In a game where Barcelona came in knowing they would be needing a victory to sustain their lead, the Catalans managed to get the job done. Getafe was indefinitely going to be a tough opponent to break apart, and donned a style of play that Xavi’s men have struggled to break down in past games as well. Yet, despite the obvious mental and tactical hurdle, the team managed to string together a victory.
Putting it simply, the first half was rather lethargic. In terms of possession, as usual, Barcelona were dominant. Yet despite maintaining a massive 70% possession, they seemed out of sorts. Getafe managed to put the ball in the back of Barca’s net thanks to some confusion at the back at one point as well.
Boasting a mere xG of 0.37, Barcelona were reasonably inferior to Getafe’s xG of 0.78. The Catalans simply lacked creativity. The type of creativity needed to break apart resolute defensive units such as tonight’s opponents. However, despite their rather slow start, the first goal indeed came to Barcelona. Courtesy of a brilliantly weighted pass by Raphinha, Pedri managed to open the scoring. Beginning thanks to a haphazard pass by the Getafe defender, the Catalans were quick to capitalize.
Despite Getafe maintaining a higher xG in the first 45, they were rather conservative in their approach. This was also showcased in the lesser quantity of total shots in comparison to Barcelona. Regardless of this, they did however continue to pose a consistent threat. Although this conservative approach stayed behind in the first half as the second began in time. While Barcelona’s defenders were spontaneously tested during the first half, it was a more consistent test in the second half.
Barcelona can be criticized for being sluggish in the first half, but the continuation into the second half was bizarre. Getafe slowly got into their stride and were looking much more potent. They were much more direct and switched away from their rather pragmatic approach from earlier. Slowly, they seemed to take over the proceedings. Equaling the number of shots with 5 each by the 70th minute, it seemed dire for Barcelona.
Xavi was also responsible for some frustrating decisions. He ended up taking off both Balde and Christensen, two reasonable and reliable defenders, for Alba and Eric Garcia. While the latter are both proven and improving players respectively, the former two taken off are currently in fine form.
Getafe remained persistent in their attacks as the half went on. They were especially dangerous on any spontaneous mistakes. They were also regularly defensively compact, allowing the home team no leeway whatsoever.
Were it not for Barcelona’s own defensive resilience, they might have ended up conceding on more than one occasion. The Catalans were looking to counter whenever the opportunity arose, but Getafe were quick to nullify it. Making runs in behind, and expanding the Barcelona defence, the visitors were quite troublesome in multiple aspects of the game.
Regardless of Barcelona struggling, Xavi remained adamant on bringing in players that were undoubtedly inconsistent this season. A particularly risky substitution near the end was that of Marcos Alonso, as the Spaniard is amongst those that are prone to last-minute errors.
Yet if they deserve any credit, it’s for holding onto a very slender lead with good defensive work rate and quality. Xavi’s team ended the 90 minutes as rather not-so-deserving winners but take away the 3 points regardless.
La Blaugrana end their first home game of 2023 with a 1-0 victory. This ensures the continuation of their tenure at the top of the table thus far. Lethargic and complacent, it took some massive grit to end the game as victors. They manage to contain Getafe’s spontaneous attacks with much better effect, however.
Barcelona managed to hold onto an early Pedri goal as the only salvation out of a very mediocre performance. They end this game now being 6 points clear at the top of the La Liga table. The Catalans next face Real Sociedad in the Copa Del Ray, after which they travel to Girona for their next La Liga outing. Xavi’s men need to improve upon their consistency in performances if they hope to continue challenging.