The fashionable district. The working-class south. The established. The disrespected. Commerce. Industry. A comparison between the two top Madrid clubs. Getafe just wants to be in the conversation. They are in the city too, they say. Real Madrid does not disrespect them because they are not in Real’s radar. With Atlético Madrid struggling to steer their campaign in the right direction, Getafe CF had a chance to be noticed in the capital against Real Madrid at the eminent and illustrious Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.
The recent difficulties for Real Madrid have been well documented. Outclassed by Sevilla, beaten by AC Milan, mediocre against Sporting Gijón, and embarrassed by Alcorcón. All told, one win, one draw, and three losses in the last five for Madrid. It only took until the middle of October for the rumors to start about the future and viability of Manuel Pellegrini at the Bernabéu. The last event that Pellegrini needed to happen was another slip-up at the hands of their unnoticed cousin from the southern part of the Madrid metropolitan area.
The first half hour of the match saw few chances between the two teams, and the funereal atmosphere within the Santiago Bernabéu did not help in spurring on Real Madrid. What sparked both the Madridistas and the players occurred in the 28th minute, when Raúl Albiol unjustly received a straight red card. Apparently, in the eyes of referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz, Albiol prevented Getafe striker Roberto Soldado from a direct goal-scoring opportunity. Albiol did pull the shirt of Soldado somewhat, but they both went for the ball in the air, leading to inevitable contact. At worst, Mateu Lahoz should have given a yellow card to Albiol, but this highly controversial call gave Getafe the one-man advantage and more hope that they could upset Real Madrid in their own stadium.
Pedro León’s subsequent free kick could not curl enough as it flew a couple yards wide of the right post, but Getafe neglected to use the extra man to their benefit. Paradoxically, Real Madrid actually played better with more vim and vigor after the red card and constantly threatened the Getafe goal through halftime. Kaká and Karim Benzema played a two-man game down the left wing in one attack, with Kaká laying a perfect pull-back from the byline to Benzema, but Benzema’s strongly struck shot stung goalkeeper Oscar Ustari’s hands as he parried it away from goal. Even though it was a 0-0 score at halftime, Real Madrid seemed more likely to open the scoring, while Getafe played a more conservative game after Albiol’s dismissal. The whistles rained down from the Madridistas, but they aimed their anger more at the referees as they headed into their dressing room for halftime.
When Gonzalo Higuaín broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute to give Real Madrid the 1-0 lead, the run of play dictated that Real deserved to be ahead. From the left wing, Marcelo whipped in a cross to Higuaín, who split between two defenders in the air, and after chesting the ball down to create space, it was a simple finish as Ustari had no chance to prevent the inevitable.
Getafe only changed their tactics after Higuaín scored. After the referee sent off Albiol, Getafe continued to tread water rather than go for the lead. When the goal transpired, panic seized through Getafe manager Míchel and his team, and they decided to be more gung ho in attack. This tactic backfired three minutes later, when Lassana Diarra created a turnover in midfield, and there were only two Getafe defenders in their own half. A two versus two battle between Mario and Cata Díaz and Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuaín yielded predictable results. With the defenders on their heels, Benzema slotted a through ball to Higuaín, who took two touches and side-footed his shot across goal and across Oscar Ustari into the back of the net. 2-0 to the home team and assured three points.
Fabio Celestini had a couple of long-distance efforts that forced Iker Casillas into some good saves, but the second goal took the wind out of Getafe’s sails as they played out the final half hour without any significant scoring chances. In eighth place starting Round 9 of La Liga, Getafe looked to continue their good form against a reeling Real Madrid side. In particular, Roberto Soldado, Miguel Torres, Dani Parejo, and Adrián González wanted to prove to their former parent club that they should not have given up on them. All members of the Real Madrid cantera, they disappointed as they failed to appreciably affect and effect the game to their fullest extent. Especially when Real Madrid was handicapped with one less man, they did not have the gusto that was required to defeat any Real Madrid side.
To their credit, Real Madrid arguably had their most impressive performance of the season. It was not necessarily due to stellar football, but it was their resolve and grit to take control of a game when they went a man down and seemingly every call went against them. The 60/40 ratio of possession in Getafe’s favor meant nothing when observing the game; Getafe was ponderous with the ball, while Real were decisive and efficient after the red card. Real Madrid expected to win this game, and even when they went a man down, they were the slightest of favorites to come out with a result, but Getafe never tilted the scales in their favor when they had the chance, and for that, they should be utterly frustrated with themselves.