La Liga Hypermotion: Both Div II playoff semifinals finely poised at the halfway point

Madrid (Spain), June 11 The playoff semifinals of the second division in Spain have commenced and all four of the clubs involved still believe they can make it all the way to La Liga. Real Oviedo and SD Eibar drew their semifinal first leg 0-0 on Saturday before RCD Espanyol won 1-0 away at Real Sporting de Gijon on Sunday in the first leg of their tie. Only twice in the past 10 years have the playoff semi-finals been this close across both ties at the halfway mark.

Making these playoffs even more special is that the four clubs involved all boast extremely passionate fanbases. This was clear to see across the matches held this weekend, both of them in Asturias. Over 50,000 fans watched these games played at the Estadio Carlos Tartiere and El Molinón, showing their passion as they backed their teams.

Eibar vs Real Oviedo at Ipurua

The tie between third-placed Eibar and sixth-placed Real Oviedo commenced with a goalless first leg, which was in stark contrast to the 4-3 victory enjoyed by the Basque side when these same teams met in the final matchday of the regular season.

With the stakes even higher in the playoffs, these two teams prioritized defence and managed to cancel each other out. But, a more open game should be expected in the second leg, especially since Real Oviedo will travel to Ipurua knowing that a draw would allow SD Eibar to progress since there are no penalties if the tie remains level after normal time and after a potential period of extra time. As such, the Asturians must play on the front foot and force the issue.

As Real Oviedo coach Luis Carrion put it after the first leg, “We need to go there and try to win. We’ll have to play well and win and we’ll give our all to achieve this, which I hope we do.”

Meanwhile, SD Eibar boss Joseba Etxeberria is pleased to have the second leg at home. “We have to play at our best, knowing our fans are backing us at Ipurua,” he said.

Javi Puado gives RCD Espanyol the edge

The other playoff semifinal is also finely poised, although RCD Espanyol does hold the advantage. The Catalan side is ahead on the scoreboard, leading 1-0, also they have the second leg at home and also know that they’ll progress if it is level after 120 minutes.

The first leg of this duel between Los Pericos and Real Sporting de Gijón was thrilling, and it was a miracle that it remained 0-0 entering the final few minutes. That was when Javi Puado turned up to score the first goal of these playoffs, rounding the goalkeeper and finishing after receiving a defence-splitting pass from Martin Braithwaite. The two forwards have now combined to score 36 goals between them this La Liga Hypermotion season and continue to perform at the highest level.

Although RCD Espanyol have the lead, neither side’s coach thinks this tie is over. Miguel Ángel Ramírez, the coach in Gijon, stated: “Nobody here is giving up and we’ll fight to the end, which is what this team and this fanbase deserves.” Meanwhile, his counterpart, Manolo Gonzalez, added: “I’ve participated in a lot of these playoffs and you can even lose despite playing well. So, there’s a long way to go.”

Both second-leg matches should be fascinating, with SD Eibar vs Real Oviedo starting on Wednesday and RCD Espanyol vs Real Sporting de Gijon coming at the same time on Thursday.

Source: IANS
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