We're now three-quarters of the way through the seemingly endless slog that is the Liga Adelante regular season. Spain's 22-team second division is often tight, and this season is no exception. There are 14 clubs--nearly two-thirds of the total--either in the promotion places or within five points of them, and from first place to sixth, the difference is only seven points. No one has been able to break free of the mob chasing them.
The current leaders are CD Leganés, on 54 points, but they haven't won in their last three matches. This club has never played in the Primera, so this would be quite an accomplishment. (Leganés is a suburb of Madrid, not too far from Getafe). They have a couple of players on loan from Bilbao, another (Brazilian player Gabriel) from Juventus, and a couple of ex-Valladolid players, Lluis Sastre and Omar Ramos, provide some midfield experience. They have the stingiest defense in the league (23 goals given up).
Deportivo Alavés are on 53. The Basques are managed by Pepe Bordalás, and have Gaizka Toquero as a striker, ex-Elche man Sergio Pelegrin in defense, and Kiko Femenia and Dani Pacheco among their midfielders. They've only had eight Primera seasons in 75 years (their longest stay being the 1998-2003 period); they were threatening to run away from the pack a month or two ago, but their win against Cordoba on Sunday was their first in seven matches.
Gimnastic Tarragona (Nastic) is on 51 points, and has some momentum, with five wins and six draws in their last eleven. They have the Emaná brothers from Cameroun--Achille and Stéphane--and also ex-Huelva (and Villarreal B loanee) JoséNaranjo, who has nine goals so far. A Reina--Ex-Levante keeper Manolo Reina--in goal, too. Manager Vicente Moreno got them promoted from the Segunda B last season, and if he can get them to La Liga it would be only their second season there since 1950.
Real Oviedo are on 49 points. Beloved of Sid Lowe and many Spanish football writers and supporters, many of whom chipped in to keep the club afloat a couple of years back, the Asturians haven't been in the top flight since 2001, but before that were regular La Liga members--38 seasons in all. They were undefeated between late November and late February, but three consecutive losses after that hurt them, though they bounced back last weekend. Ex-Sevilla, Celta, Almeria and Atleti keeper Esteban, now aged 40, has returned to Oviedo and has been preferred between the sticks, and Villarreal native (and way ex-Villarreal player) Hector Font plays for them some too. Ex-Depor man Toche leads them with 14 goals.
Their coaching situation is a bit fluid--Sergio Egea resigned two weeks ago for "personal reasons", and the reins are currently held by David Generelo, who you may remember from our battles with Elche in 2012-13. Generelo only retired as a player in December 2015 due to injuries, now he's an interim manager trying to win a promotion to La Liga!
Relegation: Athletic Bilbao's B team looks done for, with only 24 points; Llagostera and Albacete (28 and 29), are in trouble, and Almeria are on 32, Huesca 33, Ponferradina and Mallorca 35. No obvious "hot" or "cold" team here, though Almeria have four draws and two wins in their last six.
Stay tuned for more fin and excitement, Segunda style!