Shot! Brighton v Getafe 2021 pre-season friendly

A shot-shy Albion were beaten by their little known La Liga opponents in a forgettably flat game of few opportunities played in front of few fans

These days, most top football clubs arrange pre-season friendlies against prestigious sides. Obviously, in recent times, Covid has had a big effect: with no fans allowed in stadiums and the difficulties facing teams travelling abroad.

Apart from a run out against decent opposition, these games act as a curtain raiser for the upcoming season: a chance to blood in some new players, try out some new tactics and to introduce the latest kit.

This season, as football begins to return to some degree of normality with fans back in the grounds, there have been an abundance of pre-season friendlies, with most English clubs choosing to stay at home rather than travelling abroad.

This was my third time covering a pre-season friendly at the Amex as Brighton finished preparing for the upcoming 21–22 season. My first, in 2017, saw Brighton host Atletico Madrid, a year later they were supposed to play Sporting Lisbon but the Portuguese team pulled out at the last minute and were replaced by FC Nantes of France.

Fast forward to this year and just a few weeks before the season kicked off, and the first time fans had been allowed in the stadium since the end of February 2020, Brighton announced they would be playing Getafe.

Now it has to be said Getafe are probably the least known of all La Liga teams, indeed I didn’t even know where in Spain they were from, nor could I name a single one of their players.

This was also a rare meeting for them with an English club. In fact it was their first game against an English side for 14 years since they beat Spurs 2–1 in what was then called the UEFA Cup back in 2007.

For those also unfamiliar with Getafe, the club which is located close to Madrid, were only formed as recently as 1983 and last season they finished 15th in La Liga, having reached the top ten in their previous three seasons.

That being said, there was no getting away with the fact that this was hardly a glamour tie, something that no doubt was reflected in the low attendance.

Three years ago, in my review of the Nantes friendly, which drew 11,617, I commented that “in future, to draw a big crowd, a much more prestigious opponent will be needed.”

Reflecting Getafe’s lowly status, a paltry 7,091 fans turned up for the game. Compare that to when Brighton hosted Atletico Madrid. As one of Europe’s biggest clubs, they attracted over 27,000, a record attendance for a pre-season friendly at Brighton.

The late announcement and the lack of promotion combined with the wintry like weather — grey skies and a pre-game deluge — didn’t help. Neither I suspect did the 7pm kick off. Both previous friendlies I attended were afternoon games.

Further evidence of the disappointing attendance was that on the same day, Premier League new boys Brentford attracted over 10,000 fans to their home friendly against another La Liga side, Valencia.

At the Amex, just like it was at the Nantes game, the South Stand was completely empty and there wasn’t an opposing fan to be seen anywhere in the stadium.

With so few in the Amex — which this year celebrates its 10th birthday — it was no surprise that there was next to no atmosphere in the ground.

Neither was the fact that there were few star attractions on the pitch. While Atleti had brought the superstar players like Griezman and Fernando Torres, Getafe are a team devoid of household names.

For their part, a week earlier, Brighton had lost their best player, when Ben White left for Arsenal in a deal that bagged Albion a whopping £50m.

In terms of something new, all Brighton could offer was the debut of new signing Enock Mwepu, brought in from RB Salzburg and the debut of their latest home kit — a somewhat uninspired return to their traditional blue and white vertical stripes. Personally, I thought it looked odd from the back as the plain blue panel where the name and number was displayed, made the players appear as if they were still wearing training bibs.

Despite their own nickname of Azurlones (the deep blue ones) against the Seagulls, Getafe sported an all-red kit.

The game itself was similar to the one against Nantes and what I said back then, could equally apply now. “All n all, it wasn’t a memorable game. Indeed, there really wasn’t much to say about it.”

This time, Getafe took the lead in the 22nd minute with an Erick Cabaco flick header from a set piece.

After the break, the Spaniards doubled their lead with a David Timor free-kick from the edge of the box in the 72nd minute.

As they’d only netted 40 times in the whole of last season, it wasn’t surprising that Brighton didn’t offer much in the attacking third — the closest they came was a shot from Leandro Trossard that was well saved by David Soria and another from Adam Webster which hit the bar.

Apart from their team being goal shy, Brighton fans should be worried that their stand-out player on the night, Yves Bissouma, who bossed the midfield, could be the next out of the Amex.

In these Covid times, things were a little different compared with my two previous visits to the Amex. First, you had to show your Covid pass (proving you’d been double jabbed) The media centre was not open and a digital programme replaced the usual printed version.

During his post-match Zoom call, Brighton’s freshly bearded head coach, Graham Potter said “It was a good tough game against a team who are really well-organised. It was what you want from the last match of pre-season. In the end, the result is what it is.”

Having finished 16th last season, Brighton surely need to set higher targets than that. Right now, their number one goal must be to bring in a decent striker, or two.

Big thanks to Bruce Talbot, Brighton’s Media Assistant, for arranging my accreditation this year.

Behind the shot: All these images were taken handheld with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 using the M Zuiko 1.8 75mm lens from my seat in the press box Whilst this is located close to where the team benches are, it was quite a challenge to get shots of either manager as most of the time they had their backs to me. As I know from previous attempts, shooting the game itself is far from easy. Not only do you need to pre-empt the action, but you also need to get lucky with the composition so you don’t have parts of players’ bodies in the shot who aren’t involved in the action and detract from the action. Perhaps the hardest thing is keeping your chosen subject in sharp focus. Despite this, I’m pretty happy with the shots I came away with, particularly those of Brighton manager Graham Potter and their midfielder Yves Bissouma. Shot at the Amex Stadium on 7 August 2021.

About the author: Based in Sussex-by-the-Sea, on England’s south coast, Gary is a creative writer and image-maker. He specialises in out of the ordinary portraits of musicians and people with interesting faces, as well as photographing some of the world’s finest flowers and gardens. With no concerts or major events taking place during lockdown, Gary turned his attention to creatively capturing the landscapes of West Sussex. On the writing side, he has also penned deep dives into some of his favourite songs beginning with Bryan Ferry’s ‘These Foolish Things’ ‘Ghost Town’ by The Specials and ‘All The Young Dudes’ by Mott the Hoople. Most recently he has written a biography of Robert Palmer. All these can be found here on Medium, along with his reviews of gigs and events and interviews with musicians.

Creator of images that are out of the ordinary, reviewer of live music and live events and interviewer of interesting people