What has happened to Getafe?
Over the past couple of years, the ascent of this historically insignificant club from a dull suburb of Madrid has been the most unlikely success story in Spain.
In 2019, Getafe came within two points of qualification for the Champions League, and had the significant consolation of a best-ever fifth place finish in La Liga.
Last season they reached the Europa League last 16, knocking out Ajax along the way, and spent many weeks in La Liga’s top four before a late collapse led to a still-respectable eighth-place finish.
Right now, though, Getafe are in a terrible mess, and look serious candidates for relegation. They are the lowest scorers in La Liga with just 17 goals, and their previously excellent defense is no better than mid-table.
Their current form is terrible. In the last five games they have picked up just one point, and scored only one goal – failing to even register a single shot on target in either of their last two outings.
Most worryingly, Getafe are looking like a broken team, bearing none of the characteristics that made them successful over recent years.
In the past, they were just horrible to play against. Aggressive, physical, relentlessly intense and constantly in the opposition’s faces, their compact shape and non-stop running made it very difficult for the opposition to find any space to play.
Now, though, that’s not really the case – as we can see by delving into the stats.
Last season, Getafe led La Liga in the number of times they closed down the opposition on the ball, with an average of 164.8 pressures per game. But in the last five games, that number has dipped alarmingly to 113.8 pressures per game.
Similarly, last season they were the top team in recovering loose balls, with 106.4 per game. But in the last five outings, they have made just 75.4 ball recoveries per game.
Those figures suggest Getafe are simply not working as hard as they used to, with the consequence that they are much easier to play against.
The average number of passes made by their opposition into the final third and into the penalty area have taken big huge jumps compared to last season, and the number of shot-creating actions generated by Getafe’s opponents has increased from 11 per game last season to 17.6 in the last five games.
They are also experiencing big problems at the other end. Getafe have never been known for expansive attacking play, but they did used to be effective: last season they completed more crosses into the penalty area than any other team, but in the current campaign they only rank seventh in that category.
And again, they have particularly struggled in recent weeks, totalling only 6 crosses into the box in the last 5 games.
Getafe have maintained their league-best position in one category: the number of fouls committed. But whereas they previously could be described as good fouls, committed purposely with the intention of controlling the flow of the game, now there’s just an impression of desperate ill discipline.
That especially applies to the man at the middle of everything, manager Jose Bordalas, who has been sent off from the sidelines in two consecutive games amid a growing sense that his Getafe team have lost their essence.
If they don’t recover it soon, they could also end up losing their top flight status.