Manuel Veth –
Getafe vs Krasnodar – Thursday, December 12, 17:55 GMT/18:55 CET – Coliseum Alfonso Pérez, Getafe – Spain
It can be dispiriting trying to upgrade one’s goals when over half the other clubs in the league are worth more. By rights, Getafe should be nowhere near European competition given their modest wealth, minuscule stadium capacity and lack of experience. Even geographically they have been shunted aside, edged out to the periphery of the Madrid region. Any hopes of developing a larger fanbase is instantly dashed by the more attractive and historic sides within the city’s boundaries. Upsetting the odds is something of a specialty for Pepe Bordalas though.
This is only Getafe’s third European campaign in their history, but it could so easily have been on a far grander stage. A comfortable win rather than their 2-2 draw with Villareal on the final day of last season would have seen them remarkably rubbing shoulders with the elite in the Champions League. On the surface, it would have been a complete mismatch of resources, and in all likelihood, the best outcome would have been a return to the Europa League anyway. Real Madrid were held to a goalless draw earlier this year, while Leganes are the only side other than Barcelona to emerge from the Coliseum with the spoils.
What is unusual about this fixture is that Getafe are no longer the underdogs. They are done scrapping around with just a sword to fight for their lives; they’ve grafted to earn the emperor’s wooden sword, and it is very much a double-edged weapon. The respect that will be shown to them from now on will mean they have to raise their levels of intensity even higher. On the other hand, it is a sign of their remarkable progress.
Krasnodar have many distinct differences when placed next to their hosts. For starters, they are backed by a relatively bottomless pit that has built breathtaking facilities including their own stadium designed to inspire the same awe that gladiators felt when trembling into the Colosseum in Rome. Even within their short lifespan, they’ve become more seasoned continental competitors, qualifying from every Europa League group stage after their debut season five years ago.
Although they are both in direct contention for European qualification in their respective domestic leagues, the momentum of each side is quite different. Getafe are neck and neck with Real Sociedad, who occupy the last Champions League spot in La Liga, and are wedged into a pack of four teams split by a single point, including Atletico Madrid just below them. Meanwhile, Krasnodar are second but only one point ahead of fifth in the Russian Premier League with hopes of chasing Zenit St. Petersburg all but extinguished with a 10-point gap now gaping. The deflating agony of falling at the final hurdle to enter the Champions League is still in the back of their minds, not to mention the pressure of being the last remaining Russian side in European competition.
Coefficients matter to Russian clubs in a way they never will to Spain. As things stand, the top four associations have seven places across UEFA’s two club competitions. To lose one of those Spain would have to drop from their current top spot to fifth, currently occupied by France that has almost half the points of Spain. In other words, Spanish clubs could all be knocked out at the earliest stage for the next four years and they would still keep seven places. For Russia, it has been a titanic battle with Portugal to hold onto sixth place, and with it a sixth club in Europe. Portuguese clubs have outperformed their Russian counterparts significantly this campaign and are set to take back the extra spot that Russia has enjoyed on the current qualification cycle. It is doubtful that Krasnodar will care about that tonight; nevertheless, the weight of expectation lies heavily on their shoulders.
Getafe vs Krasnodar – Players to Watch
Djené #2 – Getafe
There is no point window-dressing the style of play Bordalas has rigidly implemented at Getafe: defence first. At the heart of that ethos is his captain, the Togolese defender Djené. It would be a mistake to characterise their team as simply blood and thunder: Djené rarely engages with opposition players unless he absolutely needs to. In the Europa League this season, he has only attempted four tackles in three full games, winning three of them, has averaged just two clearances and fewer than 50 passes per game. In all those metrics he ranks in the lower half of all centre-backs. His quality lies in his leadership and reading of the game; with the onus on Krasnodar to score his role will be critical in ensuring safe passage.
Yuriy Gazinskiy #8 – Krasnodar
After a lengthy injury layoff, the tall midfielder is back in action. His return has come too late to arrest a slide away from a domestic title challenge, but it could not have been more timely for his side’s continental aspirations. One glaring absence from Krasnodar’s usually fluid performances has been an ability to control the pace of the game, and this is where Gazinskiy comes in. Last season he chipped in with an impressive eight assists in the league despite lacking any great pace of positioning high up the pitch. If he can influence possession in the opposition half then all the better, but first and foremost it will be his recycling of the ball that will be the more telling factor.
Getafe vs Krasnodar – Match Stats
- Despite both teams being on the same points, Getafe only need to avoid defeat to qualify
- In their last four home European matches, Getafe have lost twice and have only scored two goals
- Krasnodar Brazilian winger Wanderson played for the Spanish hosts three seasons ago
- Krasnodar have a simple task: win and they qualify, anything else and they are out
- The Russians have lost all four of their competitive matches in Spain, including two last season
- They have won exactly once in each of their five Europa League campaigns so far, including this one
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Getafe vs Krasnodar: 1-1
Getafe vs Krasnodar – Possible Lineups
Sorla – Suárez, Djené, Cabrera, Olivera – Nyom, Aramabarri, Maksimović, Cucurella – Rodríguez, Mata
Manager: Pepe Bordalás
Safonov – Petrov, Martynovich, Spajić, Ramírez – Olsson, Gazinskiy, Vilhenna – Suleymanov, Berg, Wanderson
Manager: Murad Musaev
Andrew Flint is an English freelance football writer living in Tyumen, Western Siberia, with his wife and two daughters. He has featured on These Football Times, Russian Football News, Four Four Two and Sovetski Sport, mostly focusing on full-length articles about derbies, youth development and the game in Russia. Due to his love for FC Tyumen, he is particularly interested in lower league Russian football and is looking to establish himself in time for the 2018 World Cup. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMijFlint.