2016-17 La Liga 2 Preview

Spain’s La Liga 2, previously known as the Segunda Division, often produces drama, unpredictability and tension that is unrivalled in the more illustrious La Liga. Last season was no different, with Alaves, Leganes and – via the playoffs – Osasuna winning promotion and Ponferradina, Llagostera, Albacete and Bilbao Athletic all falling back into the regionalised third tier.

Such is the League’s competitiveness, only two points separated 4th to 8th, while fifth-placed Cordoba lost more matches than Almeria, 13 places below. Champions Alaves scored only five more goals than Llagostera, who finished third from bottom.

The even playing field is largely due to a lack of funds across the league, with a TV deal miniscule to that of even the lowest-earning side in the top flight. Few clubs at this level have strong financial backing from their boards, with most clubs consisting of youth products, loan deals and freebies.

Madrid duo Rayo Vallecano and Getafe both drop into the division this season, as do Levante.

Despite losing a raft of loan players and their star midfield pairing of Pedro Leon and Pablo Sarabia, Getafe seem to have recruited cleverly. A trio of players (Dani Pacheco, Jorge Molina and Francisco Molinero) arrive from Real Betis, while experienced midfield duo David Fuster (Olympiakos) and Alejandro Faurlin (Queens Park Rangers) also join the ranks of Los Azulones and defender Johannes van den Bergh has been drafted in from Hertha Berlin. Despite being a modestly-sized club even for this level, they are expecting a strong promotion push.

Their Madrid neighbours Rayo will mourn the loss of flamboyant Coach Paco Jemez to Granada, but he has been replaced by Jose Ramón Sandoval for a second spell at their helm. Los Franjirrojos’ squad upheaval has been less pronounced than Getafe’s, though they have lost the services of star midfielder Jozabed to Fulham. Thus, the continuity of the playing squad could prove important and again a promotion challenge is likely.

Moving east, 14 players have departed Levante’s first-team squad and, as yet, not much by way of top-level experience has replaced them. New Coach Juan Muniz arrives from Alcorcon, and will hope to steer them to mid-table safety.

Of the other promotion hopefuls, Real Zaragoza and Real Valladolid have both recruited well, despite successive seasons of underachievement, while Gimnastic Tarragona and Girona (who both came so close last season) will be hoping that this is finally the year they can break into the top tier.

Stars of last season have stayed at their respective clubs in Sergio Leon (Elche), David Rodriguez (Alcorcon), Toche (Oviedo), Quique (Almeria), and all of whom will be hoping that this season proves to be better than the last.

One club who cannot say that is Cordoba, who have lost a host of key personnel in Florin Andone, Xisco and Fidel and subsequently may struggle to replicate last term’s performance, when they lost to Osasuna in the playoff final.

Sevilla Atletico – the League’s sole youth-team representatives – will hope to improve on the recent performances of their Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona equivalents, who both suffered relegation. They are joined by 1999-founded club UCAM Murcia and Catalan side Reus for their first-ever seasons at this level, along with the return of Cadiz, who will be looking to consolidate themselves at the first time of asking.

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