After our mid-week debacle at the Bernabéu, I wasn’t sure how to feel. On the one hand, we pretty clearly outplayed the merengues (especially in the first half), but on the other, we finished said first half of better play down 2–0 thanks to very efficient finishing from the home side and Sevilla finishing like…is there a word that’s more the opposite of efficient than “wasteful”? Because holy shit it was bad. I decided to let cold hard numbers settle how I felt about the result, so I consulted the LFP rulebook, and I’ve got some bad news: it turns out you don’t get any points for a moral victory on the table. Furthermore, it turns out that Atleti either can’t or won’t (probably won’t, knowing those greedy jerks) gift us a point or two from today’s victory as a thank you for getting James, Marcelino, and Ramos off their hands. So it was pretty well settled that I was sad about losing to Real Madrid. Downright despondent, in fact. But then I remembered the Small Games Success Theorem (SGST).
Formulated on this very site several years ago and advanced (however unproven) many times by authors and commentors alike in the seasons since, the SGST is simple: Sevilla doesn’t need to beat the top teams to land in the Champions League. If Sevilla can simply win the games they ought to win against the bottom half or so of the table, and add on some solid home wins against the rest of the middle third of teams, they’ll have the points they need to get to the promised land. This is, of course, not rocket science (in fact it’s not science at all!); it’s a simple observation that there are a lot of points sitting at the bottom of the table, and a team of Sevilla’s stature really ought to be able to bring home a strong majority of those points. Simple. Brilliant. The Small Games Success Theorem.
As noted, though, this theorem has largely been untested, and thus unproven. In past seasons Sevilla has blended some thrilling victories against really great teams with a healthy portion of agonizing defeats to pretty poor teams. This season, though, has been quite different. The team has pretty much been doing exactly what the SGST prescribes: workman-like wins against the little(r) guys, a few decent results against respectable, stronger opponents, and pretty much nothing against the top 4 or so other teams in the league. And it’s working. We’re in fourth. Emery reads the blog and believes in our theories and philsophy. QED.
If you think I got a little ahead of myself with my argument there, I invite you to read this report from the pre-match presser, in which Emery declares, “[the Getafe game] is the most important game of the year”. Sure, he could probably say that every week and it wouldn’t technically be untrue from a certain perspective. But it’s especially true this week! Coming off a tough mid-week loss, with two teams 1 point behind us (one having played today, one playing tomorrow), three points from this visit to 15th place Getafe are mandatory. We must win them, and we can.
It won’t be easy, though. Sure, Getafe has lost nearly half of their home games this year (with a –6 goal differential from those games). But we just played a tough game that was lung-busting and heart-wrenching in damn near equal measure. And of course there’s the small matter of the eight (!) players we’ll be missing tomorrow. Five injuries (nobody you’d miss, just bit players like Reyes, Gameiro, and Beto for example) and three piles of yellow cards (Vitolo, Vidal, Carrico) mean this won’t be an easy three points. Oh and Getafe sitting in 15th place sounds good until you realize they’re just two points from a relegation spot. I suppose they might be motivated themselves.
So Emery, if you’re reading this (and I know you are), we need those three points. Let’s go get those three points. The rest of you, let’s meet here tomorrow and cheer/type our team to victory in the comments section.