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LaLigaWeekly On May - 20 - 2011

Segunda Focus: Rayo On The Verge

As mentioned in the Coruxo article, I am back in the US but that doesnt mean my attention has wavered away from my dearly beloved Segunda. In fact, being in Spain for those 10 days only stoked it more, especially after visiting Vallecas on a match day (NOTE: Ill have a separate Rayo promotion article once it happens).

Anyways, Jornada 40 in the Segunda kicks off tonight and it could be a weekend where all promotion, playoff and permanencia spots are sealed up.

Friday Night Lights see Granada hosting Villarreal B. The Baby Submariners fired their coach Javi Gracia a little over a week ago after a run of poor results. His firing recalls the pink slips earned by former coaches Oscar Cano (Salamanca) and Paco Jemez (Las Palmas); two coaches who were drawing tons of parise and had their teams in the top five only to see a long losing streak lead to a firing. Unfair? Perhaps. But the coaching life in the Segunda is a short one so no one should be surprised. Former Atletico goalkeeper Molina is now at the helm and earned a point in his debut this past Monday at Elche. The Baby Submariners need just one point in their last three to confirm their safety but are going up against Granada who themselves need just a point to confirm their playoff position is too tall a task. The Andalucians are without injured striker Alex Geijo but Ighalo, Benitez and Orellana still can form an imposing attack. HOME WIN.

Its going to be a huge party in Sevilla at the Benito Villamarin as Betis will celebrate on the field their promotion to the Primera. My words on Betis promotion pale in comparison to what Adam over at Ooh Betis has been sharing the last week so I would simply point everyone in that direction to give a full synopsis on the Betis promotion party.

Only thing is that I think its cool they got to celebrate on an Ave train coming back from Tarragona. Much more comfortable than doing it on a plane. Oh yeah, Betis host Huesca on Saturday in a game with no implications. HOME WIN.

In complete contract to the Betis-Huesca game, you have Valladolid-Gimnastic that spans both ends of the Segunda spectrum. Nastic are three points above Salamanca in the race to avoid relegation while the pucelanos are three ahead of Xerez for the final playoff spot. This is not one of those matches where a draw favors both teams. In fact, it could hurt them severly. In matches like these, I always favor the more desperate team and that would be Nastic. But Valladolid have played so well in this second half and there has not been a better player in the last three months than Javi Guerra. The Catalans play two hours before Salamanca so rest assure many will be watching this affair. Tough call here. DRAW.

The aforementioned Salamanca game is an encounter in El Helmantico against Cartagena, a team with dwindling playoff hopes themselves. Salamanca have pulled off some huge wins in the last several weeks including wins against Rayo and Elche so they are certainly playing better. Cartagena slipped past Girona last weekend but I dont see that happening on Saturday. HOME WIN.

Recreativo coach Juan Carlos Rios rightly earned a contract extension and will be back next year. It is well deserved for the man who took over a team spiraling out of control. Recre host Alcorcon in a match between teams with slim playoff hopes. Alcorcon are actually just four points back, but with two of their last three on the road, I expect very little of them. HOME WIN.

There might not be a more depressing scene in all of futbol than Saturdays Albacete-Tenerife match. I have to give the canarios some credit for at least making some sort of a late charge and winning some games, but their disastrous season is coming to an end with a whimper which is justified. Probably the only thing worth paying attention to in regards to Tenerife will be how they are welcomed by their Canary Islands neighbors Las Palmas on the final week of the season. Oh boy. Tenerife has gone from playing Real Madrid and Barcelona in 2009-2010 to two years later playing Coruxo! DRAW.

Ponferradina-Cordoba is another match with two teams whose fate is decided. It would be nice for the home fans in El Bierzo to see their team end on a positive note. They have nothing to be ashamed of. That team has played hard all year long. Meanwhile Cordoba are safe and have nothing to play for. HOME WIN.

Las Palmas put on a show last weekend on the road at the Mini Estadi scoring five times against the Baby Blaugrana in a 3-5 win over Barca B. Jonathan Viera scored three goals which rekindled the interest of many a Primera team in the youngster. Vitolo is back and healthy after his injury so there is a bright future again for the Pio Pio who need a point to ensure safety. They better get it either this weekend or next because Tenerife would like nothing better than to ruin their rivals season with a win on their home turf in the final week. Las Palmas face Numancia out on the islands and, as we all know, Numancia are just too poor at home. Las Palmas stamps their place in next years Segunda. HOME WIN.

It is a Catalan derby this weekend as Girona face Barca B. Girona still have a small chance at getting a playoff spot while the only thing intriguing surrounding Barca B is how many of those players will make the final 18 next Saturday at Wembley and where Luis Enrique will coach. Marca reports that the Asturian is headed to Atletico Madrid but Enrique says he knows nothing of it. Marca usually gets those things right so Im expecting to see him taking the helm down by the Manzanares. As for this weekends match, Im leaning toward a share of the spoils. DRAW.

Celta and Elche may be separated by only one point in the standings with Elche at 64 and Celta at 63, but these two teams have entirely different looks about them right now. Elche are playing very well including that gutty 1-2 win in Vallecas. Meanwhile Celta just cant buy a victory anywhere. The Galicians get another home match this weekend which means another strike of the Curse of Juan de Vigo. Celta are backdooring their way into this playoff. ROAD WIN.

Lastly, the Rayo fans will be marching toward Vallecas on Sunday at noon in anticipation of their promotion. The Vallecanos have stumbled in their last three matches with two losses and a draw, and Sundays opponent in Xerez presents another challenge. The azulino are three points behind Valladolid for the final playoff spot so you know they will be coming hard at Rayo. Nevertheless, I just like Rayo in this one with Armenteros being the hero. HOME WIN and PROMOTION!

Hasta lunes!

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