Monday, 16 September 2013

Real Betis vs Valencia - Different ways to use a No. 10

Real Betis 3 - 1 Valencia
September 15th 2013
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An interesting match up that on paper sees the 2 sides play with the same shape. However, the way they decided to use their 5th midfielder (Sevilla vs Banega) differed and ultimately decided the outcome of the game.

Betis seemed to actually take a more attacking shape when not in possession. Sevilla would play as the 5th man in midfield when they had possession but as soon as they lost the ball he would join Molina up front and Betis would actually defend in a  4-4-2. Valencia would stick to a more orthodox 4-5-1 with wide players tracking back and trying to overload the centre of the park

To stop Valencia over running them in the middle of the park Betis held a very high line and condensed the field. Juanfran or Vadillo would tuck inside when the ball was on the opposite flank, leaving Valencia's opposite full back open, but meaning that there was no room in the middle for Romeu, Parejo and Banega to exploit.

It's important to note that Pereira had a very poor game for Valencia at right back. He often found he had time and space on the ball, having 91 touches during the game, but his passing was poor, only completing 77% of his passes. Betis may not be able to do this against better sides

Betis defend as a 4-4-2 pressing Valencia's defence
The high defensive line allowed Molina and Sevilla to press as a pair without leaving too much space behind them. Valencia's defence often found themselves struggling under pressure when in possession. With the middle of the park crowded, Valencia looked for long inaccurate balls. This is what Betis would have hoped for, with Postiga winning 0 aerial duels all game and being caught offside 4 times, with Valencia's front 3 were caught offside a total of 8 times.

Another long ball trying to get over the compact Betis team
In comparison, the front 3 of Betis were only caught offside twice. The Betis wide men seemed to be attacking from deeper positions, where as Valencia's wide men were forced higher up the field and couldn't receive the ball to feet  due to the defensive shape of Betis

1st goal: 9th minute

The high pressing of Betis cuts out the defenders passing options, and as the passing becomes more predictable Betis increase the pressure, leading to a  sloppy pass which is intercepted and leads directly to the opening goal.

Sevilla drops of defence and exploits static Valencia
2nd goal: 22nd minute

Sevilla actually plays deeper when Betis have the ball and plays higher up when they do not have possession. Betis gain possession and he drops deep to find space, then passes through the Valencia midfield and runs past 5 defenders to receive the ball back in on goal.

3rd goal: 34th Minute

Betis have a great defensive shape again, they are compact and as soon as they win the ball they play forward early. They break down left and as Sevilla was already pressing high up Betis already have 2 options in front of them against Valencia's back line

Key points:
During the game Valencia had more possession and a better pass completion than Betis, but were not able to get into dangerous areas due to the hard work of Betis. Valencia failed to use the space they had out wide well enough, and Betis were decisive and clinical with more attempts on goal. Valencia's consolation goal came in the second half, a header from a set piece.

The hard work and pressing of Sevilla and Molina combined with the high defensive line allowed Betis to stifle Valencia. Rather than sit and wait fearing a 3 vs 2 in the middle Betis took stepped higher up to squeeze space and pressed the ball before it could get to Valencia's central 3. Adding to this, the defenders of Betis would quickly start attacks taking minimal touches before looking for a forward pass when regaining possession to try and exploit how high Sevilla and Molina already were

Man of the Match: Salva Sevilla

All match statistics from

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