Coliseum Alfonso Perez, Madrid – Jorge Molina pulled up his socks and rolled up his sleeves. He had started on the bench but was finishing on the pitch, where it mattered. And, when it mattered. Getafe were a goal down as their captain stood on the touchline preparing for his entrance; receiving instructions from manager Jose Bordalas, but he knew what he had to do, he’d done it before. The hosts have little room for error if they want to achieve the unbelievable and, what many would lead you to believe is, the unachievable.
51 minutes later and Molina was celebrating, as were the coaches, the entire bench in fact, and also the supporters in all four stands. Molina may not have brought goals but he had given Getafe inspiration and imagination, just like he so often does. Coming from behind is never easy, let alone when chasing the impossible dream, but then when the final whistle came no one would have had it any other way. Victory tastes sweeter when it is served this way. As Saturday evening drew to a close, Getafe sat in fourth place, a mere three points behind Real Madrid. The dream is still on, and time is running out for it not to be.
This was a big win for the south Madrid club and it was evident at full time what this meant to the club. Equally, it was a game that had permutations for Huesca who have begun to mount a rather unlikely charge to safety but despite taking the lead, ended up leaving pointless and with a sense of disappointment. If Molina brings the inspiration then Jaime Mata provides the incision as his 12th and 13th goals of the season took Getafe to victory and continues to prove what a splendid purchase he is.
The deft touches, the driving force and the encouragement that Molina brings to Getafe is paramount to their recent success. He can be seen as Bordalas’s extension from bench to pitch, neither let standards slip and both are fully committed to the Geta cause. But neither would have predicted this. With 11 matches left of this La Liga season, Getafe sit in a Champions League spot and, most importantly, deservedly so.
May the FOURTH be with you!
— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) March 9, 2019
It does sometimes need a second glance just to confirm; Did I read that right?, one might think. Well yes, and if you’ve watched Getafe it won’t be as surprising as it may seem at first glance. This is a movement, some may say, having gone down to Segunda and come back rejuvenated, they now are aiming for more, in truth, a lot more. There are increasingly greater reasons to suggest that Getafe are becoming one of the best teams on the continent, the most balanced and certainly the most dogged and determined.
It is hard to imagine the Coliseum on a Champions League night, and some supporters will not want to hear that in case it jinxes their chances, but it’s true. The southern suburb is not the kind of place that one would expect the likes of Manchester City, Juventus and Bayern Munich to turn up at voluntarily. It is a commuter town, newly built and still, some may say, waiting for life to fully arrive. But nevertheless, it is perfectly quaint and easy to navigate which is a statement that can’t be thrown at its football team.
As the evening skies darkened on Saturday, Getafe came alive, revving the gears and racing from behind to victory. It is not the first time that Getafe have relied heavily on Mata and Molina – M&M one might call them – but Getafe are very conscious of making this a team effort. Bordalas demands it. And gets it. Solidity and solidarity are the watchwords. Defending collectively plays a huge part in their game-plan and is proving fruitful; Getafe have conceded fewer goals than Barcelona and seven less than Real Madrid, only Valencia and Atletico Madrid have conceded less.
The most common phrases aimed at Bordalas’s side have been “tough to beat”, “difficult opponents” and “know exactly how to play the space” – statements that show why Getafe are in the position that they are. They keep it simple, and almost play like a mirror; reflecting their opponent’s deficiencies back and resultantly getting the opposition to play the opposition, leaving themselves to just get on with being Getafe. They are gifted at exploiting a team’s weakness and manage to eliminate the space and force their opponents to surrender.
— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) March 9, 2019
The shame is that more are not there to see it in action. They have the league’s third smallest average attendance at just below 10,000, only Eibar and Huesca have fewer. Also, the media often neglect Getafe, averting their attention elsewhere; it is not unusual for some of Spain’s biggest sports newspapers to not even send a reporter to the Coliseum, oh if only they knew what they were missing.
It is the economics along with the football that has improved of late. The starting lineup on Saturday cost little over €4 million and salaries are kept in check too, allowing the financial situation at Getafe to flourish rather than flounder, something that could not be said some years ago. It is standing them in good stead, certainly. But who knows, in a few more months the club could be receiving a substantial lot more funds from unexpected means.
There is still a sense of unbelieving that wraps around the Coliseum, even as the final whistle drew closer against Huesca and with another win arriving, it all felt surreal. It’s still not over and anything can happen, but at the moment this is happening and oh how they are enjoying it. “We’re going to Europe,” shouted some supporters; it’s something that they haven’t done too often, they were in the Uefa Cup over a decade ago, but the Champions League, never.
Neither have the players, this is new to them too. Most are more accustomed to experiencing relegation than Europe and most have played more seasons in Segunda than Primera. They are not all rejects and washed up elder statesmen, but goalkeepers David Soria and Leandro Chichizorla were unwanted by Sevilla and relegated Las Palmas respectively, defender Damian Suarez arrived off the back of two relegations in a row and Matheiu Flamini was without a club. Moreover, this is Mata’s first season in the top-flight and Molina is 36 and, one would have expected, with his best days behind him.
And yet, it works.
Bordalas is key and the start of this can be taken back to when he took charge. He also got to this position the hard way; he took Alcorcon to the Segunda play-offs and Alaves into Primera but was not given the chance to continue at either. Now in his second full season at the top, he is leading Getafe further than everyone anticipated. He joined when they were second bottom of the second division, now the picture is somewhat different. It would not be wide of the mark to suggest that this is the best Getafe is history. There have been calls for Molina to get a call-up to the Spain squad, and Saturday’s display will only increase the demands.
As a substitute, he sat on the bench and watched on as Huesca took the lead against the run of play shortly after the half-hour mark through Chimy Avila’s cross and Enric Gallardo’s tap in. It was the visitors’ only chance of the half whilst Getafe dominated in all areas leading to one newspaper reporting it was “a monologue of blue” in the first half. Portillo’s header from an Antunes corner forced Santamaria into a fine save. Yet it wasn’t until their captain entered the fray did Getafe start to readily create chances. Within minutes of Molina’s arrival, they were level.
Mata now had his best partner alongside him and it was Molina who provided the crucial ball for the equaliser. A poor clearance from Huesca allowed Getafe in, Molina laid off Mata whose shot from outside the area was deflected by Etxeita past Santamaria and into the net. A pause for VAR was momentary before Getafe started to throw everything forward in search of a second. Antunes’ forceful drive was parried by the goalkeeper but it wasn’t until Djene Dakonam was brought down in the Huesca area did Getafe have a clear opportunity to go ahead. Mata stepped up and delivered.
The hosts did not relent and sought a third but although the intent was there, the accuracy was somewhat lacking with the woodwork being hit on more than one occasion. Huesca protested for a penalty late on when Damian Musto was seemingly hauled down by Mauro Arambarri but nothing was awarded. As full time approached, the home supporters’ singing grew louder. Like it did here, as every minute of every match passes, Getafe will believe that bit more that their impossible dream is coming true, despite how silly it may seem.
Los Otros Puntos
And so the pressure was on Sevilla to keep on the coat-tails of Getafe and the final Champions League spot but they responded with an emphatic win over Real Sociedad. The Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan was alive with the sound of goals, four of which were scored by Pablo Machin’s side in a 22-minute second half spell.
A different manager, but the same result for Celta Vigo; their mire continues.
Has it really got that bad for Real Madrid that not even the VAR officials can watch?
Estooooo ¿NO HAY NADIE EN LA SALA VOR?
Gil Manzano hablaba con el VAR sobre el gol anulado al Valladolid, la realización enfocaba a la Sala VOR pero… no había nadiepic.twitter.com/l7kYFDrnIn
— Carrusel Deportivo (@carrusel) March 10, 2019
…and seemingly the Valladolid fans too…
Despite claims from the home club that the power cut has been resolved this is the scene at the Estadio Jose Zorilla just over a minute ago.
Original kick-off now less than 30' away.
A delay in the start looking possible.
— AS English (@English_AS) March 10, 2019
Surely not another Valencia draw? No, a last minute winner instead.
| GOAAL! |
As calm as you like Ferran Torres nets his second goal of the season and may have secured the 3 points for Valencia! ?
3rd time lucky for them to hold on to their lead? pic.twitter.com/6WtnzKbAtY
— Eleven Sports (@ElevenSports_UK) March 10, 2019
Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Espanyol
Alaves 1-1 Eibar
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Leganes
Barcelona 3-1 Rayo Vallecano
Getafe 2-1 Huesca
Celta Vigo 0-1 Real Betis
Girona 2-3 Valencia
Sevilla 5-2 Real Sociedad
Levante 0-2 Villarreal
Valladolid 1-4 Real Madrid