The Segunda Division regular season concludes this Saturday with all 22 teams in action and plenty still to be decided at both ends of the table following an incredibly tight campaign, where no side has really taken the division by storm. It will be a tense day at the bottom with Ponferradina and recent top flight sides Mallorca and Almeria, who were in La Liga only last term, trying to avoid relegation to the regional Segunda B, where crowds are often measured in hundreds rather than thousands.
At the other end it’s all about trying to get a piece of the increased riches of the Primera Division next season. For three teams next year will be about trips to play Real Madrid and Barcelona as opposed to the likes of Huesca and Lugo, however for plenty more the season will end in disappointment.
Already Up – Deportivo Alavés
One team has already booked their place amongst the elite next season and that is Alaves. The Basques, who of course took part in the 2001 UEFA Cup final and excelled in La Liga at the start of the century have spent 10 years in the lower leagues but secured promotion with a 2-0 win over Numancia last weekend. They have only scored 48 goals in 41 games, which is testament to what has been quite a bizarre Segunda Division season, but despite that Alaves only need a point from their final game away to Gimnastic to clinch the title.
Chasing Automatic Promotion – Leganés & Gimnàstic Tarragona
It’s a straight shootout for the second automatic promotion place. It will belong to Leganes if they can win their game at Mirandes, who conveniently for Leganes are nestled in mid-table with nothing to play for. The Madrid minnows have never played in the top flight before and they were in the Segunda B as recently as 2013/14 however Asier Garitano’s men are favourites to make history on Saturday and would become the 61st different team to take their place in La Liga since its inception in 1929.
They will be keeping a very close eye on events in Catalonia though where 3rd place Gimnastic are taking on leaders Alaves. Nastic have to win their game and hope Leganes slip up at Estadio Municipal de Anduva. The Catalans would also be a surprise promotion given they’ve only spent one season in the top flight since 1950, when they finished bottom of La Liga in the 2006/07 season.
For one of the two clubs there will be a huge promotion party on Saturday evening, while the other will have to pick themselves for an away play-off game on Wednesday.
The Race for the Play-Offs – Real Zaragoza, Cordoba, Girona, Osasuna & Alcorcón
This is where things start to get really very complicated with all sorts of permutations at play. Just three points separate Zaragoza in 4th from Alcorcon in 8th so there are five teams battling it out for the final three play-off places on the final day.
There is a good chance it will come down to head-to-head records, which determine who comes out on top in the event of two or more teams finishing level on points in Spain. It’s unlikely but nonetheless possible that all five sides could end up level on exactly the same number of points, which may take some time to sort out so it could certainly be an evening for the mathematicians.
To try and simplify things the sides currently in 4th and 5th just need a point from their games to guarantee themselves a place in the play-offs which commence next week. 4th place Zaragoza are probably the biggest and certainly best supported club in the division and are hoping to avoid a 4th consecutive season in it having come within 5 minutes of promotion last term only to concede a late goal in the play-off final against Las Palmas. They travel to already relegated minnows Llagostera but given the Catalans curiously have one of the best home records in the league it is by no means a formality that they will get the point they need.
Likewise 5th place Cordoba, who dropped out of the top flight last term after a pretty woeful season, also have matters in their own hands. They have a home game against an Almeria side that are fighting for their lives so that won’t be easy although depending on events elsewhere, it’s quite possible that a situation could arise where a draw would be enough for both sides to achieve their respective aims so don’t rule out a farcical conclusion to the game at Estadio Nuevo Arcángel.
Girona are one point worse off than those two sides in 6th place but in essence are in the same predicament given their head to head record is superior on the sides below them. They travel to Ponferradina, another side who are fighting for their lives so again it’s a potentially tricky game. Like Leganes, Girona have never previously made the top flight but have made the play-offs in 3 of the last 4 seasons so they are relative veterans of tension-filled games at this time of year.
The sides in 7th and 8th will be praying for slip-ups above. Osasuna and Alcorcon are level on points, level on head-to-head and are only separated by 1 goal on goal difference so as an interesting sub-plot will be locked into their own mini-battle on Saturday as it’s highly unlikely that both will be able to forge their way into the play-offs.
Osasuna have a tough game at Real Oviedo, who are only 2 points further back themselves but aren’t in contention for the top six following a poor run of form. Osasuna have lost their last two matches themselves though so it will still be a big ask for them to go to Asturias and win as they have to do, to have any chance of extending their season.
Alcorcon host Elche, another side who fell out of promotion contention late on and certainly home advantage gives the Madrid club a shot at remaining in the hunt for what would also be their debut top flight campaign.
Final Day Fixtures – Saturday 4th June
17:30 kick-offs (local time)
Athletic Club II vs Tenerife
Numancia vs Albacete
Huesca vs Lugo
20:30 kick-offs (local time)
Real Valladolid vs Mallorca
Alcorcón vs Elche
Ponferradina vs Girona
Gimnàstic Tarragona vs Alaves
Real Oviedo vs Osasuna
Llagostera vs Real Zaragoza
Mirandés vs Leganes
Córdoba vs Almería
Semi Final 1st Legs – Wednesday 8th June
6th vs 3rd | 5th vs 4th
Semi Final 2nd Legs – Sunday 12th June
3rd vs 6th | 4th vs 5th
Final 1st Leg – Wednesday 15th June
Final 2nd Leg – Sunday 19th June