Following victory over Athletic Club last weekend, Real Madrid were out to secure back to back wins for the first time this month. They were up against Getafe, one of La Liga’s most in-form teams as they mount a challenge for the top four at the Estadio Coliseum de Alfonso Pérez.
The tie would end goalless but not without chances as Karim Benzema, Jorge Molina and Jaime Mata all tested their rival goalkeepers. A draw suited neither side
Our tactical analysis will use statistics to identify what key points Zidane can take from the game as his team dropped points on the road yet again.
Despite speculation pre-match, Zidane opted for Keylor Navas in goal in favour of Thibaut Courtois yet again. Jesús Vallejo returned to the bench alongside Marcelo as Sergio Reguilón and Nacho started, with Gareth Bale given an increasingly rare start.
Getafe had their own selection dilemmas with Djené Dakonam suspended whilst José Bórdalas also moved striker Jaime Mata into midfield.
Brahim Díaz is one to watch
Another expected starter for Real Madrid was January signing Brahim Díaz. The former Manchester City starlet shone throughout, providing the spark that came close to finding a winner. Deployed on the right, he stuck to his role and moved freely, cutting back inside when he couldn’t find a way past down the flank.
Registering a team high of 13 dribbles, completing 11, in addition to three progressive runs, he was the driving force pushing his team forwards in the transition. His speed and footwork was too much for an ageing Getafe side who found it harder to predict what he would do next than his counterpart Bale.
Adding five touches in the box, retaining possession with them all, there was more to his performance than the flicks and tricks which caught the eye. Playing with the confidence of a veteran, he dared to keep pushing and taking men on as those around him grew frustrated and gave up. A new and youthful face in the side, it was Brahim who inspired Real Madrid.
Getafe’s rigid structure held out
Getafe have built a reputation and earned a top four place almost entirely on the basis of a tight defensive set-up. On Thursday evening, it again proved to be decisive. With a rigid 4-4-2, which became 5-4-1 in the defensive phase later on in the game, Zidane’s men were denied the space to get forward on the counter. They were instead allowed possession on the halfway line in front of the banks of four, denying Isco space to roam or the wingers the chance to use their pace.
Without Luka Modrić’s creativity in midfield, Fede Valverde’s limitations were on show. The transition was where Real Madrid struggled, too often being too slow to break forwards and allowing Getafe to get back in numbers. The result was that Real Madrid found themselves attacking a brick wall at times, without space for movement. Whilst there was not the incision that should be expected from the likes of Isco and Toni Kroos to break through the lines, Getafe countered the weaknesses in Real Madrid’s team selection well.
In fact, Real Madrid only found their way through once. That came in the opening minute as Isco dropped deep, pulling Mauro Arambarri out of position and creating a dilemma for Getafe’s makeshift defensive duo. Stepping up, they allowed Karim Benzema the half a yard of space he needed to make a run which Isco picked out after spinning his man. The centre-forward couldn’t apply the finishing touch and Getafe would not make the same mistake again.
Stopping the crosses worked
Not since the win over Levante in February have Real Madrid made fewer crosses in a single game. Getafe’s approach of dropping deep and overloading the box with defenders meant that the options simply weren’t on for a cross to be played.
For some, such as Isco and Brahim, there was an opportunity to adapt and look to cut inside and play their way through with short passes and technical touches, neat footwork dazzling the Getafe defence.
Others, such as Bale, struggled. He turned to desperation, making more crosses than anyone else with five, only one finding a target. He stuck to his approach of bombing down the wing and then cutting the ball back across the box despite it being clear that it was not the way to get results. Not so long ago he was the man that the team would turn to when under such pressure against a well-structured defence, finding a moment of magic or a burst of pace. This time, he looked the most predictable and frustrated of the lot.
Bale’s unclear role
Bale has found chances hard to come by of late and was whistled by fans once again as he started against Getafe. Yet again though, he failed to take his opportunity and cut a lost and isolated figure throughout. Deployed on the left, he barely influenced play and dropped deep and centrally to try to get more of the ball. It was a move without reward though, often tracked by man markers, and he failed to show the explosive pace that could have made the difference.
Of his four touches in the box, he lost possession with three of them, and failed to make a single shot. Such lack of cutting edge when in the final third is what Real Madrid fans have come to expect of the Welshman, whose confidence seems shot. Preferring to play a speculative pass across goal rather than take on his man or have a shot himself, he was the source of lost possession rather than a potential goal.
Seemingly playing a different role every time Zidane introduces him, it’s easy to see why consistency has been hard to come by when combined with his fitness struggles. It’s obvious that Bale has no role in Zidane’s plan, hence the constant experimentation with him on the right and then the left. Robbed of the chance to prove himself consistently, Bale has to be more clinical. His lack of influence is becoming increasingly concerning and will do little to convince potential summer suitors.
Getafe were always going to be tough opposition for a Real Madrid team with nothing to play for. If they make next season’s Champions League it will be no fluke, but rather thanks to how Bórdalas has shut down defensively against rival teams. Tactically, he outsmarted Zidane who was playing with one hand behind his back by selecting a line-up of players who would not be in his first choice team or who are desperately out of form. Had the game continued for another hour, a goal was unlikely to arrive for the visitors, who will again be considering how they can create more chances against defensive opposition who defend deep.
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