The edgy, less illustrious neighbours of the Madrid giants are on a roll after an impressive last season and it must be stressed: the evolution of Getafe has been no fluke. But is it sustainable?
For a team in the shadows of their grander neighbours, Getafe have put themselves firmly in the spotlight thanks to their recent outstanding achievements. Achievements that have come to fruition thanks, in large, to one man: their talented Coach.
Getafe are led by their studious and meticulous manager José Bordalás, who has worked wonders since his arrival. Los Azulones were in the relegation zone of the Segunda División when he took charge, yet he masterfully navigated Getafe to promotion that very same season - overcoming Huesca and Tenerife in the play offs. Since then, he has successfully stabilized the club by molding together a team of players with a point to prove or clever signings from left field.
The Madrid-based team’s return to La Liga ended with an impressive 8th-placed finish followed by last seasons magnificent 5th-place berth - where the club were challenging all the way for an unlikely, yet would have been deserving, Champions League classification. Not bad for a team with the fifth lowest budget in La Liga. Sustainability being the key.
Overachieving certainly springs to mind however, thanks to a solid organization, high work-ethic and sheer guts, Bordalás’ team has a notable 43% win rate, and the boss has a keen eye for the team that he wants, whilst being able to work to a small budget.
He and his club have successfully worked within their means and acquired talented individuals to fit into the spirited work ethos and togetherness of the club. The ‘all hands on deck’ approach from his players has contributed to this huge reward. Players such as Jorge Molina have been mighty impressive and invaluable. After leaving Real Betis, he was the forward fulcrum of Getafe’s promotion season with 20 goals, and has continued that form with eight goals two seasons ago, then plundered 14 goals last season - making him, in spite of being at the club for just three seasons, their record goal scorer with 45 goals.
His strike partner Jaime Mata was just as impressive, scoring 14 goals, which earned him a Spanish call up - making his debut for La Roja in their win against Norway in Mestalla.
Midfielder Francisco Portillo provided the all-important assists for the front pairing and, after an unimpressive stay with Betis, firmly found his feet in Getafe, showing the quality from his Malaga days when he was part of their historic Champions League campaign and only a whisker away from a semi-final place.
Another impressive performer has been their Togolese defensive centre back Djené Dakonam, whom has proven to be a shrewd buy since his move from Belgium side Sint-Truidense with many outstanding performances and proving to be a rock solid and effective defender.
Their players have worked immensely hard for their success and the town from the south suburb of Madrid will deservingly welcome European football once again. Naturally, there is much excitement on their return to the Europa League. Their supporters will have fond memories of their most successful European jaunt - getting to the quarter-finals stage in the 2007/08 season, narrowly losing on away goals 4-4 to the might of Bayern Munich. The first leg yielded an impressive 1-1 draw in the Allianz Arena followed by a thrilling return match at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez which ended 3-3 after extra time.
Getafe are reading themselves for their European return and recently signed promising left-back Marc Cucurella on loan with a view to a permanent deal worth €6m. An astute and clever signing given that he was an integral player in Eibar’s successful last season in La Liga.
The Madrid side can look forward to their fresh European campaign with the knowledge they can attack this campaign with complete freedom and revelry. Although the added challenge of European football will be a juggling act, the club and its manager have demonstrated that the consistency shown through their hard work and resolve, which have brought them this far, are in fact sustainable.
The club’s successful track record under the tenure of Bordalás proves that this is a team not built on quicksand - quite the opposite: the club maintains a strong foundation through laying down the necessary groundwork to ensure long term success.
Therefore, the signs are there that Los Azulones have every opportunity to continue their progressive evolution and most of all, continue to show all the hallmarks of a gutsy Getafe.