When José Bordalás took over as coach at Getafe on September 27th، 2016، the club was in crisis and sitting second-bottom of Spain’s second tier LaLiga 1l2l3. Now، two and a half years later، the Azulones enter the final weekend of the 201819 LaLiga Santander season in with a very real chance of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in their history. Sitting in fifth، behind Valencia in fourth only on the head-to-head rule، Getafe would book a place in Europe’s top competition by bettering Valencia’s result on the final day of the season.
From 2017 to 2019: the ‘Bordalas effect’
It’s been an incredible journey since the autumn of 2017 and Bordalás deserves much of the credit. The coach who had previously achieved promotion for Alavés was able to resuscitate Getafe when he came in، defibrillating them out of the relegation zone by installing some defensive discipline and earning back-to-back-to-back clean sheets in his first three matches in charge. Once they had stabilised، he led them on a promotion push that had seemed so unlikely and they went up by defeating Huesca and Tenerife in the play-offs.
The momentum carried on into LaLiga Santander the following campaign. Getafe earned some very impressive results on their way to an eighth-place finish، defeating Valencia twice، drawing away at Sevilla and again away at Barcelona. They missed out on Europa League qualification by just three points، but crucially proved they weren’t a one-season wonder.
Working the transfer market to their advantage
In spite of working with a very small budget andhaving lost important players such as goalkeeper Vicente Guaita، centre-back Juan Cala and midfielder FayçalFajr in the transfer market، they recruited exceptionally well. Goalkeeper David Soria، centre-back Leandro Cabrera، left-back Vitorino Antunes، central midfielders Mauro Arambarri and Nemanja Maksimovic and striker Jaime Mata were all signed to permanent deals in 2018 and have all featured on the list of the 10 most-used players at Getafe for the 201819 season.
This current side is a very new one، then. While Cabrera، Antunes and Arambarri had all been on loan previously، Soria، Maksimovic and Mata were completely new signings and have been plugged straight into the starting line-up. And they’ve worked out well، for which credit has to be given to Bordalás and also to Nico Rodríguez، the sporting director at the time who later left the club in March.
One of the best forward lines in Spanish football
Mata has proven to be an especially good find. The Madrid native had never played in the top flight of Spanish football before but headed into his debut season for the club on the back of a whopping 33 goals in LaLiga 1l2l3 with R. Valladolid in 201718. Few believed the 29-year-old would make the jump to top-flight football so seamlessly، but he’s quickly blossomed into one of LaLiga Santander’s top marksmen and has even earned his first Spain cap.
With his 14 goals، Mata is one of three attacking talents at Getafe to have already celebrated his 30thbirthday، along with 37-year-old Jorge Molina who has 14 LaLiga goals and 32-year-old Ángel Rodríguez who’s picked up eight. The trio have combined for an incredible 36 of Getafe’s 46 goals this campaign (78%).
A foundation of defensive solidity
In combination with experienced strikers capable of scoring all kinds of goals، the foundation for Getafe’s charge towards Europe has also been their defence; for most of the season it has been the second-stingiest in LaLiga Santander، behind only Diego Simeone’s Atlético de Madrid.
So، the Getafe success story this season cannot be attributed to a single factor. Adept coaching، defensive strength and attacking flair have all been inputted into the ‘Getafe’ formula and the result has been a season to remember and guaranteed European football next season.
Getafe have only ever embarked on a couple of European campaigns in their history –the 200708 UEFA Cup and 201011 Europa League – and earned victories over the likes of Tottenham and Benfica as well as a couple of draws against Bayern Munich. Those results and European nights are still remembered fondly by Getafe fans and، excitingly، they’re set to write another chapter in the European history books next season.