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Getafe: From the Depths of the Segunda to LaLiga Contenders

Just over 3 years ago, Getafe were second from bottom in the Segunda Division, the second tier of football in Spain. Today, they are on the cusp of Champions League qualification. Stats Perform look the numbers being the Blues meteoric rise.

By: David Perales, Oliver Hopkins

We’ve played 27 matches in La Liga this season and Getafe’s numbers speak for themselves:

46 points, 37 goals scored and just 25 conceded.

Never in their previous 14 campaigns in the top-flight have they reached such heights. Currently in fifth position, Getafe are locked on points with fourth-place Real Sociedad, and even more importantly, trail third-place Sevilla by just a single point. With the two places above them within immediate striking range, José Bordalás’ side are well-positioned to challenge for the top four and seal an unlikely Champions League qualification.

So how did little Getafe, a club with the fourth-lowest budget of all 20 teams in LaLiga, come this far?

Getafe CF under José Bordalás 

Getafe were 23rd in the Segunda when they turned to current manager José Bordalás. Bordalás managed them to promotion at the first time of asking and then led them to 8th and 5th place finishes in their two seasons back in LaLiga. Getafe also reached the quarter-finals of the Copa Del Rey last term, losing to eventual winners Valencia.

Liverpool under Jürgen Klopp, Atalanta under Gian Pero Gasperini or RB Leipzig under Julian Nagelsmann are examples of perfect symbiosis between teams and managers – clubs with a clear identity – whose playing style on the pitch matches their managers’ philosophies.  The same can be said for Getafe under José Bordalás, whose aggressive and battle-hardened approach to the game makes his side a nightmare to play against. Bordalás won’t settle for anything less than 100% from his players.

Getafe’s Playing Style

Bordalás’ rallying cries are demonstrated by the intensity with which his side plays.  Getafe currently boast the most fouls conceded in LaLiga (514, 19 per game), and their game plan is all about relentlessly pressing their opponent high up the pitch. The Blues have the third-most recoveries in the opposition half (429) in the league and they aim to win back possession in dangerous locations from which they are then able to create high-value chances.

Getafe do not enjoy long spells of possession. Instead, whenever Getafe win back the ball they transition from defence to attack very quickly. The Madrid side are the only team not to reach 300 passes per game this season (299 on average), far behind pass-masters Barcelona’s 684 passes per game. But while the Blaugranas need almost 300 passes to score in LaLiga 2019/20 (293.3), the Blues score a goal every 218 passes they attempt.

Looking at Stats Peform’s sequences metric illustrates Getafe’s desire for a high-intensity press and subsequent quick transition.

PPDA – opposition passes per defensive action in the attacking two-thirds of the pitch – can be used an an effective proxy for pressing. PPDA allows us to see which teams are the most effective out of possession in disrupting their opponents, and how aggressive they are in doing so. Getafe’s 9.1 PPDA is the lowest in the league. Sevilla, Barcelona, Espanyol and Real Sociedad make up the top five.

Getafe PPDA LaLiga

In possession, their average sequence time of 4.5 seconds is the lowest in the league, and they get the ball forward quicker than any other side. Their direct speed of play – the metres a team advance the ball toward the opposition goal per second – is the fastest in the league at 2.24 m/s.

Getafe quick transitions LaLiga

Looking at sequences containing at least 10 passes, Getafe rank second-bottom in LaLiga with just 18 of such phases, light years away from the team at the top of these rankings, Barcelona (522).

The Getafe game plan is simple. Pressure high up the pitch, steal the ball back and strike quickly. In an interview with El Mundo, Bordalás summed up his philosophy in no uncertain terms:

“What’s the point of having 30 touches in your half of the pitch without moving forward? People have started to confuse lengthy possession with good football.”

Their long ball percentage of 27% (the highest in the league) gets them into the opposition half without fuss, where they then play. They have the highest proportion of passes in the opposition half (72%) in LaLiga (the league average is 56%).

Smart Shot Locations

Due to this style of play it’s imperative that Bordalás gets his side to maximise every goal scoring opportunity they get. Despite their lowly shot numbers (288 in total, 14th in the league) and 96 shots on target (13th in the league), the 37 goals they’ve scored this campaign is eighth-best. Their shot conversation rate of 12.8% is the fourth-best in the league. Ángel Rodríguez  and Jaime Mata have been key in this regard with shot conversion rates of 25% and 20% respectively.

Looking at the location of their goals this season gives us an indication that Getafe focus on shooting when in good positions. In fact, every single one of Getafe’s goals this season, excluding the two pieces you can see below, has been inside the box.

Getafe shot locations laliga 2019/20

We can use expected goals to further analyse Getafe’s shooting. Due to the quality and location of their chances, this metric tells us that Getafe ‘ought’ to have scored 5.5 fewer goals (31.5) than they have actually scored (37). This overperformance ranks them second in the league, behind only Barcelona.

LaLiga Expected Goals overperformers by team

Defensive Quality

Bordalás’ intensity and direct style of play also brings defensive strength. Getafe have conceded the fourth-fewest goals in the league so far (25) and their total of 12 clean sheets has only been bettered by Real Madrid (13).

Defensive resilience is often associated with the back line sitting deep to absorb pressure. But Getafe’s high-press is the opposite, instead forcing their opponents into hurried passes that prevent them from progressing the ball toward the Blues’ goal. That Getafe have conceded the fewest shots (199) in the league this season is testament to that approach, and they’ve caught their opponents offside more times than any other team (108).

Despite pundits and journalists often criticising Getafe’s ‘negative’ style of play, Bordalás is simply playing by his strengths, relying on the qualities and abilities of his players to help Getafe punch above their weight.

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