By Cillian Shields l @pile_of_eggs
It has become a rarity in modern football that new rivalries are born naturally. As the game has already enjoyed such a long history, tradition, and importance in Spanish society, most of the bad blood shared between sides is already established and deeply embedded. Most rivalries come from locality, such as the Villarreal-Valencia regional derby that has risen to prominence from nothing within the last couple of decades, but with Getafe, Los Che dispute one of the most unlikely rivalries of the 21st century.
Red cards, spilled blood, and frantic finishes; the vicious mayhem of the Valencia–Getafe rivalry is turning into a must-see. The disdain was reignited on Sunday night for one of the fieriest La Liga encounters so far this season, a description that’s becoming more and more common when these teams meet.
The sides played out a 2-2 draw, but that does not tell half of the story. Leading 1-0 in the late stages, playing with only ten men since the 56th minute when Thierry Correia was sent off, Javi Gracia’s side showed fantastic team unity to fight under enormous pressure. “I’m very proud of my teammates, this is the Valencia we want to see,” captain José Gayà told media after the game, speaking about the admirable determination Los Che showed, something that has been all too rare from them this campaign.
Yunus Musah, the 17-year-old England underage international having an impressive debut season in La Liga, showed incredible pace to run most of the length of the pitch to open the scoring in the first half after breaking from a Getafe corner.
But then from the 87th minute until the final whistle, the score line went from 1-0 to Valencia, 1-2 to Getafe, and there was still time for a 100th minute penalty to level it up again and a red card for Damián Suárez for complaining. Carlos Soler coolly converted the spot kick and tensions boiled over when Valencia players tried to fish the ball out of the net, with shoves, pushes, and ugly words dished out primarily from David Soria and Djené Dakonam.
The home side have been in dire straits all season, with a manager hoping to get himself sacked, and half of their first team from last season departed and not replaced. The guests have had mixed fortunes this campaign and are hoping to launch another European push this season after falling out of form so badly after the post Covid-19 break resumption. Both sides have grown a hatred of each other in the last couple of seasons, and Valencia have been more than happy to meet Getafe at their level of physicality, and even copied a Geta trademark of playing two full backs on the same wing, when Toni Lato came on from the bench to play ahead of Gayà.
The game saw 43 fouls and 13 yellow cards, two of which being second yellows leading to reds. One of the yellows, a wild lunge from Mauro Arambarri, was initially given as a straight red card but reduced to yellow after VAR showed no contact was made.
In post-match comments, members of both sides spoke about how they were the better side and deserved to win. Getafe manager Bordalás said the first goal was “naive” on behalf of his team, while Javi Gracia said the draw was “cruel” after the players put in such an effort. “It feels weird, I was sad when they equalised because we deserved to win,” Gayà summed up.
The bitterness of this unexpected yet organic rivalry exploded in the 2018/19 season, when Valencia and Getafe could not get away from each other. Both teams fought for the fourth Champions League spot until the very last day of the season and crossed each other in the quarter finals of the Copa del Rey.
Getafe took a 1-0 lead into the second leg of that cup tie, played at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium. 39 seconds into the second leg, the Madrileños were 2-0 up on aggregate and had the tie-breaking away goal in their back pocket. Geta are infamous in Spain for their physical style of play, ready to rough up any opposition side to find an advantage. Warriors on the pitch, they make themselves one of the worst sides to have to face up against. For Valencia, this was no different.
Central defender Djené was sent off for a second bookable offence with a little under 20 minutes remaining, and Valencia, then under the tutelage of the Marcelino, who was very popular among the players and employed a physical, high-octane style of play not too dissimilar to Bordalás’s Getafe, never looked like giving up.
The finish to the tie was one of the most hectic, chaotic, almost impossible seven minutes of football seen in recent times in Spain. Rodrigo had already scored in the 60th minute, but Valencia needed two in injury time. The striker netted again in the 92nd to set up the grandstand finish. Getafe should have put the tie to bed before things slipped away from them, but incredibly, Jorge Molina’s shot was blocked almost on the line by one of his own teammates – Hugo Duro. Valencia then immediately rushed up to the other end of the field and Rodrigo completed his hat trick to put them 3-2 ahead in the tie.
Mestalla then turned into mayhem. Kicks, shoves, and insults flew. Dani Parejo was fouled and Getafe players made mocking gestures that he needed a stretcher. Tempers flared and fights broke out up and down the pitch. Blood poured from Gabriel Paulista’s face while the referee’s and camera operator’s focus was on a separate fight. All the while, the crowd delighted in chanting “Tocó en Hugo Duro” – “It hit off Hugo Duro” – rubbing the salt into Getafe’s open wounds about how they were so close to finishing the tie off, but for the home side to frantically rally back.
Somewhere amid the madness the full time whistle blew, leading to even more brawls on the pitch, while Rodrigo taunted Getafe with crybaby gestures, happy in the knowledge his three strikes put his team through to the semi-final in the most dramatic of circumstances. The police and stadium security staff had to intervene at the end of proceedings to calm tensions between the two sets of players.
In post-match comments, Getafe’s Molina said “it’s better I shut up” because if he said what he really thought, he would be banned for ten games. Rodrigo said Valencia were “superior,” that Getafe have their style of play and that the tension at the end of the game was normal.
Valencia went on to lift the cup after edging past Real Betis in the semi-final and beating a flat Barcelona in the final, as well as clinching the final Champions League spot on the last day of the season. When celebrating with the cup trophy, Gabriel Paulista remembered his friends in Getafe, grabbed the microphone, and reminded them – “Tocó en Hugo Duro.”
On Friday night, Cádiz temporarily moved level on top of the La Liga table, after continuing their incredible form away from home. In four games in the top-flight so far this season they are yet to concede a goal, let alone drop a point. Huesca, Athletic, Real Madrid, and now Eibar have had their noses bruised by the resolute low block and lightning quick counter attacks of Álvaro Cervera’s men.
“It’s nice to be co-leaders of the table. I’m sure tomorrow we’ll look at it many times,” the Cádiz manager told the media after the game. “We have to enjoy it and then forget about it during the week.”
Eibar enjoyed the lion’s share of possession – 73% – something the Basques aren’t accustomed to. Last week, they beat Sevilla with just 30% of the ball. Eibar also completed almost five times the amount of passes as Cádiz, put in over three times as many crosses, but Cádiz played more long balls compared to their hosts.
The Andalusians’ extremely well-disciplined shape makes them incredibly tough to break down, with all players ready to put in a tackle or make an interception and look to combine with their closest teammates. As soon as there is any transition in play, the full backs on the side of the play are ready to sprint forward and provide options. That is exactly how the deadlock was broken, with left back Alfonso Espino getting himself forward to put an inch-perfect cross right on the head of the veteran Álvaro Negredo to put it in the net. The second goal came shortly after from Salvi getting behind the defence, and Eibar’s spirits were broken.
Cádiz’s style of play has been likened to Atletico Madrid’s under Diego Simeone – defensive, combative, and explosive – and the Andalusians will have the chance to give the masters of this type of game a taste of their own medicine when they travel to the Wanda Metropolitano next week. After Atleti undertake a round trip of nearly 7,000km to Moscow during the week, could the yellow submarine carry on their rich away form?
Julen Lopetegui has a task on his hands to stop the Sevilla rut. Three consecutive defeats in the league has seen them slip down to 16th in the table, with any slim hopes of a title challenge this year slowly vanishing week on week.
The manager needs to find different options for how to set his side up without losing their trademark intensity and attacking disposition. Sevilla lined out against Athletic Bilbao with probably their strongest XI, perhaps except for Youssef En-Nesyri in for Munir El Haddadi. Nine of the same players started the midweek Champions League game with Rennes. After taking an early lead with a goal from the out-of-sorts Moroccan striker, the Andalusians fell visibly tired in the second half and looked like the relentless schedule of playing twice a week has started to catch up with them.
Lopetegui introduced Franco Vázquez, Oliver Torres, and Nemanja Gudelj with Sevilla still ahead on the scoreboard. The three made little impact on the game, and from a defensive perspective failed to add any energy into a waning midfield.
In the other dugout, Gaizka Garitano brought on Iker Muniain, who used his wits to act quickly from a corner to equalise, and Oihan Sancet who put Athletic in the lead with his first touch of the ball. All in all, the Basques showed impressive passion and energy to turn the game around, but were invited to do so from a lacklustre Sevilla side who let a game that was comfortably in their grip slip away too easily.
How bad can it get? Eight points from six games is Barcelona’s worst start to a campaign for 18 years, when Louis van Gaal was in charge. The culés’ uninspired display against Deportivo Alavés was in stark contrast to their midweek Champions League win away to Juventus.
Cristian Tello is on fire. The Real Betis attacker has four goals to his name this campaign already after scoring two against Elche. He found the assist for Sanabria’s goal too to open the scoring. In a Betis side that has shown some inconsistency this season, he and Sergio Canales are shining under Mauricio Pellegrini.
Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid both enjoyed professional yet unspectacular victories against Huesca and Osasuna respectively. In a season as compressed and busy as this, professional yet unspectacular results are perfect, as they watch fellow title/Champions League contenders Barcelona and Sevilla slip further down the table. The four have more European ties this coming midweek.
Goal of the week: Eden Hazard’s brilliant long-range strike to give Madrid the advantage over Huesca. It is only the Belgian’s second goal for the champions, and his first league appearance this season following injuries, but what a way to mark a return. There’s been a lot of discussion about Madrid’s inability to find the back of the net in recent weeks, but if the ex-Chelsea man can hit the form he showed in London, those goalscoring issues should be at least somewhat alleviated soon.
Eden Hazard with a WONDER GOAL! 😱
Just his second Madrid goal, but what a strike that is! 💥 pic.twitter.com/2uxb39jHCs
— Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) October 31, 2020