One Foot In Second Division?
I was exchanging messages with Elisa the other day as she thought that I was a tad hard on Athletic Bilbao. She thought that I was putting them in second division, which is far from the truth.
THIS is how I sound when I tap a team to second division.
After four weeks in the La Liga season, it is safe to say… Sporting Gijón… Thank You For Participating. After four weeks into the tournament they have proved to everyone why they are this season's Murcia.
I usually do not make these predictions so early in the season, but after seeing Sporting play the past few days, the team looked very fragile and lacked a great deal of depth. Their return to first division after a decade long absence lasted about two matches. Two hard-fought losses against Getafe and Sevilla showed a fighting spirit that Coach Manuel Preciado asked for. As a matter of fact this is all that Preciado can get from his team. If there is one silver lining in this dark cloud was that of Mate Bilic, who scored three of the six goals that the Rojiblancos have scored in their first four matches in first division. Their start is historic, (no that´s not a good thing) and it seems like their climb is now of Everest-like proportions. You would have to go back to the 1958-59 season when Las Palmas received the same amount of goals in four matches. Las Palmas would eventually allow 65 goals in 30 matches that season. Oh, by the way they were relegated.
If there is one positive out of all of this is that they have not reached the level of defensive ineptitude that the 1941-42 Oviedo side and the 1951-52 Zaragoza allowed 21 scores after four matches. Historic starts like these virtually not just condemn a team to the second division, they punch their ticket.
Things do not look any better as they host a hot Villarreal side this coming weekend.
Their last two matches could have sealed their fate as they face Real Madrid with a revamped side that saw players like Bilic come off the bench because of injury while defenders Jorge and Sastre were left back in Gijón. Overall, the Gijón backline looked weaker than Wall Street so far this season.
The proverbial elevator to second division could not go any slower in their case and if this past week´s 13-goal debacle was not enough I can give you other examples. These two losses against Barcelona (1-6) and Real Madrid (7-1) were the second worst losses in the history of the club both at home and on the road respectively. Sporting are on pace to being the worst defense in the history of Spanish first division. I cannot give you an answer as to whether they will come in 19th or 20th because the bottom two teams have opposite dilemmas. Málaga can´t score and Sporting can´t stop anyone, and for that reason La Liga has become a 19-team race.
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