Like the swallows of Capistrano, each year the Segunda performs an annual ritual. Seven teams out, seven teams in. The three that packed their bags for a much more pleasant journey as opposed to, say, the Gary, Indiana of Spanish futbol, also known as the Segunda B, are Elche, Villarreal and Almeria. So let’s learn a bit more about those three, shall we?
First and foremost let’s start with Villarreal who is the known quantity here. The blip that was the 2011-12 season is now a distant memory and the 2005-06 Champions League semifinalists are rightfully back home in the Primera. A Segunda season that appeared destined for disaster was turned around by the hiring of Marcelino and the sale of Giuseppe Rossi which allowed the Submarino to spend money on some winter signings. It worked and now Villarreal have made some other savvy summer moves, including signing Mexican star Gio Dos Santos who should be excellent this season playing alongside fellow El Tri member Javi Aquino. Speedy left back Jokic has been signed from Serie A side Chievo while Aleksander Pantic joins from red Star Belgrade also to shore up the team’s defense. Uche and Jonny Pereira are also back and boast plenty of Primera experience. Young pup Manu Trigueros in midfield is one to watch. They likely won’t battle for Europe but Villarreal should avoid any final-day relegation worries.
For the first time since 1988-89, Elche are back in the Primera after a simply outstanding Segunda campaign. All credit to Fran Escriba who lifted the Ilicitanos to promotion in his first year in charge. It’ll be a little odd, though, to see players who have been a big part of this squad in recent years no longer part of things. Xumetra, Linares, Palanca and Angel are no longer in tow. Elche have gone about ‘Sevillalizing’ themselves as three Sevilla players — Del Moral, Stevanovic and Botia — join, the former two on-loan. Good to see veteran player Edu Albacar finally get a shot at playing in the Primera. Corominas was quite the revelation last season after joining from Girona and had another massive season. Can he repeat the feat in the Primera? Mmmmm….. Valencia youngster Carles Gil will extend his on-loan stay another season. Lots of talent there. Escriba’s first year ever as a head coach was last season and that went well. Can he keep Elche up in 2013-14? It’ll be difficult… Doable, but very difficult.
Almeria are back in the Primera after a few seasons away and with wholesale changes since their playoff final promotion win over Girona. They’ve made some nice looking summer signings including the underrated Oscar Diaz who did well last season at Lugo, Suso from Liverpool on-loan, Tebar from Girona and Ustari from Boca Juniors. Gone is Brazilian striker Charles, Carlos Calvo and Falque. If they can sign Valencia’s Pablo Piatti, as has been rumored, that would be a nice pick up. Forward Aleix Vidal continues to improve and he should be better in 13-14. Big thing is the managerial situation. The club couldn’t agree on a deal with Javi Gracia so in steps Almeria B manager Francisco who finds himself suddenly a Primera manager. Don’t be surprised to see Almeria start off very slowly. Like Elche, they’ll battle relegation all season long.