El Centrocampista

Madrid minnows begin to emerge from the shadows

In a city that contains the Santiago Bernabeu – home of the world’s most decorated club side, and the Vicente Calderon which houses the winners of two of the last three Europa League and UEFA Super Cups, Getafe’s Alfonso Perez Coliseum is, to say the least, concealed.

So much so that it was the only stadium in the Primera to notch an average attendance of below 10,000 fans in the 2011-2012 season. However something special seems to be happening in the smaller parts Madrid. Albeit very temporarily, the table currently has Getafe above both Atletico and Real, with Madrid’s fourth club, Rayo Vallecano, the highest of the quartet.

Yet there’s a valid sense of optimism for Getafe following a summer that saw them finish the transfer window with the second highest in net spend in the league allowing an already impressive manager to improve on an already talented squad. After making his name during a miraculous time at Levante where he returned the Valencian club back to Spain’s top division before keeping them there with financial constraints among the highest in Europe, Luis Garcia was named coach of Getafe ahead of the 2011/12 season where he delivered an impressive debut season 11th place.

Now Garcia looks to improve on his last campaign after hitting a net spend of €4.5 million (second only to Barcelona’s €32.5 million this summer) to secure the likes of goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya on a permanent deal along with young striker Alvaro Vazquez, the dominant Xavi Torres, La Liga stalwart Angel Lafita, and Spain under-19 star Paco Alcacer on loan from Valencia.

After successive years of selling their best players Getafe aim to move forward under the ownership of the Dubai based Royal Emirates Group a season after their €90 million takeover, and despite much ridicule it looks like progress is a possibility with many around them struggling to cope with the rigours of Spanish football.

Getafe fans haven’t had it easy for a multitude of factors mainly coming down to location as previously mentioned, and when the REG took over the club with plans in place to re-name it ‘Team Dubai’ it looked like more humiliation was set to follow for supporters after seasons of the jersey’s they wore featuring Burger King shirt sponsorship with the face of the ‘King’ on the inside, which players were encouraged to reveal on pulling the shirt over their head during goal celebrations. That’s embarrassing enough for the Azulones without mentioning an advertising campaign encouraging supporters to become sperm donors in an effort to boost season ticket sales.

The ‘Team Dubai’ leak was an instant PR mess for the new owners and the response to their takeover was received badly by the media, especially when you compare it to the hugely positive reaction of the other recent foreign takeover in La Liga, that of Malaga CF. Both owners outrageously promised competition for La Liga’s big two, but when you analyse the two clubs current situations it’s clear early opinions need to be re-addressed.

Getafe are now a side looking to mid table and above rather than avoiding relegation in a league where most clubs are struggling for structure and stability; the starting eleven has the capability to challenge most La Liga sides on its day, optimised by Week 2’s win over Real Madrid, featuring a fantastic winner by 23 year old Moroccan midfielder Abdelaziz Barrada who is quickly developing into one of La Liga’s and World football’s top prospects.

In remains to be seen if in the long term Getafe are a club to frequently invest and reach European football once again but it looks like we may very well be witnessing the evolution of Madrid’s supposed third team into a genuine La Liga thoroughbred.

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