A rare Thursday game for us, as we travel to Madrid to take on Getafe. This year's version of the "Burger Boys" (though they don't have Burger King as a shirt sponsor these days, I can't help but remember it) has been struggling, for sure.
Getafe were promoted to the Primera since 2004, quite amazing for a club that started in the regional leagues in 1983. And they've had a taste of success in Europe too, knocking off Galatasaray and Benfica, and only succumbing to Bayern Munich on away goals, in the 2007-08 UEFA Cup. And they've played (and lost) two Copa del Rey finals. But in spite of this, the club just hasn't been able to build a large fan base.
Perhaps part of it has been due to their uninspired league form most seasons, their best finish being 6th in 2009-10. Most years, a mid-table finish has been assured by now, and the final couple of months of the league have been rather uninteresting for El Geta. This year, though, is different.
Getafe are in the midst of an astonishing run of results. 15 matches without a win (their last was versus Levante in November), and as a result of Almeria's win on Monday, the azulones are now in the drop zone. Unfortunately for them, their goal difference is worse than Rayo or Elche (though they still have to play both those teams), and they don't fare well in head-to-head matchups either. The schedule isn't promising, either: they still have to play Barcelona and Atletico, and face Elche, Rayo, Valencia and Levante on the road. And after this match they have only three home games left, and one of those is against Atleti. SO today is really a must-win for them, I feel.
Looking at their roster, they have some decent enough players: Moya in goal, Sarabia, Pedro Leon in midfield, Colunga up front....but things just haven't clicked. 16th in offense, 15th in defense translates to relegation worries.
Tidbit: How many of you remember Sammir from our Europa League matches with Dinamo Zagreb? Well, he was loaned to Getafe in January and has made a couple of appearances for them, including a start last match against Athletic Club. The way these things go, he'll probably have a good game against us.
Villarreal: If Getafe are suffering a significant loss of form, you can't say much better about the Yellow Submarine of late. No wins in the last four matches and only three in the 10 we've played so far in the second half of the campaign. Injuries, particularly at center back, have made it difficult for Marcelino to play a settled back four, or even players used to playing at those positions. Up front, if the first half of the campaign showed us what Uche, Perbet and Jony could accomplish, the second half, so far, has shown us their limitations. Gio dos Santos seems to be trying to carry the load, but he's more a creator than a scorer.
12 goals for Villarreal in our last 10 matches, compared to 37 in our first 19; 15 goals allowed in the last 10 (21 in the first 19), and no clean sheets in our last nine games, are indicative of the problems we're having.
This match doesn't look any more promising, what with Chechu Dorado injured again, Mario Musacchio and Mario Gaspar both injured, and Pablo Iñiguez of course still on the shelf. Marcelino has to fashion some sort of back line out of Jokic, Pantic, Gabriel, Jaume Costa and B-teamer Albert Blazquez, called up for the first time. I know the coach has said he wants to play 4-4-2, but could we play three at the back? Doubtful we will, but still....
Cani is still getting game fit after a long injury spell, but loanee Oliver Torres has impressed, we have Trigueros, Moi, Juan Roman all available as well (Aquino is out with an injury). Bruno and Pina have been the regular pivote pair, but the problem has come farther forward. Uche's last couple of starts have offered nothing of note, Jeremy Perbet hasn't done much better, and Jony Pereira has pretty much disappeared from the depth chart. Which leaves Gio. It's been hard to tell sometimes whether he's playing as a second striker, or what. His talent is undeniable, but he gets caught offside way too often, which is a problem when he's the one farthest forward.
Tidbit: Villarreal last won in the grandly named "Coliseum Alfonso Pérez" in April 2009, when Capdevila and Joseba Llorente scored in a 2-1 win. Three members of the current Submarine saw action that day: Cani and Bruno played the entire match for Villarreal, and Ike Uche, then with Getafe, entered in the 67th minute. Among the other players on the Getafe bench that day was their current coach, Cosmin Contra.
Tidbit #2: Clos Gomez will be the referee. Anything can happen.
Prediction: With our poor record against Getafe, and our injury list, I'm trying to be an optimist but can't see a way through this one. 1-2 to Getafe.