FC Barcelona – Getafe: Vidal Saves Barca Blushes Against Compact Getafe (2-0)

LaLiga winners Barcelona relied on individual performances and were forced to adapt their approach along the way. Getafe had great chances to score, but failed to capitalize a below-par Barca, as they lose hold of their fourth spot in the table.  

Tactical analysis and match report by Joel Parker.

With the league wrapped up and a Copa del Rey final in the books, Barcelona’s match at home against Getafe would suddenly be of great importance. The pressure on Ernesto Valverde has ramped up to new levels, following a shameful performance at Anfield. How Barcelona would react against LaLiga’s fourth-placed team might be pivotal for Valverde’s job at Camp Nou. Strange era we live in, in which a manager at a super club can win the title and still be under pressure for not winning the Champions League.

Valverde made two changes, Marc-André ter Stegen was replaced in goal for Jasper Cillenssen, whilst Malcom returned to the squad, in for Luis Suárez, rotating from the 4-4-2 formation used away to Liverpool, to a 4-3-3 shape.

Getafe’s season has gone from strength to strength, undoubtedly one of the surprise stories of the campaign. Based off an incredibly compact and strong defense, only Atlético Madrid have conceded less goals than José Bordalás’ team going into this match. Victory in Barcelona would all but confirm Champions League football for the first time ever next season, defeat could see Valencia or Sevilla back in contention. Getafe also made two changes to their starting line-up following a 2-0 home victory against Girona. Center-back Bruno González was replaced by Ángel Rodríguez and Gaku Shibasaki came in for striker Jaime Mata, rotating from a 4-1-3-2 formation to their usual 4-4-2 system to start with.

Getafe structure holds firm against lacklustre Barcelona

The match started as predicted, Barcelona dominating possession whilst Getafe remained compact, narrow and overloaded When one team has more players in a certain area or zone than the other team. the central areas. Bordalás’ team’s job was made very easy with Barca’s shape all over the place when on the ball, struggling to transition the ball from midfield to attack. Both Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitić constantly dropped into the backline, forming a U-shape When a team has possession on the sides of the pitch and with their own central defenders, this is called a ‘U-shape’, because it resembles the letter U. . in possession. It resulted in pass-after-pass exchanged between the defense and midfield, before a poor pass or run into trouble won Getafe the ball back with ease.

Getafe’s 4-4-2 / 4-3-1-2 shape versus an unbalanced Barca formation.

Getafe rotated between two defensive shapes and used both 4-1-3-2 and 4-4-2 systems to combat Barcelona, both set up in a medium block. This gave them the option to force players out wide and press the flanks, whilst still having numbers in the middle if the press was beaten. Doing this was very effective, isolating all of Barcelona’s front men in the process.

Although not having long spells of possession, Getafe exploited individual errors and countered a very vulnerable Barcelona highline to create chances. Jorge Molina should have given them the lead, Ángel Rodríguez broke forward on the left flank and created a one-versus-one against Cillessen; only for Molina to sky the ball over. VAR also denied Getafe taking the lead, a move almost identical, but Molina just a yard offside when the ball was played to him.

The only way Barcelona could access the penalty area was by using long balls from deep positions, but this was comfortably dealt with by Leandro Cabrera and Djené. A combination of a static Barca and an organized Getafe meant that the hosts did not register a single shot until the 36th minute of the match, which is very uncommon for Barcelona at home.

Arturo Vidal the key to the lock as Barca’s passing improves

Arturo Vidal would give Barca the lead following Gerard Piqué’s header being brilliantly saved by David Soria, but Vidal’s role in midfield would be very important in breaking lines and giving Lionel Messi access to the ball. He was positioned the most forward out of the midfield three, but would make runs in and out of Getafe’s midfield line, soon being an important player in Barca’s passing sequences.

Barcelona’s shape gradually improved, with Busquets sitting just in front of the defensive line and Rakitić further forward in possession; rather than either man dropping into the defensive line. Getafe’s structure did not change – and was still very effective – but Barcelona enjoyed a few more opportunities in the second half.

Barcelona back in their usual ball-orientated 4-3-3 shape.

This was due to Barcelona having a lot more room between the lines, in comparison to the first half. Messi was able to roam between the defensive and midfield lines, instead of dropping further and further back to receive the ball.

After missing multiple chances to extend the lead, Valverde changed his team’s shape back into a 4-4-2 formation to see out the match, striker Abel Ruíz came on to make his Barca debut. Doing so enabled Getafe a few chances of their own, going more direct in their transitions forward and working off long balls to their attackers, in an attempt to grab an equalizer.

Getafe’s final chance of the game would smack the post from close range, Molina’s header inches away from a point; before Barcelona wrapped up the victory. A neat exchange of passes had a scrappy finish, Messi crowded out, the ball finding Sergi Roberto whose pass was poked in by Djené. All in all, a very undesirable match to watch, as Getafe will probably scratch their heads. If they ever could have gotten a result away at Barcelona, today was the day.


A game between La Liga’s first and fourth placed teams has a lot of potential, in reality, this was a game of very low quality. Barcelona’s meltdown in the Champions League had totally derailed their momentum and they could have very easily had been goals down in the first half an hour. Against a more organized counterattacking team, this could’ve been an awful result for Valverde, instead a few individual performances saved his blushes.

For Getafe, with some brilliant opportunities, this was a lost chance for a victory at Camp Nou and a big blow for their Champions League hopes. They gave Barcelona possession, but like we have seen a lot this season, their defensive structure was imperious for long periods. The result means Valencia have overtaken Getafe in the standings, but both are level on points. With Valencia travelling to Real Valladolid and Getafe facing Villarreal at home, there is a good chance that both can end the season level. However, with one goal difference between them, the Champions League dream is nowhere near dead for Getafe.

Match plots will be added to this article later.

Joel Parker (21) is an Everton fan. Whenever he’s not watching his beloved Everton, Joel spends his time analyzing all sorts of football. Chief editor and Founder of Toffee Analysis. [ View all posts ]


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