19 games have passed, and the half time whistle has been blown on the battle to beat the drop. The race to maintain La Liga status is on and with 10 points covering the bottom seven teams, there is plenty to play for in the second half of the season.
Rock bottom but set to rise
Espanyol currently sit rock bottom and are onto their third Coach of the season with Abelardo having taken the helm over the Christmas break. Los Periquitos were given an immediate lift and will be hugely encouraged by their performance in coming from behind to take a point against city rivals Barcelona. Their squad has enough quality to beat the drop, as their run in the Europa league has shown. Abelardo will be hoping that he can replicate his past survival efforts with Sporting Gijon and Alaves.
Another side who have known how it feels to prop up the rest are Leganes. Javier Aguirre’s arrival has been just the tonic the Madrid-based side needed and they have collected two victories and three draws in his seven games in charge, lifting them off bottom spot. The Mexican has given Los Pepineros the lift they need and their upward trajectory should continue as they climb towards safety in the second half of the season.
Real Mallorca had managed to keep their head above water for the first 18 games of the season, but just as the season hit the halfway mark they fell into the bottom three. Their run of one point in six games will have manager Vicente Moreno worried for his side’s future. New signings to improve the quality of the starting XI and goals from somewhere other than the penalty spot are a must if Los Bermelliones are to stake a serious claim on survival.
Stuck in a rut
Out of the bottom three but unable to buy a win is Celta Vigo boss Oscar Garcia. His seven games in charge have brought just one victory and three draws which has eased them just the right side of safety, for now. Celta’s perennial saviour, Iago Aspas, has five goals in his last six games but unless Garcia can fix the leak in their defence, they may experience that sinking feeling come what May.
Looking over their shoulder
Three sides looking over their shoulders are Eibar, Alaves and Real Valladolid on 19, 20 and 21 points respectively. All three are averaging around the one goal a game mark, meaning victories are hard to come by, hampering their ability to pull away from the drop zone. Asier Garitano has moved early, adding reinforcements to his squad with two loanees from Real Betis, Real Valladolid have added Raul Garcia at left back, whilst Eibar have gone for Sebastián Cristóforo to bolster their midfield options. Currently, this trio of clubs and Mallorca are the only sides in and around the bottom three not to have changed their Coach in the pursuit of improvement this season. Only time will tell how long that statistic holds true as club presidents start to contemplate the prospect of Segunda division football next season.
Twitter: Alex Fitzpatrick