Match week 27. Getafe, fresh off a victory in match week 26 are still on their quest to clinch a first-ever UEFA Champions League football berth, and they went up against a Celta Vigo team that is pushing towards staying within La Liga and their last five games show good promise as their unbeaten run continues to four games (two wins and two draws).
A win in this game would have taken Getafe into third spot, and provided Sevilla didn’t win, would give them a two-point gap between them as they enter the final stages of the league.
On the other hand, a win for Celta Vigo would have taken them above Eibar in 16th and three points ahead of relegation. So this game was definitely a must-win for both teams in their approach and the final outcome. This tactical analysis of the match aims to evaluate how close to the desired result each team was and what halted them from claiming victory.
Getafe lined up in their regular fashion in the 4-4-2 that has been a staple of their success this season with Jorge Molina and Jaime Mata upfront. Celta entered the game with their 5-4-1 shape with Feder Smolov as the central striker and target man and a very deep-lying back five in defence that had the mindset to not lose and hopefully leave the game with at least a point.
Celta’s backline stayed very wide during the game trying to isolate the Getafe players as they often defended in a narrow shape. By hugging the touchlines, they forced the Getafe players to cover more ground during their press. With the opposition stretched, it allowed Celta to counter on the mistakes of Getafe; through interceptions and then to utilize their playmakers like Rafinha to dictate the tempo of the game as well as present chances for the likes of Smolov and Santi Mina.
Celta’s pragmatic approach
As seen in the average position image below you can see that from the outset there was a glaring difference in the tactics used by both teams. Getafe were quite narrow in shape as aforementioned but very high up the pitch. In contrast, Celta used a back five with a lot of space between the defenders to occupy the majority of the width of the field. But nine of the ten outfield players are positioned behind the halfway line.
This shows that they were willing to sacrifice the possession of the ball and allow Getafe to attack them. In fact, they finished the game with 43% possession in total and 8% of possession within the opposition’s box, showing that first and foremost their priority was not to concede.
Defensively, Celta’s game plan was perfect. They put on a real shift defensively and managed to keep a clean sheet and take a point away from home. They left the game with 67 interceptions with Hugo Mallo (12), Murillo (11) and Araújo (10) reaching double figures and a total of 22 clearances were made. The defence was easily able to read the plays that Getafe tried to used and cut them out in relatively simple fashion.
The high abundance of interceptions and lack of sliding tackles (two) also adds to the fact that Celta were defending so deep and this left no space for the strikers of the opposition to get in behind. Meaning the chances of recovery tackles and then slide tackles are reduced significantly as they are usually cutting out the ball before they need to be ready on the half-turn in order to recover the ball in rash challenges.
Getafe’s misfiring crosses
José Bordalás set up his Getafe side to get wide and produce crosses for his two strikers to get their head on to. Their position in the league currently (fourth) and their fifth-place finish last season would suggest that usually, this method is quite successful.
However, when the crosses aren’t effective the game does become quite predictable and one dimensional. Especially when a team set up as defensively as Celta did it is almost impossible to break their bank of five than four. The image below shows a cross by Getafe’s Marc Cucurella and the challenge that Getafe faced for the majority of the game.
Getafe were constantly crossing into an area where at least five Celta players are waiting to head the ball out of danger. Yet Getafe didn’t think to change this method and finished the game with 45 attempted crosses with 19 of them being accurate crosses (42%); the volume and accuracy rate is by no means a negative. Yet, Getafe had no goals to show for it, which means that they clearly weren’t dangerous in execution nor were they effective.
The image below indicates the amount of successful and unsuccessful crosses attempted by Getafe throughout the game. The majority coming over from the left-hand side but ultimately, they were not creating clear cut chances to score from as reflected in the xG for Getafe in the game which stood at 0.96.
A chance missed?
With Mauro Arambarri sent off in the 80th minute, Celta failed to capitalize on the advantage they had in the final ten minutes. Is this an opportunity that they will regret?
Constantly throughout the game, Celta had a lack of creativity or even a desire to try and score during the match. They finished the game with an xG of 0.64 but it should’ve been a lot lower. A total of 22 attacks with three ending with a shot, not even a counter-attack was recorded on their behalf.
The lack of impetus to try and score may have a harmful effect on their desire to stay within the league. Smolov was often left on an island in the game with barely any service and would often have to tuck in a lot deeper than he would’ve liked in order to get the ball.
The passing stats shown below show that only four through passes were attempted in the entirety of the game and one key pass. The lack of a plan B means if Celta do concede in the next game then there is a constant battle in order to get back something from the game as they have set up so defensively.
Celta Vigo go into the next week focusing on how to take away points from a struggling Villareal team sitting in eighth. I suspect them to set up again in a pragmatic fashion and take any points if possible from the game.
Based on the analysis of the game against Getafe, I would see them losing as Villareal do have the pace in order to get behind and the technical ability to pick apart Celta’s deep block. Their lack of alternative tactics in case they fall behind means that if they do see themselves going behind then it could be a heavy loss.
Getafe have an important two weeks coming up as they still have European commitments. Two games against Inter will take its toll on the thinly stretched team and a game against Granada sandwiched in between those two Thursdays will be a big ask for a team that hardly rotates their starting XI.
Inter Milan set up in a 3-5-2 and have amassed a plethora of defenders who are more than able to deal with the volume of crosses Getafe aim to deliver each game. So unless they can show there’s more to their game than crossing for the strikers, I do not see any victories forthcoming for them in their next three games.