As per whoscored.com, they rank 17th overall in terms of shots per game (10.1); 18th in average possession (44.8%); bottom in terms of passing accuracy average (61.2%) and 15th overall in terms of shots on target per game (3.2). Why then are Getafe, a team that perform so badly statistically, third in La Liga?
These numbers are what make Getafe so different and so fascinating and, in many ways, give people a free pass to wheel out the usual “Getafe anti-football” clichés.
There’s an astronomical difference in their finances, fan base, and overall sporting stature but Getafe are currently outperforming Atletico Madrid on the pitch and can arguably be considered, for the time being, the second-best team in the Spanish capital. Here are five key reasons why:
1. There’s no ‘I’ in Getafe: Getafe don’t have any €126m signings or Champions League winners or the best goalkeeper in the world but anyone who has watched them will know they are a tremendous unit who depend more on the collective than any one star. In recent weeks they have lost senior squad members like Leandro Cabrera and Bruno; they have also had to do without key player Vitorino Antunes and Amath Ndiaye to long-term injuries but the team has remained united as ever.
“Help each other on the field, talk to each your teammate, let’s go for goal with bravery and boldness like the team we were.” This is a snippet of José Bordalás’ steely pre-match pep talk in the visiting dressing room at San Mamés before his men went out and dispatched Athletic Bilbao in a cold, decisive manner. Getafe are the best example in La Liga of a team being greater than the sum of its parts and it shows week after week. Every player knows his role in the team and his importance for the greater good. This solidarity is the foundation of everything Getafe does so well.
2. Getafe have goal: The Azulones are a team that will rarely create an avalanche of opportunities (currently ranked 15th in shots on target per game). Instead, they wait for their moment to strike and, more often than not, when their chances do come, they are high quality and high percentage plays. Everything Getafe does feels surgical and precise; they leave very little to chance. Their games become compartmentalised, almost resembling rugby in some ways, where attacks resembling strike plays. They are an incredibly efficient, mechanical outfit who attack to score goals, not to entertain.
Bordalás’ men have scored 32 goals: more than Simeone’s men (22), Sevilla (28), Athletic Bilbao (22), Real Betis (30), and almost double that of Celta Vigo (17), who have been widely heralded as a team full of attacking talent. The expected stats have Getafe at just under 28 in terms of xG but the quality in attack with the likes of Jaime Mata and Angel has made the difference. Their recent derby demolition of Leganes was a testament to their efficiency and ruthlessness – the game was over once they went 3-0 up at the home of their bitter rivals with only 33 mins on the clock. The platform is there to create the best possible positions for the strikers to do what they’re good at.
3. The Bordalás Identity: “From demand comes improvement. Hard work is non-negotiable and my players are well aware of this.” The work ethic and ferocity instilled by José Bordalás has made Getafe one of the most difficult teams in La Liga to beat and a complete pain in the ass to play against. They have lost five games so far in La Liga (Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Villarreal, and Real Madrid) but each of these, bar Villarreal perhaps, were games you would expect even this Getafe to fall short in. They have taken advantage of a favourable run of fixtures, winning six out of eight – all six wins without conceding a goal. On the road they have been excellent, only losing twice in their last ten while winning at Anoeta, Balaidos, Ipurura, Butarque and San Mamés while Atletico have won two in the same number of games.
Getafe have scored at least once in eight of their 11 away games (with a total of 14 goals) compared to Atleti’s five in 11 (total of eight). Madrid-based journalist Robbie Dunne’s excellent piece for StatsBomb details how the men in blue use long balls and wide pressure with the aim of winning the ball back in dangerous areas and it is incredibly effective. But let’s not kid ourselves, Getafe have some really good players. In defence, Djené and Damian Suárez continue to be exceptional while the engine room of Mauro Arambarri and Nemanja Maksimovic are a nice blend of athleticism, guile and sensible decision making when in possession. Marc Cucurella and Kenedy have provided width, energy and dynamism while the quality of the men in attack has been well-documented. It’s a standard 4-4-2 every single week; Getafe know what they’re about and underneath the rugged exterior they are an incredibly meticulous operation.
4. Getafe have grit: Are Getafe games easy on the eye? No. Do Getafe play the game in a structured manner? Yes. Do Getafe produce some moments of real quality in attack? Yes. Getafe are a bit of everything. Like any good team, they play to the strengths of their squad and their manager and, overall, the criticism has been unfair and quite personal at times. The back page of Monday’s Marca was dedicated to Bordalás’ men. “When Getafe are on the field, the game is played how Getafe want it to be played,” said Roberto Palomar. “Bringing your rival out of its comfort zone is an unquestionable merit.” The match report after their hugely impressive win at San Mamés highlighted how “Athletic believed they were able to enter the blue cactus field and come out without a scratch, but no.”
The recent signing of the lovable scamp Deyverson should ensure many more uncomfortable afternoons for opposition defences. Their attackers defend from the front and chase and bustle and hustle; Jaime Mata has committed the most fouls in La Liga (59) ahead of Casemiro and Raul Garcia. As Al Pacino said in Any Given Sunday “it’s all about the inches.” It’s all about those little battles fought over the 90 minutes that make all the difference. These were the wars that Simeone’s old guard used to overcome on a weekly basis but those days are now long gone. Getafe have taken over that mantle and the results are there for all to see.
5. Geta getting it right off the field: Getafe have a clear idea of what they are trying to achieve both on and off the pitch. Almost everything they do is in a steady, well-planned manner and they have focused heavily on bringing in a mixture of youth and experience but only those who possess the necessary attributes to slide seamlessly into Bordalás’ flat-pack formation. Kenedy and Cucurella have been superb signings, adding much-needed youth and pace, which has given the South Madrid side much-needed dynamism.
Right now, things over at the Wanda Metropolitano appear more dishevelled and desperate, with the January transfer window culminating in the farcical pursuit of Edinson Cavani. It all stank of desperation and was just punishment for a lack of clear planning over the last few years. Andrea Berta’s position has rightly been questioned by the Atletico fans. Getafe have thus far outperformed Los Rojiblancos both on and off the pitch. This is a team who was promoted back to the Primera in 2017; they have a budget of €56m, six times smaller than Atleti and they have also had to contend with the extra commitments which last season’s success has brought.
Eventually, the natural order will most likely be restored in La Liga but, at this moment in time, Getafe tick so many more boxes than Atleti; they are a united team who know what they are about and, after falling just short in their quest for a Champions League place last season, they are hungrier than ever.
The numbers suggest Getafe are a mid-table team at best but the reality is they’re absolutely brilliant.