Villarreal B-Recre preview (and Segunda update)

The B team bids farewell to the Mini Estadi with a match against the oldest team in Spain.


The mini-Submarine hosts Recreativo Huelva in a match at the Mini Estadi on Saturday. Villareal B could go up to 10th place with a win and will want to impress as they play out the string, while Recre is 12 points ahead of the last relegation spot with 12 points remaining in the season. IF Alcoyano or Cartagena win their remaining four matches, and Recre lose all theirs, they would be relegated (they lose the tiebreak to either of those two teams) but that's a longshot, I would say! So realistically while a point would be nice, they have to feel fairly safe.

Our opponents: It's been a fairly dull season for the boys from Huelva on the pitch; they've bounced around mid-table pretty much all season, and have only one win in their last six matches, at Huesca. Still, they're 13th in the table, just below the Mini Submarine. Off the pitch, it's been a different matter--the team is under different ownership and a different coach than in September.

They will be missing one of their starting defenders, Corcoles, who is suspended; other than that they seem to be at full strength.

Recre are of course the oldest team in Spain, "the Dean" of Spanish clubs, having been founded in 1889 by a couple of Scots as a way to provide recreation for employees of the Rio Tinto mines (the Tinto being the river that runs through Andalusia and has its mouth at Huelva). Rio TInto is now one of the largest mining companies in the world, although it no longer owns the Huelva mines. (The river, meanwhile, is of interest to scientists attempting to understand acid conditions on other planets--needless to say, it's not exactly safe to swim in).

The august New York Times featured a story on the Huelva mines recently: they are currently closed but there is a company wanting to reopen them. Somehow, they failed to mention the football team and its antecedents though. Shocking.

Incidentally, Huelva's website shows their travel plans....gives you a clue as to life in the Segunda. They leave at 7am on the bus for the train station, take a train from Huelva to Madrid (about what, 5 hours?), then the AVE (rapid train) from Madrid to Valencia, then a bus to Castellon, arriving at 5pm for a game at noon the next day. Fun indeed.

Villarreal B: Coming off a great game against Huesca, can they keep it up? I would expect to see a similar lineup against Huelva, with Jaume Costa and probably Florian Lejeune as well effectively finished for the year--they will be with the first team next season.

Incidentally, Sr. Roig announced today the final home game of the season (against promoted Depor) will be played in El Madrigal, so this is the B team's farewell to the Mini Estadi for the season.

When these two clubs played in January down in Huelva, Velásquez had only recently assumed the reins, and injuries and suspensions meant he had very few defenders to play with. Our back four was I believe Jordi Pablo, Truyols, Marcos Gullón, and Jaume Costa! Gullón scored our only goal but we were 2-1 down at halftime, Marcos was sent off on 55 minutes for his second yellow, and Juan Villar made it 3-1 for Recre late on.

Last time there was no TV and we had to rely on a Huelva radio stream, it will probably be the same this time since there are six other matches at the same time. Certainly Radio Nou will be mostly taken up with Elche and Hércules, though Toni Alegre will probably be giving updates from the Mini Estadi. My advice is to check there (http://www.radionou.com/contenidos.asp?tipo=2&categoria=21, click on 'portada' and choose Radio Nou Castellón) and the Huelva radio website is http://www.antenahuelva.com. Good luck!

Prediction: Villarreal B 2-1 Recre. Keep the good feelings going!

Now, the situation in the Segunda in brief:

relegation: Gimnastic Tarragona is done for; Cartagena and Alcoyano probably are as well, being five points behind Girona with four matches left. Guadalajara is only one point ahead of Girona. Cartagena have to win at Huesca this weekend to have any chance, I'd think, and Alcoyano is awful.

promotion: there are three teams head-and-shoulders above the rest this year: Depor, Celta, and Real Valladolid. Depor is far enough ahead that they're likely to win the championship. As for Celta and Valladolid, they're even on points but Celta owns the tiebreak. Celta have three home games remaining (Alcoyano, Xerez, Cordoba) with their only away fixture at bottom club Nastic. Valladolid have three home games as well, against Sabadell, Recre and Guadalajara, but their away fixture is a toughie, against the hottest team in the Segunda right now, Alcorcon.

On paper it looks like Valladolid will end up in the playoffs, together with Alcorcon, Hercules and Cordoba, in some order. Elche and Almeria, who were in the playoff positions earlier this season, have faded away.

Valladolid should win through based on what we've seen, but Alcorcon seems to be peaking around the right time, and any playoffs are always nerveracking and frequently the top-placed team doesn't win through!

ENDAVANT VILLARREAL B!

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