La Liga: How have the promoted teams fared so far?
The start of this year’s Primera Division saw three old favourites return to the top flight; Celta Vigo, Deportivo La Coruna and Valladolid were all promoted from the Segunda last season. As with all newly promoted teams, they do need a little time to find their feet and adjust to the improvement in standard that they encounter with each game.
It is hard to think of anyone that could be sad to see Deportivo back amongst the elite again. Anyone who has watched Champions League football over the last decade will remember some of the epic games they were part of. One player in particular still remains from those heady days – Juan Carlos Valeron.
Deportivo have had a tricky start to the season, and currently lie in 18th place, having managed only one win thus far. However, they have already faced Real Madrid, Sevilla and Valencia, which was not the easiest of starts. The 3-3 draw they earned in Valencia was particularly pleasing, as they came back from 3-1 down to earn a point, and could even have snatched a win at the end but for a great save in the final minute. They even had the cheek to open the scoring through Riki at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid, but unfortunately, some terrible defending saw them lose heavily to the reigning champions.
They face Barcelona at home this weekend, which does not instill much hope for a result. However, their following six games could go a long way to deciding their future this season; they face other newly promoted sides as well as some teams who have struggled at the start of the season.
Celta Vigo meanwhile, have had a relatively positive start to the season after their five year absence from the Primera Division. After losing both of their opening games, it looked like it could be a long season ahead for the newly promoted side, but they have quickly turned it around.
Before the season began, it was thought that Celta’s future could depend largely on the contribution of striker Iago Aspas. He scored 23 goals in their promotion push last season, but this was to be his first season playing in the top flight in Spain. So far he has adapted well and has scored vital goals in two of their three victories, and the club will be hoping that this can continue.
Another player who has adapted extremely well to life in Spain’s top tier is Hugo Mallo, the right back. The 21 year old has been playing for Celta for the last three seasons and has been excellent so far.
The club face a tricky spell over the next few weeks, with trips to the Bernabeu and the Camp Nou. If the club are to remain in the top flight, they will need to pick up points against their rivals rather than the top teams, and their fixture list is a little kinder after these games.
Valladolid have enjoyed the best start of all the newly promoted sides on their return to the top flight. They currently lie in eighth place in the table, and fully deserve to be there after some wonderful displays; the 6-1 thrashing of Rayo Vallecano in particular, was a resounding result for the side.
Their most important player so far has been Oscar Gonzalez, who has scored four goals and contributed two assists already. The Spanish midfielder, in his second spell at the club, was an integral part of the side which gained promotion last season, when he contributed 13 goals and six assists.
Like both the other newly promoted clubs, Valladolid need results against the teams around them if they are to remain in the top flight this season. It would be foolish to expect them to pick up points against some of the more established sides in the league, but as Deportivo showed against Valencia, it is certainly possible. It is wonderful to have these three sides back in the Primera Division, and hopefully, they are here to stay.