La Liga Analysis Opinion

Coliseum Alfonso Perez, Getafe – It was well after midnight when the last stragglers finally left the tiny bar opposite the Coliseum Alfonso Perez. The party was ending, some nine hours after the match had done so. The likelihood is that it will resume again soon, given how Getafe are performing it is surely going to be a question of when not if.

For it is they who now occupy fourth spot outright and are well within their right to sing and shout about it. However the people of Getafe aren’t quite like that, rather they would prefer to toast their success inconspicuously. Getafe is a working-class town and its humble residents are down to earth, but now closer to heaven. The indirect tussle for the final top-four place behind Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid is between Getafe, Sevilla and Valencia, but for an hour and a half on Sunday the battle became a direct one with Getafe and Sevilla facing off.

In the open and somewhat run-down Coliseum, there were plenty of faded blue seats visible; at full capacity the stadium was not. Even for a game as big as this one, Getafe failed to sell out. The Madrid club do not have a big fanbase, they are situated in a suburb south of the capital where many of the residents do support the club but also a fair few sight Real Madrid or Atletico as their No 1 side. Yet those who do support Getafe do it well. Those in the stadium on Sunday not only played their part, but also played their part in the club’s biggest victory of the season.

Getafe won by three goals to nil; an impressive scoreline albeit two goals came from the penalty spot. Sevilla were roundly beaten and could have few complaints with losing to their rivals for the final Champions League spot. Having beaten Real Betis in the derby last weekend, Joaquin Caparros’s side were beginning to mount a serious challenge but this defeat will be a major setback in getting into next season’s competition. With Valencia beating Betis this weekend, the table now reads: Getafe (54 points), Valencia (52 points) and Sevilla (52 points).

There are still five matches to be played, hence why Getafe are not getting ahead of themselves, but just imagine. Getafe not only in European competition but in the European competition. Jose Bordalas’s side are fully deserved of their current place, having played remarkably well all campaign with the coach coming in for due acclaim from all corners of Spain. Despite drawing twice and losing once in their past five matches, Getafe remain in the hunt, this win now means that they are two points ahead of their two challengers.

The run-in will be crucial and a fantastic watch. With Barcelona La Liga champions in all but name and the bottom three of Valladolid, Huesca and Rayo Vallecano now seemingly too far from form and a points total to keep them in the division, the fight for fourth is the only thing to be decided this season. Getafe do not have it easy; they have got to face both Real Madrid (at home) and Barcelona (away) in their final five games but will fancy themselves against Real Sociedad, Girona and Villarreal. Sevilla on the other hand must travel to Atletico and finish at home to Athletic Bilbao, whilst Valencia must juggle the task with a Europa League semi final against Arsenal and a Copa del Rey final against Barcelona.

It is certainly not all over.

It is Getafe, though, who will be confident of their chances. Continue playing like they have all season – being well organised, disciplined and tenacious – and it is hard to see past them. Someone quipped whether Getafe would be able to cope with the rigmarole of playing in both league and Europe, the response was that it is at least better to be in the Champions League so that you don’t have to deal with the Thursday nights. The fact they have the choice is quite amusing.

Bordalas will not let standards slip; he never has. The Getafe coach will drill his side over the line and quite possibly into Europe. For he, like his players, has never been in this position before. Having only first managed in La Liga when Getafe won promotion back three seasons ago, he has spent much of his coaching career in the second and third divisions. Now, though, he is attracting the attention of La Liga’s high and mighty. Monchi, Sevilla’s sporting director, said after the match that there is nothing in rumours of Bordalas taking over from Caparros in the summer but admitted that “he’s a good coach.”

Whether Bordalas does achieve in getting Getafe into the Champions League, the questions regarding him staying or going would be rather counterintuitive, surely he would stay. The possibility of achieving is becoming evermore real and Bordalas has played a bigger part than anyone in getting Getafe to where they now find themselves. Against Sevilla each and everyone in sky blue played to their maximum; David Soria kept another clean sheet in goal (his 11th this season), Nemanja Maksimovic won the duels in midfield and kept it simple with his play, whilst Jorge Molina and Jaime Mata got the goals and put in yet more effective displays.

The game, however, was not without controversy. Both of Getafe’s penalties were awarded by VAR, both for handballs. Given the referee was Senor Mateu Lahoz, then the officiating was always going to take centre stage. The first one came shortly after the half hour when Sergio Escudero was adjudged to have handled in the penalty area, Mata struck the subsequent spot-kick straight down the middle of Tomas Vaclik’s goal.

Then deep into first half injury time, a sense of déjà vu took hold as once again Escudero was penalised for handling in the area. His second yellow card was awarded and Sevilla down to 10 men. When Molina slotted the penalty low to Vaclik’s right, Sevilla found themselves two-goals down going into the break. The decision by Lahoz and the assistant referee was dubious as Escudero was not facing the ball when it was headed from no more than three feet away straight at his arm.

It went from bad to worse for Caparros’s men early in the second half when Japanese international Gaku played in Mata, he squared the ball towards Molina who forced both Sevilla defender Simon Kjaer and the ball into the goal. Sevilla were a shadow of the team that fought so hard for a derby win last weekend. They were being dominated and frustrated by Getafe who, as ever, were doing the simple things right. Soria saved well to deny Wissam Ben Yedder and centre-back Djene was sent off for a nasty challenge on Jesus Navas with little over quarter of an hour to play. Even when the Togo international trudged of the pitch he was greeted by applause, it was that kind of afternoon.

Sevilla struggled to lay a glove on their hosts and couldn’t compete, especially with the man disadvantage. The visitors could claim that they were on the wrong end of some dodgy officiating – as Ben Yedder himself made known on social media before backtracking – but the three goal difference between the two sides was warranted. It is Getafe who rightly sit in fourth and will look to stay there for the next four weeks. The owners of the small bar opposite the Coliseum will hope for more of the same when Real Madrid come to visit on Thursday evening. If they could win that, then the party will carry on even deeper into the night.

Los Otros Puntos

“Quique vete ya, Quique vete ya!” rained down from the steep stands of the Benito Villamarin. There had been pockets of the chants for Quique Setien to “go now” but as Valencia scored their second to all but end Real Betis’s European hopes, the chorus grew louder. It is curious, as only last season Setien was praised as a maverick and took Betis into the Europa League with some of the most exhilarating and exciting football seen across the continent. And yet now the team do not appear capable of winning let alone winning exuberantly. Setien was touted as a possible future Barcelona manager but currently his reputation is being slightly tarnished. He is increasingly becoming a divisive figure through how his team play and what he says. It is a shame that a marriage, which brought such entertainment last campaign is ending so sourly, the summer would be a natural point to part ways.

Villarreal’s revival under former-new-old-current manager Fran Escriba continued with victory over Leganes. Back-to-back wins has taken Villarreal four points clear of 18th-placed Valladolid and allowed supporters to breathe a little easier with relegation increasingly unlikely.

Real Madrid won 3-0 against Athletic Bilbao but the biggest story in the Madrid press is Gareth Bale. It seems that his place in the Madrid squad is increasingly in doubt. “Zidane has a problem called Bale,” said Marca. He started on the bench and came on to boos which Bale sarcastically raised his hand to appreciate. Karim Benzema scored a hat-trick in what was one of Real’s better performances this season.

Naturally in the match between the bottom two, neither could win. It ended as a draw between Rayo Vallecano and Huesca.

Los Resultados

Alaves 2-2 Valladolid

Celta Vigo 2-1 Girona

Eibar 0-1 Atletico Madrid

Rayo Vallecano 0-0 Huesca

Barcelona 2-1 Real Sociedad

Levante 2-2 Espanyol

Getafe 3-0 Sevilla

Real Madrid 3-0 Athletic

Villarreal 2-1 Leganes

Real Betis 1-2 Valencia

La Clasificación

La Liga Analysis