Ahead of their game against Valencia at the Mestalla on Sunday, Getafe find themselves as one of only four Primera Liga clubs, including Valencia, to have collected the maximum points tally so far this season. Having beaten Osasuna 2-0 away from home and taken all three points from Racing last week, Getafe now sit third in the table, above Valencia on goal difference.
Manager, Bernd Schuster, refuses to get carried way , however, and insists that his team must focus on survival in Spain’s top division and not become distracted by talk of titles and trophies. The former Barcelona and Real Madrid player says “This happened to us last season, but this year things are a little different because teams like Sevilla, Valencia and Barcelona have started very strongly. I’m happy being third but I’m even happier that we have six points because that is what will count at the end of the season”
The German coach is certainly speaking from experience. As Madrid’s third team, Getafe enjoyed a lengthy spell at the top end of the table last season, before eventually slipping down to ninth place, above their more famous neighbours Atletico.
Far from this being a disaster, however, the club can consider survival and consolidating their position amongst Spain’s elite clubs as a huge success. It is not only Getafe’s modest support of just under 14,000 fans who follow the team at their home ground , the ‘Coliseum’ , who know that Schuster is performing a minor miracle. Bernd Schuster has been linked with Betis, Sociedad and Real Madrid over the summer and even turned down a firm offer from Boca Juniors to remain at Getafe.
However, as fortunate as Getafe can consider themselves in retaining the services of their manager, they have been rather less so in terms of playing staff. The club has lost the services of eight of the players who put them in European contention last season. Diego Rivas has gone off to kick people for Real Sociedad, Gavilan returned to Valencia, Riki left for Deportivo and top goal scorer Mariano Pernia felt he would be better off at Atletico.
Schuster has had to almost completely rebuild the side by searching for bargains from the lower leagues and , as a result, Getafe include ten new faces in their squad this season. The coach's caution is therefore understandable, but he has made a couple of very astute signings and potentially one of the best buys of the summer in Argentine international goalkeeper “Duck” Abbondanzieri from Boca Juniors. The keeper leads the Zamora and with two clean sheets has been outstanding so far this season. Getafe’s defensive record is not down to the goalkeeper alone , however, and the back four, lead by the hugely reliable Belenguer ensure that their keeper has a little to do as possible. Another of the new signings, Albin, a young winger from National in Uruguay, will certainly be worth keeping an eye on this season if Schuster can help him adjust.
Schuster’s pragmatism ahead of the clash against Valencia has filtered through to his players and Swiss midfielder Fabio Celestini, current top goal scorer, knows exactly what the priorities are; “If we win in the Mestalla the league positions would have a little more meaning and it would be a great thing for our fans,''
“Nine points from nine would be impressive and I believe we are capable of achieving that. We need to put Valencia under a lot of pressure all over the pitch, and not let them feel comfortable when they have the ball.''
Schuster still has injury doubts over Uruguayan Juan Albin while Argentinean Lucas Licht has not recovered from his knee injury.