The 2013-14 edition of the Segunda División continues to be incredibly tight, and compared to the 2012-13 season, goals--and victories--have been at a premium. Last year five clubs scored more than 1.5 goals per match; this year, only Sporting Gijon is close (55 from 37 matches).
Deportivo La Coruña are really the only club that can feel pretty confident right now; they're on 64 points, 7 ahead of the top of the playoff zone with 5 matches to go. Apart from hosting second-placed Eibar in two weeks time, they have matches against clubs in the bottom half of the table, but who knows how much that means in this topsy-turvy division?
SD Eibar is trying to earn back-to-back promotions, and they've never been in the Primera Division. They have the stingiest defense (26 goals allowed) in the division, and the best goal difference, +19. They do have some matches against teams near the top--Depor, Lugo--but they only have one of their five remaining matches outside the north of Spain.
Since Barcelona B can't win promotion, the next club to consider is Las Palmas. Every year I pick these guys to get promoted, and every year they come close, but....could this year be the year? They have a big match with sixth-placed Tenerife coming up--if Las Palmas can win that, and also win their match against seventh-placed Recreativo later in May, they might be able to guarantee a playoff spot, and perhaps even catch Eibar.
A club with even more of a Villarreal connection is Real Murcia, managed by Julio Velazquez, currently lying fifth. I think everyone's opinion last year was he is a good young coach but was just not ready for the pressure of getting an established Primera team back up; Murcia were nearly relegated last term so full credit to him for getting them in the promotion hunt. Ex-yellow canteranos Joan Truyols and Dani Toribio play for them, and Kike Garcia has chipped in 18 goals, and seems to be in form right now. They haven't lost in over a month, and their remaining schedule isn't too bad--it features matches with both the B-teams in the league, but otherwise it's Mirandes, Zaragoza, and Tenerife. Not terribly frightening.
Tenerife's problem might be too much reliance on one player--young Ayoze Perez has 16 goals for them, but they've been shut out in their last two matches against relegation-threatened outfits, and they have a pretty tough schedule left. Like Eibar, they're trying for a second successive promotion.
Recreativo Huelva are staying around the edges of the playoffs, and would currently claim the last spot. I like the look of their roster--Miguel Linares, their leading scorer this year, was part of Elche's promotion side last season--and it would be nice to see two ex-Villarreal cantera players (Toño and Joselu) win through. That Las Palmas match, and the Cordoba one following, will be big ones.
Sporting Gijon is currently level on points with Recre, but have been slipping back of late, with only two wins since mid-February. And with one of their defenders picking up his fifteenth yellow of the season, and another a red card last week, it's time for this team--which on paper probably has the best roster in the Segunda--to respond to adversity and reel off several wins in a row. The opponents remaining are not bad, I just wonder if they haven't left it rather late.
Cordoba is the team who are suddenly putting it together, with four wins and two draws in their last six matches. Mexican striker Ulises Davila and Xisco Jemenez have been providing the goals, and ex-Madrid, ex-Olympiakos man Raul Bravo anchors the defense.
Are there any of these clubs you'd particularly like to see get promoted? Or players you'd love for Villarreal to sign from these squads? Comment below!