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Getafe, Granada, Osasuna and Real Valladolid Continue Giving LaLiga's Big Hitters A Bloody Nose

Written by Matt Clark


One of the tales of this season has been the remarkable form of Getafe as José Bordalás’ team has defied expectations once again. But they are not the only club overachieving this season, and a few other sides have gone under the radar and probably deserve even more credit.

One of the tales of this season has been the remarkable form of Getafe as José Bordalás’ team has defied expectations once again. But they are not the only club overachieving this season, and a few other sides have gone under the radar and probably deserve even more credit.


If you’d said to Granada and Osasuna fans at the start of the season that, by March, they’d already have 37 and 31 points respectively, they’d most likely have laughed it off as incredulous. That’s just what’s happened, though.


Last season’s top two in Segunda are hovering around mid-table, well clear of the dogfight to avoid relegation. This achievement is all the more remarkable when looking at the budgets they are working to.



In a ranking of LaLiga clubs by their salary caps, published by the LFP, Osasuna and Granada are 17th and 18th respectively. Another glance at this also shows that Real Valladolid are 19th, but in the real table they are 15th, seven points above the drop zone. With this in mind, we take a look at how these clubs are maximising their resources so effectively?


Defensive strength at home


Home form is one of the main reasons behind their accumulation of points. Crucial to this is defensive solidity. Only Atlético Madrid and Athletic Club (both seven) have conceded fewer goals at home than Granada’s eight.

Similarly, Real Valladolid have only conceded nine, the same number that Real Madrid have conceded at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Home form is always key for promoted sides and for teams striving to stay in the division. Keeping things tight at the back is the vital base from which to build and grind out results.



One of Granada’s best moments of the season was the 2-0 win over Barcelona in September. Heath Chesters (@HeathGCF) told our podcast that this victory was like winning the Champions League for their fans. They kept six clean sheets in the first 10 games and went top of LaLiga after beating Real Betis at the end of October. An incredible achievement, particularly for a team that only made the step up to LaLiga a few months before. In fact, they are the best-performing promoted side since Villarreal in 2013-14. They have also reached the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, knocking out defending champions Valencia in the process.


Coach Diego Martínez, and his attitude, is fundamental to their success. He told Granada Hoy, “We are a humble and modest team… we want to put Granada on the map”. They are certainly doing that this season and could be going global if they make the final and qualify for next season’s Supercopa.


Mental strength


Another impressive statistic is that under the stewardship of Diego Martínez, Granada have never lost a game in which they started winning. Once again, this illustrates the sophistication with which they manage games and can trust their defence to hold firm when they get the upper hand.



Similarly, Osasuna boasted a phenomenal home record at El Sadar, going unbeaten there for 31 matches until November. It is true that they have only won one of the seven games since losing their record, but they accumulated 12 points at El Sadar before that, including a 2-2 draw with Barcelona. This allowed them to pick up early momentum and have a significant cushion over the strugglers.


Another, perhaps less tangible factor, is the belief among the supporters. A good start helps to spread confidence and belief in the stands. It breeds confidence that their team is capable of staying up and competing in the top division, which helps generate a positive atmosphere when playing at home. The value of this should not be underestimated.


Grinding out results on the road through individual talent


These overachievers have also been more than competent on the road. They are all comfortably placed in mid-table on away form only. Real Valladolid have won as many games away from home as they have at Estadio José Zorrilla. They also drew at the Santiago Bernabéu early in the season.


As important as home form is, it cannot be solely relied upon. Sergio González knows this and sets his teams up with the intention of being difficult to break down.


Mohammed Salisu has been one of the best defenders in Spain this season. Martin Devlin (@MartiRVCF) of PucelaEscocia.com told our podcast earlier in the season about his performances, which saw him being linked with top clubs across Europe. “He looks so accomplished at the back, it’s like he has played there for years. He’s good in the air, he’s got great closing down ability, and above all, he seems to possess the mental toughness needed to excel at this level.” Sergio González endorsed this view: “He worked in the shadows last season, this year he’s exploded.” Salisu has been a major contributor to Pucela’s defensive performances at home and on the road.



Similarly, Osasuna seem to be improving on the road lately. They recorded a memorable win at San Mamés in February, becoming only the third side to win there in LaLiga this season. This was actually their only win in their last five matches, which has coincided with the devastating injury to key man Chimy Ávila. La Liga Lowdown’s Alex Brotherton has written at length about the journey Ávila has been on. His 11 goals before his injury propelled Osasuna well towards 30 points and a position of strength in the middle of the table.


While his season is over, there are others who are striving to step up in his absence. One of these players is Roberto Torres, a key protagonist for Jagoba Arrasate’s team. He has contributed to 12 goals this season, with five goals and seven assists. He has also hit the woodwork no fewer than six times, showing his lack of luck but also his presence at the business end of the pitch. Osasuna will need more of his contributions to ensure they don’t get dragged into any potential battle for survival, but they should be fine given their strong start.


Conclusion


Overall, it is clear that Granada, Osasuna, and Real Valladolid are overperforming with respect to their financial resources, and they deserve a lot of credit for maximising their potential. It will be fascinating to see how far this takes them, and if any team can replicate their relative success.


If you'd like to see more up-to-date Spanish football news, match information or just need to get your fix of regular Santi Cazorla pictures - you can find us on Twitter @LaLigaLowdown

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