Why Getafe are capable of securing Champions League football

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Popular and fashionable weren’t exactly words used to describe Getafe, even before the slightly abrasive José Bordalás wound up at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez in the summer of 2016. He had just been sacked by Alavés despite having won promotion to the Primera Division as second tier champions. Robbed of the opportunity to prove himself in the top flight with the Basque side, he has since led Getafe on a relentless charge towards the upper echelons of the Spanish game.

Alavés’ loss has most certainly been Getafe’s gain but nearly three years on, things haven’t turned out too badly for either club. With current inhabitants Sevilla facing leaders Barcelona this weekend in La Liga, it’s more likely than not that 4th place will be filled by either Getafe or Alavés by the end of this weekend. With just thirteen matches to go in the 2018/19 season, that in itself is extraordinary.

Of the two sides, it is Bordalás’ Getafe who look more capable of going the distance and potentially bringing the glitz and glamour of the Champions League to one of Spanish football’s least elegant stages.

La Liga’s 3rd best defensive record – for the 2nd season running

There is something about teams that are successful primarily thanks to solid defence that can see them go under the radar. It half explains why Atlético Madrid’s 2013-14 title success caught everyone by surprise even though they’d been doing some excellent things in the two years leading up to it. While a title challenge is unlikely any time soon, there are certainly parallels between Diego Simeone’s Atléti and Bordalás’ Getafe side with on the surface at least, a straight-forward 4-4-2 approach, incredibly well-drilled players and a slight tendency to skirt the rules at times.

They may not be popular but their record speaks for itself. Getafe have conceded just 21 times in 24 games this season in La Liga, having also conceded fewer than a goal per game on average last term. They’ve conceded nineteen fewer goals than Real Madrid since returning to the top flight in 2017. This isn’t a freak season or a surprise run of form yet still Getafe are somewhat patronisingly viewed as a team that has no real right to be challenging for a place on the big European stage. Had they instead scored nineteen more than Real Madrid over the past eighteen months, it might have been a different matter.

2 Defeats in 17 Away League Games

There are all kinds of stats that should make people stand up and take greater notice of Getafe. Their away record is perhaps the most compelling of those. They’ve lost just twice in seventeen road games in La Liga with those losses coming against the two ‘big’ Madrid clubs. Over ten months have passed since they last lost away to any side outside of La Liga’s established top three.

Sure there have been plenty of draws in that sequence but this is now a fiercely competitive league with no easy games, particularly on the road. To become so difficult to beat away from home over such a long period is testament to how this side has evolved since returning to the top flight. With seven wins from their last eight at home in all competitions, a point per game on the road may be all they need to keep their top four push on track.

No Distractions

They wouldn’t have thought so at the time but a dramatic late Copa del Rey exit at the Mestalla last month, may end up giving them the edge in the race for that much coveted 4th place. While Alaves remain in the mix, it’s still the likes of Sevilla, Real Betis and Valencia who are most likely to form their most fierce opposition in that battle.

All those sides have cup distractions. Sevilla remain the favourites but they are a club that firmly believes in putting 100% into their Europa League campaigns. Even with a 1-0 First Leg advantage they fielded a very strong team at home to Lazio on Wednesday and they could have a further seven European matches to squeeze in if they are to reach another Europa League Final, something that you certainly wouldn’t rule out.

Getafe’s bad-tempered cup exit meanwhile leaves them free to focus all their energy on fourteen league games that could bring Champions League football to the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez.

97 Years & 23 Goals – Getafe’s MMA

Getafe’s success last season in particular, often came in the form of lots of scrappy wins, often by 1-0 margins. However increasingly they are starting to add a bit more style to go with their solid foundations and their forwards have all been in good touch in front of goal.

It may be too soon to christen them the MMA, an acronym that seems somewhat fitting given Getafe’s physical reputation, but forwards Mata, Molina and Angel have contributed 23 league goals between them this season. That accounts for 77% of the team total. The latter two proved an effective pairing last season but the addition of Jaime Mata has added a bit more variety and flexibility to their play and is another indicator that this is a club making astute decisions on and off the pitch.

At the age of 30, Mata is actually the youngest of the trio but he is looking increasingly at home at this level in his first ever top flight season. Jorge Molina will be 37 by the end of the campaign but is now just four shy of his best ever Primera Division goal return.

Perhaps now then it is high time that people started to talk about unfashionable little Getafe. If they end up amongst the European elite next season, they will have little choice.

 Article by @marksoc1

Featured Image, CC BY-SA 4.0

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About Mark Sochon 2072 Articles
Mark is a freelance writer based in Madrid. He has been writing about Spanish football since 2014 and regularly attends and covers matches across Spain. His work has also been published by various newspapers and websites including These Football Times, World Soccer and Guardian Sport. Available for freelance work: marksochon (at) hotmail.co.uk

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