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Tactical Review: Real Madrid 3 - 1 Getafe; 2018 La Liga

Casemiro-Llorente midfield pairing creates possession issues at the start; but defensive solidity and Bale’s opener propel the hosts to a solid victory.

Real Madrid v Getafe - La Liga Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Real Madrid were looking to recover from their midweek loss against Espanyol (Real Madrid’s first in eight games) against Getafe. A win would allow them to draw closer to either Barcelona or Atletico. Despite the looming Champions League second leg against Paris Saint-Germain, Zidane started several key players including Isco, Ramos, Casemiro, Carvajal, and the BBC.

Soccerway website

Marcelo made his return to the team following his injury and was on the bench. LLorente partnered Casemiro in midfield while Nacho and Hernandez completed the defense.

Lack of central midfield presence

Casemiro and Llorente formed an interesting midfield pairing and the two were charged with organizing and coordinating the team’s offensive schemes. As we have come to realize, there is a noticeable impact on the team’s fluidity when both Modric and Kroos are absent and it was no different against Getafe. When in possession, Casemiro pushed up the field (sometimes going as far as the forward line) while LLorente retreated to support buildup. However, the Spaniard had a right side bias that many times created a vacated hole in central midfield. Possession was flat as a result and Real Madrid couldn’t achieve steady vertical progresson.

Real Madrid resort to long balls from deep due to missing midfield link.

They resorted to playing long balls from the back to try and reach the forwards as the midfield link was missing. This tactic wasn’t very successful but it made sense due to the speed of the BBC (Bale in particular) and Getafe’s sporadic high line.

Defensive solidity and Bale’s opener give Real Madrid the edge

Despite the offensive and possession issues the Casemiro-LLorente pivot had, they were exceptional on the defensive end. The value of having two players who are defensive midfielders by trade on the field at the same time was immediately apparent as their spacing and tracking was almost flawless. They worked well with Ramos and Nacho to ensure there was appropriate coverage. For example, when Carvajal pushed up – Llorente would re-position himself slightly more to the right to compensate.

The above noted defensive assurance combined with Bale’s opener triggered a phase of extended Real Madrid dominance as they began to play more expansively. This was marked especially by BBC and Isco’s guided movements and midfield support. Bale, particularly, was great in this respect and offered numerous outlets and created passing lanes. This was illustrated in the second goal of the match.

Although it wasn’t Bale who created the goal (Benzema was the man in question), the principle was the same. The French man dropped slightly to receive the ball from Casemiro and acted as the playmaker. He found Ronaldo with a deceptive pass. The rest of the play was down to Ronaldo’s brilliance as he used quick feet to evade defenders before perfectly placing the ball in the bottom corner.

Getafe score despite going down a man

Loic Remy and Nacho had a great battle throughout the first half with each earning a yellow card for a foul on the other. It didn’t take long for the two to collide again in the second half as Remy received a second yellow card for hitting Nacho with a flailing hand. Real Madrid didn’t waste time taking advantage of the man advantage as they put together several flowing sequences with intricate combinations — one in particular led to a great opportunity for Benzema in the box.

Despite dominating possession and displaying great dynamism through effective chance creation, Real Madrid didn’t add to their tally and were made to pay for it. Getafe had threatened on the counter once after the red card in a play that required a last ditch interception by Hernandez. Los Blancos weren’t so fortunate the second time the visitors tried to catch them on the break. Nacho dealt very poorly with a one-on-one situation and Getafe was awarded a penalty they converted.

The first mistake was Nacho’s misjudgement of Molina’s run allowing the latter to speed past him. After being beat, Nacho made a risky challenge from behind that was assessed to have been a foul and led to the penalty. Furthermore, Carvajal was in a much better position to challenge the attacker.

Marcelo makes immediate impact as the team closes out the game

Marcelo came off the bench for his first minutes since leaving the field with an injury against Real Betis. The Brazilian almost marked his return with a sumptuous assist for Ronaldo but the goal was called off due to a foul by the Portuguese. Real Madrid put significant pressure on Getafe and came very close to adding another with Ronaldo and Benzema being on the end of two the best of chances. It wasn’t all for nothing though as Ronaldo finally gave Real Madrid the desirable breathing room as he rose to nod Marcelo’s cross into the net.

The goal stood this time. Ronaldo was substituted for Asensio and Kovacic came in for LLorente. The rest of the game was played out without too much action as the players went into game management mode.


Real Madrid struggled to assert themselves in possession at the start of the game due to some issues posed by the combination of Casemiro and LLorente midfield. However, the defensive quality of both players as well as Bale’s opener allowed the game to open up and for the home team to express themselves more.

Understat website

The stats agreed with the eye test as the home team created better chances — both in quality and quantity — while neutralizing their opponents. The bulk of Getafe’s xG was the penalty goal. Real Madrid will hope to take the positives of the win today (along with Marcelo’s return) into the next game — which as it stands will be biggest game of the season to date.

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