Even though we were able to leave the Segunda behind, I confess spending a year watching matches from such places as Soria, Lugo and Miranda del Ebro have given me more interest in the Segunda than I had previously. So, here is a brief look at how things have shaken out to date.
You may remember Recreativo Huelva defeated us twice last year, and though the Decano finished solidly in the middle of the table, they seemed to be a club on the up. Ex-Elche man Miguel Linares has slotted in with Jonathan Valle to make a good strike pair. Ex-Villarreal and Villarreal B attacker Joselu has come off the bench a few times, but no goals. Recre have 19 points from 8 matches (by comparison, Elche had 22 and Villarreal 17 from their first eight last year).
Below them, Sporting Gijon is on 15 points, with eight teams within three points of them. Sporting are being carried right now by Serbian international Stefan Scepovic, on loan from FC Partizan Beograd; he's scored eight goals in eight matches! He was with Club Brugge at the time we played them in the Europa League (2010/11), though I don't think he played against us.
Ponferradina, who nearly sneaked into the playoffs last time, are off to a good start again, and ex-Villarreal B player Fofo has been at the heart of it, with six goals in six matches. He's been with Ponfe for awhile now, and it's good to see him doing well. Yuri, who has scored 20+ goals for them the past two seasons, has only two so far, so expect him to break out soon.
Also on 14 points with Ponfe are Cordoba and Mirandés, amazing really since neither has been able to score much. Mirandes has parlayed six goals in eight matches into four wins and two draws, which is amazing really. Cordoba do have Mexican youth international Ulises Davila and ex-Newcastle bust Xisco Jimenez (Can you believe they paid €5.7m for him back in 2008, for a grand total of 345 minutes spread over 5 seasons?) but somehow I expect they will end up disappointing in the end, as they have the last couple of years. After all the travails of the offseason Mirandés are probably happy just to be in the Segunda; ex Villarreal-B man Iriome has been seeing action in their midfield and doing well.
The final team on 14 points is Real Murcia, which has all sorts of Villarreal connections, managed as it is by our former manager Velázquez. Their matches have been interesting--15 goals scored (6 by Kike Garcia) and 12 allowed. Amazingly enough given last year's record, they haven't had a player sent off yet! Truyols and Toribio have played some but not regularly, by the way.
At the other end of the table, both filials have started poorly. RM Castilla did pick up their first win of the season last week against Lugo, but with Jese with the first team now, goals are proving difficult to come by. It's always hard for the B teams to do well because they don't have the older players with experience who can help grind out results, and it's even worse if you can't score!
Barcelona B are in something of the same boat, although they did go out and grab Dani Nieto from Alcorcón and Edu Bedia from Hércules to bring some experience to the midfield. If one of their teenage strikers breaks out and has a good season, they'll probably be okay, but coach Eusebio Sacristan has done poor jobs with more talent the last couple of years; with no Jonathan Soriano or Gerard Duloufeu star quality in this team, getting to the magical 50 points that should ensure Segunda survival will not be as easy as usual.
Also struggling: newly promoted clubs Tenerife, Rael Jaén, Eibar, and Alavés; and Herculés.
Gerard Moreno watch: Our loanee has scored four goals in eight matches, though none in the last three. Mallorca has gotten out of the relegation zone, though their defense remains simply awful. They've already allowed four goals three times in the league (and once in the cup) and three goals another time. Unless Oltra can get that figured out, they are going nowhere. Last week at home in the Iberostar they were 3-0 down to Zaragoza after 43 minutes; the visitors had a man sent off but the islanders still lost 4-2.