The Horny Zombies of Getafe

There are some nice images from this weekend’s action in Spain.  I particularly like the one of Alaves’ Takashi Inui  (‘Taka’ to his friends) being hugged at the end of the game by his ex-team-mates from Eibar, even though he’d just scored against them and celebrated the goal,  breaking the unspoken Spanish law which states: ‘Thou shalt not celebrate a goal against thy ex-team-mates unless thou hast not played for said team for some time and/or thou hast left in a cloud of pissed-offness’.  Inui, polite to a fault as the Japanese tend to be, begged for forgiveness after the game but decided not to commit suicide on his ceremonial sword – possibly because the result was 1-1 but also because his departure from Eibar to Betis at the end of last season was conducted in perfectly amicable circumstances. In fact Inui failed miserably at Betis, despite the fact that his style of play suited theirs, clearly one of the reasons  why Quique Setién fancied him, only to subsequently leave him rotting on the bench.

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Whatever, the picture of Eibar’s goalie Dmitrovic embracing him in father-like fashion after the game is just what the country needed after a week of bitching, moaning and Ramos-Gate, all of which have been rather tiresome.  Eibar’s coach José Luis Mendilibar (‘Mendi’ to his mates) was told of Inui’s apology during the press conference.  Since Inui considers the Eibar coach to be his father and mentor, Mendilibar, for whom some sort of prize should be awarded for ‘old-fashioned bloke-who-still-sees-football-as-sport-not-business’, replied that Inui was  ‘un salao’ (a funny guy) and that instead of apologising he just shouldn’t score against them again.  Alavés, in 5th spot, were in  fact attempting to stay on the coat tails of magic Getafe, now well consolidated in 4th spot after beating in-form Huesca 2-1 at home.  Jaime Mata (his name means ‘James kills’) scored both goals and thus becomes the leading scorer amongst Spain-born players, with thirteen goals.  He overtook Espanyol’s Borja Iglesias to lead the Spanish pack of the ‘Pichichi’ list, but above him there are still five foreigners.

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Jimmy the Killer

No matter – for Mata celebrating after his second goal was also one of the weekend’s key images, consolidating little Getafe in fourth place and making their pretensions to Champions league football next season ever more plausible.  This is quite remarkable, and would represent yet another significant inch in the column of Spain’s European exploits in general, extending the range of teams who have participated in both of the major competitions.  In the Premier League, Watford’s position is admirable, but the Champions League is a closed club for all but six teams.  Leicester were the exception that proved the rule, but Getafe’s rise this season has been remarkable, all the more for being unexpected.  Besides, Leicester has a population of some 350,000 folks and a top-flight tradition that far outshines that of Getafe (150,000), with its bleak little Coliseum stadium, shivering on a promontory to the south of Madrid, but exactly in the geographical centre of the Iberian Peninsula.

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The ‘Coliseum’ – packed as usual

And to talk of Getafe as a ‘city’ is technically correct but in truth there is no real frontier between its municipal demarcation lines and Madrid’s Puerta del Sol 13 kms to the north.  Urban conurbations tend to blur the lines which football fans otherwise identify for the purposes of belonging, and whilst it would be unfair to deny Getafe its own character and people, it is nevertheless difficult for its representative team to persuade a swathe of its population not to support Atlético or Real Madrid.  Rayo Vallecano do seem to have achieved this, but maybe due to the special nature of Vallecas, with Leganés too having an independent feel to it, to some extent.   I’d need to live for a while in Madrid to understand it perfectly, but the figures speak for themselves. Getafe have 12,000 paid-up members, but their average attendance just broke the 10,000 mark last season.  It’s improved a little this season but you would think they’d be rushing to the doors and pounding upon them, given the success of the campaign so far.  I visited the ground in 2013 and wrote a piece for ESPN, which you can find here should you wish.

One reason for the non-rush may be simply that their style of play is still a little on the pragmatic side – some say cynical – but it’s also that Getafe is simply unglamorous.  It still seems slightly weird that both Bernd Schuster and Michal Laudrup have been coaches there. However, their belligerent President since 2002, the infamous  Angel Torres, is always good for a few soundbites.

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Angel Torres – he’s just seen a zombie

At the beginning of the current season he claimed that there was a conspiracy at league headquarters to relegate Getafe because there were too many Madrid-based clubs in the top flight and it was hurting business – in the sense that there were too many games in the area on any given weekend.   Six months later and his charges are threatening to have the mellifluous chimes of the Champs League ringing around the working-class blocks of flats that surround their rather characterless stadium.  For a team that was still in the 7th tier of Spanish football as recently as 1985, that is some going.

Torres, a self-made businessman with the shuttered sense of self-confidence that characterises rags-to-riches working men, has over the years courted controversy with considerable gusto.  Perhaps the club’s greatest moment came in 2011 when it produced an advertising campaign encouraging their supporters to breed more enthusiastically, and thus increase the club’s fanbase.  This imaginative campaign, possibly the first and last of its kind,  was accompanied by a short porn video entitled ‘The horny zombies of Getafe’ in which the fans were exhorted to donate their seed to Madrid’s sperm banks, all of whose locations were helpfully indicated by the naked zombies in the video.  The classy little film failed to make  the cut either for the Goyas or the Oscars, and as far as one can ascertain does not seem to have had any appreciable effect on Getafe’s annual birth-rate.

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And you thought I was making it up

The club has been in Europe before, however, and famously reached the quarter-finals of the old UEFA Cup in 2008, when the mighty Bayern Munich visited the Coliseum and scraped a 3-3 draw, putting them through on away goals. They made the Europa League in 2010-11 too, but failed to progress beyond the group stage.  Maybe their time has come.  They’re certainly not going to be relegated, and since first gaining promotion in 2004 have only dropped back to the 2nd Division for a single season, in 2017.  In James Killer they have unearthed an unlikely goalscorer – unlikely in the sense that despite his good record (he managed 41 from 71 with his last club Valladolid) he had never played in the top flight. Given that he’s 30 this year, that’s a slightly unusual story.  When Jorge Molina came on in the second half (36 years old) the veteran forward line proved too much for plucky Huesca, who had in fact opened the scoring and looked to be continuing their recent revival. All this without Angel Rodriguez, the guy whose goals last season projected Getafe into a decent 8th place finish and who now finds himself on the bench.

Until Real Madrid unexpectedly beat Valladolid 1-4 on Sunday night (‘unexpectedly’ given the frenzied and fidgety week they’d had), Getafe were looking to be breathing down their necks for that 3rd place spot.  It’s getting serious.  Down at the other end Celta dropped into the bottom three after losing at home to yo-yo Betis – and Villarreal finally justified Liga fever’s faith in them by winning 0-2 at Levante, culminating a decent week after their win in the Europa League in midweek at Zenit – not an easy game by any means.

Next week, Betis and Barça looks an attractive one, as does Athletic and Atlético. Our new friends Getafe visit Valencia, which might be a tough one for them but will certainly prove their bona fides if they emerge unscathed.  Meanwhile, if you meet any naked zombies stumbling around your neighbourhood, just humour them.

16 thoughts on “The Horny Zombies of Getafe”

  1. Phil, naked zombies eh!

    When Getafe were venturing into uncharted waters this season I did remember your piece Phil! How they lack any distinct identity lost amongst the capital clubs. I never realized that they are from Madrid…..so we have White house, Wanda, Karl Marx Vallecas, Cucumbers and GETAFE! A mini league by itself….

    When was the last time a Spanish striker won Pichichi? While watching Barca-Vallodolid, De Tomas was mentioned as the leading Spanish scorer till that point….need to do some googling myself;-)

    What do you think of Atleti vs Juve?

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      1. London in ’10-’11 supplied Tottenham, Chelsea, and Arsenal. I glanced through the wiki list and believe only Quini, Hugo Sanchez, and Ronaldo won the Pichichi with multiple teams. Didn’t realize Bebeto had won it. And I totally forgot about Guiza. I would’ve guessed Raul.

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      2. In Euro 2008, Guiza missed a PK against Italy and was a sub in the final. I didn’t remember this–thank you internet–and actually assumed he was crowded off the biggest stages by players like Torres and Villa. I am also fuzzy about when I first started reading Ed’s stuff. I recall it being as a correspondent during Euro 2008, as I’m pretty sure of being entertained by his recount of that Italy shootout. Thought it would be fun to re-read what he wrote about the Guiza PK but my Google search failed me. (Liga Fever repost, or does someone else have the rights to that article?) My search did, however, turn up an amusing one for Americans (me). Regarding a Euro 2008 warm up match, I found a player ratings article from The New York Times, and the main image was of Guiza and Bocanegra. Freddy Adu was also on the pitch that day. Anyhow, didn’t come across the “El ultimo pichichi español”. Nice find. Were I Guiza, I’d have a business card made with that on it and hand it out like George Clooney in Ocean’s 11.

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  2. This week’s title and the support for it formed an entertaining surprise. It feels like something that should’ve achieved a Sharknado-level following.

    Hard to see the top 3 changing, but the other 17 positions should provide plenty to discuss until the final matchday. I think Valencia will either overcome Getafe or set a record for draws in a season.

    “James Killer” got me sidetracked on etymology, and there are some interesting articles out there linking “matador” and “checkmate”. I haven’t seen Mata play much, but going back to last year his name on stats tables, weekly scoring recaps, etc., has been common. Glad he has continued to score this season.

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  3. Phil-Time for one of your long reads on Zizou’s return……some might say going back is never a good idea but personally I think this is very good for Los Blancos. As dyed in wool Blaugrana I welcome his return…..

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    1. I can’t see how his return is anything but a good thing for them in the current environment. Just when I was thoroughly enjoying their demise. I actually expect he’s going to start some new era in Madrid, if he has more of a carte blanche than he did before. And yes I’d also love to read Liga Fever’s thoughts on Zizou.

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      1. Maybe Ed is more the guy to do that. Personally I’m not so sure it’s a good idea. It’ll work in the short term, but the short term is f****d anyway. It may be that he’ll sweep with the broom, but I doubt it. It just makes the non-policy planning of Pérez seem even more autistic. I’ve said all along – they need a Director of Football, and they need to clear out all the jobsworth sycophants like Butragueño and Sánchez. Better still, Pérez should take a long holiday. The club’s sick from the top. It’s obvious.

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