first half, but was unable to deal with Molina’s skills and passes in the second. They have overperformed this season, but this match and the difficult matches ahead would likely bring them down to earth.