The make-up of the 2019/20 Spanish top flight is now a little clearer with just one place still up for grabs. Osasuna were promoted back on May 20th courtesy of a Granada win at Albacete which was also hugely significant in the race for the second automatic promotion spot. The result proved the springboard for the Andalusians to go on and finish the job, which they duly did on Tuesday night with a draw at Mallorca enough to clinch their return to the Primera División as Albacete sank to another home defeat, this time against Malaga.
Stunning Home Form sees Osasuna to the Title
— angela_andueza (@angela_andueza) May 31, 2019
The class act in the Segunda Division this season has certainly been Osasuna. Since winning promotion, the Pamplona outfit have also clinched the title and in a league where there often isn’t much to choose between the teams, their record really is a standout one.
Despite three defeats in their opening five matches, they’ve ultimately romped to the title with just four losses in 36 matches since then. Critically they have made El Sadar an absolute fortress. Since a 0-0 draw with Numancia back in late September, they have reeled off an extraordinary fifteen straight home victories in the league, conceding just five goals in the process.
Replicating that in the top flight will of course be a totally different proposition but few sides will be relishing the prospect of a trip there next season. While their top scorer Juan Villar has just twelve goals, the likes of Roberto Torres and Ruben Garcia have chipped in with decent contributions and Osasuna will take their place amongst the elite next term under the stewardship of former Real Sociedad boss Jagoba Arrasate.
Granada clinch Promotion
— AS English (@English_AS) June 4, 2019
Also back in the big time after two seasons in the Segunda Division are Granada. They bowed out of the top flight with just 20 points in 2016/17 with Tony Adams ultimately taking charge of an already sinking ship.
They are still under Chinese ownership but feel like a much more stable club today. The mastermind of their success this season has been Diego Martínez, who incidentally was sacked by Osasuna last summer but has gone on to do a fine job in Andalusia. His men had to wait a while longer but were ultimately promoted with a game to spare on Tuesday night. A late goal from Fede rescued a point from their trip to Mallorca but it was all academic in the end as closest rivals Albacete lost at home to guarantee Granada 2nd place in the final standings when the regular season finishes this weekend.
While Osasuna go up with the division’s best goalscoring record, Granada do so with the best defensive record and it’ll be interesting to watch Martínez pit his wits against the top coaches in La Liga next term. His story is an interesting one in that despite being only 38, he is already fifteen years into his coaching career having started out in the youth ranks at Andalusian minnows Arenas de Armilla following a premature end to his playing career.
Who will be joining them? – The Play-Off Picture
— Málaga CF English (@MalagaCF_en) June 4, 2019
La Liga’s current match-fixing scandal does at least raise the possibility that one of the current top flight sides, most likely Real Valladolid, could yet be demoted. There are serious allegations and there is seemingly also plenty of evidence to suggest Valladolid’s end of season clash with Valencia was fixed. However that may be a matter that takes months if not years to get to the bottom of so we have to assume for now that we know nineteen of the 20 teams that will be taking part in the Primera División next season.
We also know three of the four teams who will be in the play-offs which will decide the final promotion place. Those sides are Albacete, Mallorca and Malaga with the latter aiming to bounce back to the top flight at the first attempt. The other two have been away for a longer period with Albacete’s last jaunt in the Primera coming back in 2004/05 while Mallorca’s was in the 2012/13 campaign. Both sides have actually dropped down to the third tier in the intervening years but are now potentially only a few weeks away from a return to the top flight.
Deportivo La Coruña, another of last season’s relegated teams are in pole position to grab the final play-off place. They only need to beat already relegated Cordoba on the final day to guarantee themselves at least 6th place. However should they slip up, Cadiz and Real Oviedo could potentially sneak in although Oviedo will need to end Osasuna’s incredible home winning streak to stand a chance. They’d also have to hope for a favour from bitter rivals Sporting who take on Cadiz. The Andalusians in truth look to have blown their promotion hopes with a six game winless streak at the most critical point in the season.
Article via Mark Sochon – Contact: marksochon(at)hotmail.co.uk | @marksoc1 on Twitter