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Segunda Focus: Levante surging early

The first third of the Segunda season is done—only one team has really separated itself from the pack so far

Levante UD v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

One advantage, if you could call it that, of Villarreal’s campaign in the Segunda in 2012-13 was it enabled a lot of us (well, me anyway) to find out how long a slog the Segunda season is and how hard it can be to get out of the division.

42 matches, nearly all on weekends, plus two-legged’s possible for a team to play 46 times and yet end up....exactly where you started. The quality of pitches varies, the quality of teams varies, the financial wherewithal of teams varies too, and there tend to be a lot of low-scoring, hotly contested matches.

So far, the only club that looks as if it does not want to hang around very long in the second division is Levante. Valencia’s oldest team, the granotas (frogs) are eight points ahead of the field, ten if you discount that the club currently in second place, Sevilla B, can’t get promoted. Levante are tied for the lead in goals scored (22, so averaging 1.5 per game) and have conceded only 10 (tied for the fewest there, too) so their goal difference is a whopping +12; the next best is +6.

There’s a pretty good Villarreal connection here: Toño in defense, Javier Espinosa and Natxo Insa in midfield (plus Jason, who Levante loaned to the B team for a bit).

Sevilla’s B team is in second place; if we ignore them, the other 20 clubs are separated by all of eight points. That’s typical; if a club goes on a winning streak (two or three matches in a row) they rocket up the table, losing two or three drags you from the promotion playoffs to the relegation zone. Here are a few clubs worth watching:

Rayo Vallecano must have the most experienced (i.e. oldest) team in the Segunda. Razvan Rat (35), Roberto Trashorras (34), Javi Guerra (35), Piti (35), Chechu Dorado (34), Manucho (33), and goalkeeper Toño (36). But so far, the results have been disastrous. Could be all of these guys are getting a step slower at the same time? Coach Sandoval won’t be around to find out, he was fired and replaced by Rubén Baraja a week ago. Currently on 15 points and three losses on the trot.

Mirandés is a poster child for the hot-to-cold streakiness that characterises the Segunda. After 9 matches? Undefeated. Next 5? Five shutout losses. Also on 15 points.

Lugo have a win and a draw after three straight losses, are on 21 points. Alfonso Pedraza has been great on loan, and ex-Villarreal man Joselu is second in the league with 9 goals. And Mallorca seem to be getting untracked; their ownership group includes NBA great Steve Nash. They pickedup their first away win of the season at Cordoba last week and haven’t lost in their last four. Their Villarreal connection is left back Joan Oriol, who played for us from 2008 to 2013.