The final stage of the season has come and so the urgency to avoid relegation. This time, there are up to eight teams involved in the race for two unwanted spots (from RCD Mallorca 12th and ruling out Elche). The battle to stay will be alive until the end and so the wear has already left some victims in the benches along the way.
Diego Martínez and Pacheta have been fired this week, as both announcements took place in the same day. From my point of view, logic decisions if we analyze the runs from both coaches throughout the season, but unexpected ‘timing’ wise, as they have both been sacked right after the last national team break of the campaign, the last opportunity to change the course of a crisis by hiring a new coach in order to have enough time to make an impact.
In the case of Diego Martínez, he has been fired after a disappointing job under charge of Espanyol, as he has been unable to provide them with an identity like he did at Granada, and so he has left the squad in relegation despite having a talented enough roster to stay at LaLiga.
That is exactly why I blame Diego Martínez the most for Espanyol’s current situation (and I love that coach), because he has not made the most out of the potential from the roster in benefit of the team that has not been solid at all.
Regarding to Pacheta, I believe that his personal record has made an impact on this decision, as Valladolid’s situation is not that worrying. We must remind you that he already went down with SD Huesca back in the 20/21 campaign, and taking a look the course his squad was taking, Valladolid have opted to sack him just in case.
Just unlike Espanyol (and with a more limited squad), Pacheta’s Valladolid has been known for displaying an offensive and attractive football playing style that, unlikely, has not resulted in better outcomes to be away from relegation. Yes indeed, it is also true that Valladolid really strengthened themselves in the winter transfer market with outstanding additions such as Cyle Larin and Darwin Machís, but not enough to totally scape from relegation.
If we take a look at other teams involved in the race to avoid relegation, Quique Sánchez Flore’s survival in charge of Getafe is kind of surprising, but President Ángel Torres really trusts him based on last year’s come back after a very poor first part of the season.
A similar scenario to Javier Aguirre’s at RCD Mallorca, as they are hard to beat at home but a disaster on the road. However, if they keep their streak at home, based on being tough defensively and making the most out of Muriqi’s goals and Kang-in Lee’s assists, they should not struggle too much to avoid relegation.
I also believe that Cádiz will stay, as they have a way better roster compared to last year’s and they have strengthened themselves in the winter transfer market. They will certainly suffer until the end due to their multiple absences both because of injuries and suspensions plus the refereeing negligences, but they will pull it off. If they accomplished it last year, I can’t imagine them not doing it again.
Sevilla and Valencia, two big squads going through a tough momentum, will both suffer until the end (specially Valencia), but I do not think that any of them will go down. After the exit of Sampaoli and the hiring of Mendilibar, Sevilla will stick to the basics in order to get as much points as possible. Pure ‘Old School’ playing style to secure their stay, and I believe that it will work out.
On the other hand, Rubén Baraja’s Valencia will certainly be on verge of relegation. A poorly built team from its foundations that lacks an identity, is sunken institutionally and has players that struggle to deal with such a pressure that they are not used to. Mestalla will push to scratch points from anywhere possible, but they will have to use their calculators all the way until the end. I am not sure with this one, but I really want Valencia to stay.
Last but not least, Rubi’s Almería, a team that just went up and with a totally inexpert roster in LaLiga Santander, which is why they are likely to go back down. Anything that makes them to avoid relegation will be a success, but I do not think that anyone will be surprised nor get mad if they end up going down. That is likely to happen with such a limited squad.
Main image: @GetafeCF.