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The race for promotion: Villarreal still controls its own destiny

It's starting to get complicated, but it is clear that if Villarreal could string together six straight wins, they would go up--maybe even as champions. On the other hand, as few as 14 points from the remaining six matches could see the Submarine promoted automatically, but only if they beat Girona, draw at Alcorcon, and other things go in their favor. Probably best not to count on that!

Elche (73 pts, +25 GD): 3 home games: Barca B, RM Castilla, Guadalajara

3 away games: Villarreal, Almeria, Sabadell

Alcorcón (65 pts, +7 GD): 3 home games: Villarreal, Almeria, Sabadell

3 away games: Girona, Barcelona B, RM Castilla

Girona (64 pts, +22 GD): 4 home games: Alcorcon, Xerez, Barcelona B, RM Castilla

2 away games: Villarreal, Almeria

Villarreal (62 pts, +21 GD): 4 home games: Elche, Girona, Xerez, Almeria

2 away games: Alcorcon, Barcelona B

Almeria (59 pts, +16 GD): 3 home games: Racing, Elche, Girona

3 away games: Lugo, Alcorcon, Villarreal

Las Palmas (58 pts, +6 GD): 3 home games: Sporting, Recre, Numancia

3 away games: Huesca, Mirandes, Real Murcia

Ponferradina (56 pts, +4 GD): 3 home games: Recre, Numancia, Racing

3 away games: Mirandes, Real Murcia, Lugo

What can we take away from this?

Ravi is right that Elche is not playing well, but they really only need to get six points out of their six remaining fixtures to get across the line, and I think they will do that.

Alcorcon has a theoretically easy home wins left (Sabadell) and two tougher ones, but they do have an advantage (perhaps) in that two of their three away matches are against filial clubs who have little to play for. On the other hand, the filials tend to score a lot, which is not Alcorcon's strength.

Girona have two home matches against teams with nothing to play for (the Barca and Madrid filials) and Xerez is already relegated. Given their excellent home form and their ability to score goals, I expect them to take maximum points from all these games. The Alcorcon-Girona match will be key, as their away matches ought to be a lot harder.

Villarreal need to win all their home matches, including against Girona and Almeria. There is no room for error here, and in addition Villarreal basically need to go to Alcorcon and win--a point is essential, but a win would be even better.

What is interesting is that there is something of a division between these three clubs and the next three, all of who have one more away game to play, and all of whom have important matches against teams fighting against relegation.

I honestly feel Girona has the easiest path because their home matches appear to be the most winnable. And it looks as though (my fear of the Pio Pio notwithstanding) whoever ends up in the first two playoff spots is playing better than the teams likely to end up in the bottom two playoff spots, and should have the advantage. Then again, it's a playoff.

An optimistic view, from a Villarreal perspective, in terms of what we need to do:

Alcorcon take 7 points from their home matches (drawing with Villarreal) but only 4 points from their away matches, putting them on 76.

Girona win all four at home, but lose to Villarreal and Almeria away. 76 points for them, too.

Almeria take 9 points from their home matches, 4 from their away matches, so are on 73.

Villarreal win their home matches, draw with Alcorcon, and draw with Barca B. So they are on 76 points, too. At this point I believe you form a mini-table with the three teams: Villarreal would have 7 points (win vs Girona, win vs Alcorcon, draw v Alcorcon), Girona would have 6 (wins v Villarreal and Alcorcon), Alcorcon would have 4. So, Villarreal would finish second.

Another, equally good scenario would see Girona drawing with Alcorcon this Saturday, which could put them on 74 if they lose both away matches. But if that point were one of Alcorcon's four on the road, and we draw there and end up level on 76 points, we clearly win out with a better head-to-head record.

If Villarreal lose at Alcorcon, it is not necessarily all over--Alcorcon would have 68, the most we could get to would then be 77, and (if we lose by a goal or two, say) we would still own the direct tiebreaker against them. If, say, Alcorcon has already lost to Girona, and defeats one of the filials on the road and loses to the other, they would have 77. And if Girona can't take anything from their away games, they would finish on 76. However, if Villarreal lose to Alcorcon but defeat Girona, and Girona defeated Alcorcon, and the three teams end up on a three-way tie on 77, all three clubs would have six points in the mini-table, and I have no idea what happens then!

However, we do still control our own destiny. Assume that:

Alcorcon take 6 points at home (losing to us), 9 on the road, so have 80 points.

Girona win all four at home, lose to us, beat Almeria. 79.

Villarreal wins out, to end on 80 points. We would own the tiebreak against Alcorcon, so would finish second. Or even first, if we end up in a three-way tie with Elche and Alcorcon. Hey, why not?