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It’s Villarreal (B) vs Elche!

For ‘all the marbles’—promotion to the Segunda.

Villarreal-Elche, May 2013. Javier Aquino on the ball for Villarreal

Somehow, you just knew it would happen, didn’t you? After 38 regular-season matches and four hard-fought playoff duels, Villarreal B’s promotion challenge comes down to a home-and-home matchup with Elche CF.

It wasn’t that long ago—May 5, 2013 to be exact—that Villarreal’s first team played a cracking tie against Elche in El Madrigal, losing 3-2. That would be our last loss of the season; Elche went up as champions, Villarreal in second place.

Fran Escribá coached that Elche side and kept them in the Primera for two years, they were relegated for unpaid debts and financial mismanagement (the first Primera side THAT’s happened to) after the 2014-15 season. They fell back to the Segunda B this season for the first time since the 1990’s; historically, they have been a Primera or Segunda side (52 of the last 60 seasons in the top two divisions). The first leg will be there, the second in Vila-real.

In the other final, Cartagena face Extremadura. You’d think Cartagena would have the advantage here, as Extremadura are the only side left who finished fourth in their Segunda B group. One reason why Villarreal might want to hope this tie goes according to form:

Cartagena went out to Rayo Majadahonda in the champions’ match. However, there seems to be some question as to the adequacy of their ground for the Segunda A—it’s actually part of Atletico Madrid’s training facilities and is used by their women’s and reserve sides. The initial inspection by league officials evidently identified some major deficiencies. If for some reason the league says they aren’t up to snuff, then who gets promoted instead? Presumably the team with the highest regular season finish? That would be Cartagena if they go out to Extramadura, Villarreal B if they go out to Elche. Just something to keep in mind.

To recap today’s action, Villarreal B were the better side against Fuenlebrada, and a goal by Samu in the 19th minute from outside the box—an arrowed golazo—and a goal with 20 minutes left from Dani Raba provided the margin of voctory—Ander Cantero making a nice save late to preserve the shutout and calm nerves.

Elche left it late, tied 2-2 on aggregate with Sporting Gijon B and losing on away goals until Nino and Sory Kaba each scored en route to a 2-1 win on the day and 4-2 total victory. As it turned out, Sporting Gijon were eliminated from the Segunda playoffs by Valladolid, so Elche would have moved on anyway. (EDIT: actually, no, Villarreal B would have gone up if Sporting B had won; see the explanation in the comments. Damn you, Sporting B!!)

Extremadura had defeated Mirandés yesterday so waited around to find out who they’d play; Cartagena rode an early goal to a 1-0 aggregate win over Celta B.

Should Villarreal not go through, the 2018-19 campaign would be the first year since 2002-03 that no B teams would be in the Segunda. Let’s not let that happen. Endavant Villarreal!!