After winning the Copa del Rey on the weekend, Barcelona will return to La Liga action tomorrow night as they face off against Getafe at the Camp Nou.
Date and Kickoff Time: Thursday, April 22, 2021, 8:00 PM CET
Stadium: Camp Nou
Competition: La Liga, Matchday 31
Referee: Jorge Figueroa Vazquez
Barcelona’s Copa del Rey win was short-lived. A night of celebration was immediately overshadowed by news of an (even shorter-lived) European Super League. Now, attention must shift as the team seeks to win one of the tightest La Liga races in recent memory. With only eight games left, every point counts.
The loss against Real Madrid two weeks ago disheartened Culés, but Madrid recently drew 0-0 against Getafe, meaning Barça can leapfrog them in the table with a win. The Catalans’ form in La Liga has been sensational; other than El Clasico’s 1-2 loss, they have not lost since December 5th, and they have won 48 out of 57 possible points. Their Copa victory should give them new-found confidence, which will be key against a tough-out like Getafe.
Getafe are currently sitting 15th in the league table, but they are better than their position suggests. On Sunday, they drew 0-0 against Real Madrid, but they should have walked away with all three points. According to understat.com, Getafe outscored Madrid 2.19 to 0.62 on expected goals. A month prior, they drew 0-0 against Atletico Madrid. They have drawn four of their last five games and haven’t won since the end of February.
The last time Barça and Getafe played was in October, and Getafe won 1-0 in a hard-fought encounter.
What to expect from Barcelona?
With only eight games left, Ronald Koeman will undoubtedly field his strongest starting eleven. Given its success over the last few months, Koeman will likely employ a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formation, providing defensive stability and attacking width. The question is, who makes the cut?
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen will assuredly start in goal with three centre-backs ahead of him, likely Oscar Mingueza on the right, Gerard Pique in the middle, and Clement Lenglet on the left. Pique made a triumphant return to the starting lineup against Bilbao in the cup final, expertly shutting down their only attacking threat, Iñaki Williams. On the other hand, Getafe are especially quick on the counter, and Ronald Araújo may start in the middle, giving the veteran Pique some rest.
In this crucial time of the season, Barça are fortunate not to have any glaring injuries other than Ansu Fati and Philippe Coutinho, so Koeman can stick with his favoured attacking options. Sergiño Dest and Jordi Alba will be crucial down the wings as always. The midfield trio of Frenkie De Jong, Sergio Busquets, and Pedri will have to stay composed and fortified against a Getafe side that will not be afraid to get under their skin. The Dutchman will have to mirror his performance from the Copa del Rey final to overcome Getafe.
Upfront, Antoine Griezmann is coming off a fantastic cup final and should start alongside Lionel Messi. Ousmane Dembele will surely come off the bench and provide a spark, but he’s struggled this season against teams that like to sit back, defend, and set up a “low-block.”
Barcelona will be without the services of Martin Braithwaite, who has been a regular appearance maker off the bench this season. The Dane picked up an injury to the right ankle in training and is subsequently, unavailable for selection.
Given Getafe’s style of play, Barcelona will have a majority of possession and should be in the driver’s seat most of the match, but Getafe may not crumble defensively as easily as Bilbao did in the cup final.
What to expect from Getafe?
Getafe are stout defensively, extremely aggressive, but poor in attack. Despite sitting 15th in the table, they have the seventh-best defensive record in the league, conceding a little over one goal a game. They rank third in terms of pressures per 90 minutes (147.3), they are fifth in tackles per game (16.2), they are third in loose balls recoveries per 90 minutes (94.3), and they are sixth in interceptions (10.4).
Simply put, their disciplinary rate is astounding. Getafe have accumulated a league-leading 103 yellow cards, 14 more than second-placed Celta Vigo. For further reference, that leads all of Europe’s top-five leagues.
Getafe will sit back, absorb pressure, and look to pounce on the counter-attack, but their offence has been subpar all season. They are tied for the least goals scored in La Liga this season (22), meaning Messi alone has more than their entire team. In terms of expected goals, they have underperformed by 7.89 goals, meaning they are not as clinical as they should be.
Coach José Bordalás typically lines up in a 4-4-2, and he should do the same against the Blaugrana. Given that they impressively held Real Madrid to a draw, his squad will likely look the same. That includes David Soria in goal; a backline of Suarez, Djene, David Timor, and Mathias Olivera; Carles Aleña, Mauro Arambarri, Nemanja Maksimovic, and Marc Cucurella in the middle; and Enes Unal and Jaime Mata upfront.
Carles Aleña is currently on-loan at Getafe from Barcelona, so he will be looking to prove himself.
Player to Watch
Getafe are often the sum of their parts, but Marc Cucurella is the player to watch. After officially moving to Getafe last summer from Barcelona, Cucurella has emerged as a key player for them, playing the most minutes and starting the most games. Cucurella has three goals and one assist to his name this season, he garners 2.22 shot-creating actions per game and completes 2.55 crosses per game.
He hasn’t thrived offensively due to Getafe’s style of play, but his pace could be dangerous against the Catalans. Playing at left-mid, his matchup against Sergiño Dest and Oscar Mingueza will be something to keep an eye on.
Previous games: WLWWW
Barcelona 4-0 Athletic Bilbao | Copa del Rey
Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 1-0 Real Valladolid | La Liga
Real Sociedad 1-6 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 4-1 Huesca | La Liga
Position in La Liga
65 points in 30 games
20 wins, 5 draws and 5 losses
69 Goals Scored, 26 Goals Conceded
+43 Goal Difference
Previous games: DLDDD
Getafe 0-0 Real Madrid | La Liga
Getafe 0-1 Cadiz | La Liga
Osasuna 0-0 Getafe | La Liga
Getafe 1-1 Elche | La Liga
Getafe 0-0 Atletico Madrid | La Liga
Position in La Liga
31 points in 31 games
7 wins, 10 draws and 41 losses
22 Goals Scored, 34 Goals Conceded
-12 Goal Difference
Head to head record
Previous meetings: Barcelona – four wins, one loss (8 goals for, 3 against)
Getafe 1-0 Barcelona | La Liga 20/21
Barcelona 2-1 Getafe | La Liga 19/20
Getafe 0-2 Barcelona | La Liga 19/20
Barcelona 2-0 Getafe | La Liga 18/19
Getafe 1-2 Barcelona | La Liga 18/19
- In their last 9 meetings against Getafe, Barcelona have finished the game with 2 goals six times.
- Barça have not beaten Getafe by more than 2 goals in five years.
- Getafe have not won in the Camp Nou in 15 matches
- Getafe have only won three out of their last 17 games in 2021
Injured: Ansu Fati (knee), Phillipe Coutinho (knee), Martin Braithwaite (ankle), Neto (foot)
Mingueza · Pique · Lenglet
Dest · De Jong · Busquets · Pedri · Alba
Messi · Griezmann
Injured: Dario Poveda, Erick Cabaco, Cucho Hernandez
Suspended: Allan Nyom
Suarez · Djene · Timor · Olivera
Aleña · Arambarri · Makismovic · Cucurella
Unal · Mata
Koeman talked about the importance of this clash in his pre-game presser, and assured that Getafe will surely be one of Barça’s toughest tests in the remainder of the season. The Blaugrana will have to be composed, energised, and up to the task, ensuring that Getafe does not irritate them out of three points. If Getafe’s defence holds up, it won’t be a goal-fest, but their attack should not threaten the home side. Barcelona will have to fight for a positive result, and they should prevail.
Barça Universal Prediction: 2-0 win for Barcelona.