Getafe concede the least amount of shots per game in La Liga — one better than Real Madrid’s strong defensive blueprint. Often known for their defensive barricades and aggressive style of football (apparent tonight after 15 seconds, when David Timor clocked Isco and received a yellow card), Getafe are also one of the most aggressive high-pressing teams in Spain.
Tonight at Valdebebas, Pepe Bordalas’s men made life difficult for Real Madrid’s build-up. They forced Zidane’s defenders to funnel passes to the full-backs, while they rotated over to press the flanks as soon as it got there. Bordalas put pressure on Carvajal and Mendy to evade a press on their own — hounding them immediately while working in sync to block off the passing lanes to Casemiro, Modric, and Isco. If Carvajal didn’t zip the ball quickly enough, Getafe pounced for an attack. If Mendy didn’t dribble his way out of Nyom’s press, Getafe would thieve possession high up the pitch.
Normally Isco in a diamond role is a good release valve in these situations. But the Spaniard’s touch tonight was leg-heavy (as was Luka Modric’s when he got into good positions), and Getafe were foot-perfect with their defensive actions. It took a perfect, quick-zipping passing sequence to actually catch Getafe. Those sequences didn’t come too often. There was an over-reliance on Karim Benzema to drop deep to connect with the deep-lying playmakers. Getafe made it a point to double-up on both flanks defensively. Damian Suarez and Nyom worked well in sync defending Vinicius. (Although the one weapon Real Madrid found often enough was a Mendy overload to get the ball into good positions on the flank, and that led to a big chance in the first half). Cucurella was relentless in his pressing on Carvajal.
It should be noted that twice this game, Courtois misplaced a routine pass. The passing out of the back was stifled overall.
At half-time, there wasn’t much to be encouraged by, and Getafe were successful in implementing a solid defensive structure to unnerve Real Madrid’s ball-carriers. But, Zidane’s men could easily have been up 1-0 if not for a point-blank David Soria save on Vinicius.
In the 64th minute, Zidane made three subs at once: Asensio for Vinicius; Fede Valverde for Luka Moric; Rodrygo for Isco. Valverde brought some much-needed energy, and Rodrygo gave a much-needed presence on the right flank to keep Cucurella honest. 15 minutes later, Rodrygo and Carvajal combined to break Getafe’s press, and earn a penalty which Sergio Ramos converted:
I’m not sure what day is what anymore. Sergio Ramos scores a set-piece every game, and it’s all just blending into one giant memory en route to a strange title run.
We’ll break this down in more detail on tonight’s podcast.