There is just something about reaching the ‘Jornada 40′ mark that gives the Segunda an ‘every ball matters’ type of feel. For some teams the whole ‘final’ mentality has been in the making but with just two weeks remaining in the season, there is zero room for error at both ends of the table.
Let’s start at the top. Elche have already booked their Primera place but the second automatic promotion spot is very much up for grabs. By virtue of a tiebreaker, Villarreal own second spot on 71 points while Almeria are third with the same number. Girona sit fourth at 70 points. Villarreal very nearly let an easy three points slip from their grasp as they went a man down against last place Xerez while leading 1-0. The azulino equalized only to see a vibrant Madrigal carry the submarino to two late goals before fending off a late Xerez challenge. 3-2 the final. Bad news for Villarreal is that their Mexican winger Javi Aquino’s season is over as he’ll join El Tri in Houston for their Friday friendly against Nigeria. Yours truly hopes to speak with him there.
Any aura of invincibility that Alcorcon held at the Santo Domingo looks to have fallen by the wayside as Almeria marched into that ground and waltzed out with an 0-3 win. That makes it two consecutive homes losses to direct promotions rivals for Alcorcon. Two weeks ago they were downed 1-3 by Villarreal. Charles with a brace that sandwiched a Soriano goal.
Girona kept pace as well with a clutch 1-0 win at home against Barcelona B. Acuna getting the winner in the 27th minute in front of a full (!) Montilivi which was awesome to see. It was a badly needed win for Girona who had dropped their previous two, including that ‘maletinish’ home loss to Xerez.
So here’s the situation. Villarreal next play at Barca B where 7,000 Villarreal fans are expected to make the trip. Amazing! Of course the Baby Blaugrana are pretty much the last team you wanna face at the end of the season when you have tons to play for while they can go about their loose carefree footballing ways, but that’s how it is. Almeria host Girona in a massive clash down in Andalucia. The loser of that can kiss an automatic promotion goodbye while a draw keeps things in the gray depending on what Villarreal does. As for final matchdays, the feeling is that it could come down to that monumental Villarreal-Almeria contest to close the season. Girona closes hosting Real Madrid Castilla. Needless to say, major drama ahead.
Alcorcon’s poor recent form have dropped them from the automatic promotion race so they will hope the playoffs can be their path to the Primera. Who will be joining them? Good question. For the longest while it looked like it would be Las Palmas but a Pio Pio loss at Mirandes gave Ponferradina the chance to leapfrog the islanders which they did. Murillo committed a penalty early in the match and Muneta converted the 10th minute PK to give Mirandes the vital points. As for Ponfe, that man Yuri again saved the day with a late goal in the 84th at Murcia. Ponfe added a second for good measure in the 86th to bring them to 64 points. As for the run-in, Alcorcon should be ok to make the playoffs at 66 points as they play at Castilla (allowing their fans to make the quick trip over to the Di Stefano) before hosting Sabadell in the finale. Ponfe host Racing this weekend with the Cantabrians still barely alive in the relegation battle and then close at Lugo who are tough at home but will have nothing to play for. As for Las Palmas, it’s home versus mid-table Numancia and then at a likely to be relegated Murcia. Tough call here. I think you can pencil Alcorcon into one of those playoff spots but the final one is a toss-up. Just have a feeling both Las Palmas and Ponfe drop points. The question is how many…. This thing could come down to a tiebreaker….
At the bottom Huesca, Murcia are at 41 points and Racing sit on 42 but are all still in the drop. Mirandes did themselves a huge favor winning at home against Las Palmas and sit at 46 points. Making up four or five points in two games, especially for teams at the bottom who in the case of Racing and Murcia, will be playing teams with something to play for make it a virtual impossibility of survival. Mirandes are at Cordoba and then close at home versus Sporting. As for tiebreaker scenarios at the bottom, let’s wait until next week to see if that will be necessary to consider!
As for the upcoming ‘kick and giggle’ games, it’ll be Sabadell-Elche, Sporting-Recreativo and Guadalajara-Lugo. All other eight matches will have something at stake.