Getafe – Barcelona: Barcelona prevail against Getafe pressing (0-2)
Getafe tried to press with a high defensive line against Barcelona. The away side had some success in outplaying this, but the game still ended up being a somewhat scrappy affair at times, which suited Getafe. Barcelona were not at their sparkling best and they conceded a couple of chances in the first half, but eventually managed to find goals from Luis Suárez and Junior Firpo to hand them the win.
Tactical analysis and match report by Josh Manley.
Barcelona have had a difficult start to the season, in particular with regards to their away form. In the league, they have lost away at surprise packages Athletic Bilbao and Granada, as well as dropping points against Osasuna. In their opening Champions League game, they were lucky to escape Dortmund with a draw. This game against Getafe then was an opportunity for Ernesto Valverde’s side to pick up their first away win of the season.
This task was made more difficult by the absentees in attack, most notably Lionel Messi, who sustained a further injury on his first start of the season last week. Also missing was Ansu Fati, who has been a revelation in recent weeks, as well as Ousmane Dembélé who has also suffered another injury setback after making his return as a substitute Villarreal last week.
All of this meant that Carles Pérez was again called up for a place in the starting lineup on the right wing of their 4-3-3 shape. Antione Griezmann took up the left wing role, with Luis Suárez in his familiar central role. Elsewhere Junior Firpo continued at left back in place of the injured Jordi Alba, and Sergi Roberto was chosen at right back over Nélson Semedo.
Getafe secured an impressive fifth place finish last season under the management of José Bordalás. Coming into this game, they were yet to lose since their opening day defeat against Atlético Madrid. They lined up in a 4-4-2 formation with loanees Jason and Marc Cucurella on each wing, supporting a striker pairing of Ángel and Jaime Mata.
Barcelona playing out against Getafe’s high press.
Barcelona against Getafe high pressing
When they had the opportunity to do so, Getafe would attempt to press Barcelona’s deep buildup when playing from the feet of Marc-André ter Stegen, maintaining a high defensive line and looking to win turnovers high up the pitch.
Barcelona’s structure in deep buildup is a familiar one by now, with Sergio Busquets dropping just in front of the wide-splitting center-backs, the fullbacks moving up onto the next line level with the central midfielders, and the front three looking to pin the opponent back four.
From their initial flat 4-4-2 structure Getafe formed a 4-4-2 diamond variation in high pressing to try and combat this. Usually, Nemanja Maksimović who was the central midfielder alongside Mauro Armabarri in their nominal 4-4-2, would push up to mark Sergio Busquets in pressing, making him temporarily the number ten in this 4-4-2 diamond they were creating.
The two strikers would then split to get close to the center-backs, while Getafe’s wide midfielders pulled slightly narrower into the halfspaces EXPLAINER to maintain compactness. This left the back four to deal with Barcelona’s three forwards.
With the central options for Barcelona harder to access, naturally the fullbacks were often an outlet for Barcelona when trying to play out. Once the ball reached the fullbacks, the Getafe wide midfielders would shift across to try and pressure the ball, at which point Frenkie De Jong and Arthur could try to make inside-to-outside runs towards the touchline to try and pick the ball up on the blind side EXPLAINER of Getafe’s wide midfielders.
Both fullbacks with most touches and a lot of the ball progression for Barcelona.
Alternatively, Busquets could look to free himself from Maksimović when the ball went wide, so Barcelona could try to play inside again. On the occasions where Barcelona broke the Getafe press, they tried to exploit the space behind Getafe’s defensive line, which sometimes remained high even when the pressure was broken.
Barcelona’s general shape in possession.
Against Getafe’s medium block
When Getafe were pushed back from their high pressing, the usually settled into a medium block, EXPLAINER this time in a compact flat 4-4-2, although still trying not to let their defensive line sink too deep.
For Barcelona in their nominal 4-3-3 system, Pérez would usually hold a high and wide position on the right wing, with Frenkie De Jong also often taking up relatively high positions around the right halfspace.
On the left meanwhile Griezmann would move quite far inside once Barca were higher up the pitch, often popping up in central positions behind Suárez, where he was able to receive line breaking passes in good positions on a couple of occasions.
Griezmann vacating the left wing meant that there was space for Firpo to push up higher. Arthur would often stay a bit deeper, and could sometimes rotate into the number six position occupied by Busquets in order to assist the buildup.
Barcelona often found themselves starting attacks from the left side, and finishing them on the right as Pérez maintained his aforementioned high and wide position on the right side, meaning he was in good positions when Barcelona worked the ball across from right to left.
These tactical aspects are unrelated to how Barcelona actually got their crucial opening goal though. That came about when ter Stegen rushed out to intercept a pass in behind the Barcelona defense, and cleared the ball into the space behind Getafe’s defensive line, into the path of Suárez who was able to lift the ball over the Getafe goalkeeper to make it 1-0 just before half-time.
This is far from your usual Barcelona territorial dominance.
Barcelona comfortable after second goal
Getafe might have felt as if they were unfortunate to go in behind at half time since they arguably had the better chances in the first half. Their own possession game was fairly basic. They relied a lot on long balls up to the strikers, winning second balls, turnovers high up the pitch, and otherwise shifting the ball into wide areas for crosses.
They at least made an attacking change at half-time, with left-back Allan Nyom being replaced by left winger Kenedy. This meant Barcelona loanee Cucurella moved to the left back slot, presumably in the hope that he would offer more attacking threat from that position than Nyom did.
There was little time to test that theory before Barcelona would get their second goal, just after half-time. This time the goal came from Firpo, again afforded the ability to get into advanced positions. He pounced on the rebound after goalkeeper David Soria could not hold onto Pérez’ long range shot and had an easy finish from close range to make it 2-0.
The second goal predictably made Barcelona somewhat comfortable, as they started having longer possession spells and generally were in control of the game for the bulk of the second half. Meanwhile it took the wind out of Getafe’s sails, as illustrated by the fact that Getafe did not register a second half shot until the 74th minute.
Valverde made a couple of substitutes coming into the closing stages, with Semedo coming on for Griezmann meaning Roberto moved further forward, and Ivan Rakitić replacing Busquets, meaning De Jong moved back to the number six position. These were perhaps changes trying to protect key players ahead of the midweek game against Inter in the Champions League.
There was one minor twist in the last ten minutes as Lenglet got himself sent off for a tackle from behind on substitute Jorge Molina. This meant Jean-Clair Todibo was needed as a substitute to fill in alongside Gerard Piqué for the final minutes, at the expense of Pérez who was replaced.
Barcelona saw the game out with a makeshift 4-4-1 shape, with Rakitić on the right of midfield, De Jong and Arthur in central midfield, and Roberto on the left. Getafe put pressure on again and managed to create a couple of shots, but Barcelona ultimately kept their clean sheet, winning the game 2-0.
This game could have been a problem for Barcelona given their away record, injuries and an opponent that is generally difficult to beat. The performance was not a classic by any means, but nevertheless good enough to deserve the win, especially once they settled the game down in the second half.
Getafe put in a respectable performance and could have been ahead in the first half. Barcelona did not exactly dismantle Getafe structurally for the goals they scored either. On another day the game could have gone differently, but Getafe faded in the second half once they went 2-0 down, with a brief resurgence after the Lenglet red card.
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