Getafe v Real Madrid, La Liga, January 3, 2011
The new year in La Liga kicks-off with a mouth-watering Madrid derby as the city minnows Getafe host powerhouse Real.
Terming Getafe minnows however is a slight injustice to Madrid’s third biggest team. Los Azulones have been one of Spanish footballâ€™s success stories over recent years, rising from a relatively modest status to become one of the elite teams in the country. Getafe, a team with limited resources, have forged a reputation of nurturing talented youths before selling them on for big money to keep the club afloat. And within that regard Real’s last goalscorer of 2010, Pedro Leon, who is warming the bench with Los Blancos after being signed from Getafe last summer, is a perfect example of how the south Madrid side achieve their success.
Although viewed as a selling club, Getafe have managed to maintain their standing as a top half-of-the-table team this season. Michelâ€™s men were expected to find the going tough after losing both Leon and forward Roberto Soldado last summer, but El Geta have managed to shrug off the naysayers to once again excel. Occupying seventh as 2011 springs into life, Getafe sit a mere two points off Champions League qualification as Real arrive at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
And Getafe will be confident that they can upset Mourinho’s Madridstas.
Getafe finished 2010 like a house of fire with a seven-game unbeaten streak including a run of five straight wins heading into the new year. That positive sequence of events arrived off the back of a disastrous November during which time coach Michel witnessed his charges losing four out of five matches, as well as being dumped out of the Europa League. Showing their resilience though, Getafe bounced back in December against the likes of Sevilla, Mallorca and Villarreal, and Getafe will hope to continue that form into January.
On the field Getafe will likely line up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, with Jaime Gavilan, Manu del Moral and the in-form Pedro Rios supporting new favourite Nikolas Miku up-front. Star midfielder Dani Parejo will then play the holding role alongside Derek Boateng.
While Getafe can look forward to the match with relish, Real Madrid face the unenviable task of trying to win their 14th game out of the 17 matches this season just to try and keep hold of Barcelona’s coattails. Having been battered 5-nil at the Nou Camp earlier this season, Los Blancos now find themselves playing catch-up for as long as Barca refuse to lose.
The Special One has defensive problems ahead of the trip to the Coliseum. Centre-halves Ricardo Carvalho and Pepe are both suspended for the derby, so Sergio Ramos and Raul Albiol are likely to play as an unfamiliar pairing at the heart of the Madrid backline.
More positive however could be the long awaited return of Kaka. It has been a difficult 18 months for the former World Player of the Year as the Brazilian playmaker struggled to reached the highs of his Milan days at the Bernabeu before he was forced to spend five months on the sidelines following surgery on his left knee. Happily, though, Kaka has now returned to training with the Madrid first team and he could well make an appearance on the subs’ bench against Getafe.
In attack Karim Benzema is likely to be deployed as the sole striker, with Gonzalo Higuain out of the picture through injury. While the Frenchman continues to try and prove his worth, Madrid’s greatest threat should come from their fantastic midfield triumvirate of Mesut Ozil, Angel di Maria and the irrepressible Cristiano Ronaldo. Getafe’s ability to close down and cut off the supply lines to these star players will be the deciding factor as to how the match pans out.
Both Real and Getafe have won their last five games in all competitions, but the hosts have a knack of upsetting their neighbours at the Coliseum. They have lost only twice to Real there in the last six seasons, and another win on Monday night will again reinforce the belief that the Catalans, rather than the Madridstas, are the team to beta in Spain ((and Europe) this season.
101gg predicts: Getafe 1 – Real Madrid 2