Allan Nyom is in the form of his life for Getafe, who play Barcelona on Saturday and sit third in La LigaAllan Nyom is in the form of his life for Getafe, who play Barcelona on Saturday and sit third in La Liga. (AFP Photo/PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU)
Getafe (Spain) (AFP) - Allan Nyom took a yellow card, scored a goal and was substituted before half-time and in those 16 minutes it was possible to understand why Getafe sit third in La Liga.
Nyom celebrated his first goal for the club like it was the first of his life, racing one way and then the other, not quite sure where he was going until suddenly deciding where he had to end up.
He found the Getafe fans in the corner, who celebrated Nyom putting them two up against old rivals, Leganes, whom Nyom had left last summer, and firing them within touching distance of new ones, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, in a remarkable challenge for the top four.
"This year I'm playing like a right winger and I want to score goals," Nyom says, in an interview with AFP. "I even try to do tricks now. That's this team, I'm loving it."
Six minutes before, Nyom had been booked and 10 minutes later, in the 31st minute of the January 17 game at Leganes, he was taken off. On show all at once, Getafe's mean streak, their unity and the ruthlessness of their coach, Jose Bordalas, to put team above all else.
"When people think of Getafe they think of hard work," says Nyom. "We play together, work together, run together, that's the most important thing."
Bordalas took over in September 2016 with Getafe 21st in Segunda. Instead of going down, they went up and then instead of scrapping for survival, they finished eighth.
Last year, Bordalas took them to the brink of Champions League qualification, missing out to Valencia on the last day, and this season they are challenging again.
"There are still a lot of games left but we have a chance," said Nyom. "I think this year it will be even harder because the teams around those positions are strong and getting stronger. But we will try."
On Saturday, they play Barcelona, whose 11 starting players last weekend cost 340 million euros. Getafe's cost 21 million, four of them free and one on loan. Barcelona's salary cap this season is 671 million euros, comfortably 10 times more than Getafe's 56 million.
But Bordalas has instilled belief. Jorge Molina, who scored twice against Valencia last weekend, is 37, older than the club itself.
Nyom, at 31, once of Watford and West Brom, is in the form of his life, dreaming of the Champions League and a starting spot at next year's Africa Cup of Nations, when his country Cameroon will be hosts.
"Bordalas is a great manager, he demands a lot," Nyom said. "That's his style. His big thing is we are a team, a family. He tells us to run, to fight, to never give up and believe me, we run a lot.
"It was the hardest pre-season of my career, run, run, run. But it means we can be 100 per cent all the time. At some clubs there is training and there are matches. Here the two are the same."
There may not be a coach in Europe doing a better job than Bordalas and his success has brought speculation, with Atletico Madrid mentioned as a possible next step.
"Of course he could do it at a bigger club," says Nyom. "It's harder, not easier, with lower teams. With better players he could do even better."
But there are reservations about Getafe's style, an unashamedly direct approach that looks for territory, relies on defence and relishes confrontation.
In La Liga this season, they have completed the fewest passes, collected the most yellow cards and committed the highest number of fouls.
Barcelona have four players in the league's top 10 for passes made while Getafe's highest, Marc Cucurella, is 74th, and he is on loan from Barcelona.
"People can think what they want," Nyom said. "But we have good players too, skilful, technical players. It's just these players can defend so it's the perfect combination for us."
After Barcelona, Getafe play Ajax in the Europa League next week, two opponents united in their veneration of Johan Cruyff and unerring in the belief there is one way the game should be played.
Yet Getafe have their own style and their own conviction too.
"Style is important because it's your identity but there are different styles," Nyom said.
"Barcelona want possession, we want to press. We play direct and they play with the ball. But one style is not better than the other. For us, it's all about the result."