Los Racinguistas are in the relegation dogfight, while los Nervionenses are a little too mid-table for their lofty tastes...
Just as they experienced a tough period at the start of the season due to the cruelty of their fixture list, Racing Santander have found the beginning of the second round of fixtures a difficult time. Pitted against many of Spain’s best clubs in quick succession, los Verdiblancos are struggling for victories, and though draws have been commonplace of late, that’s not been good enough for the club’s new owners.
Earlier this week, the bell finally tolled for head coach Miguel Angel Portugal, whose last act was to guide los Racinguistas to a 1-1 draw against struggling Zaragoza – the club’s fifth tie in seven league matches. Left-back Christian was the unlikely scorer of the opening goal, but Racing couldn’t hold on and would leak in the second half, costing two vital points.
This result was deemed unacceptable, and after little over a year in charge, Portugal was whisked out the door to be replaced with former Sporting de Gijon boss Marcelino, who enjoyed a previous stint at Racing during the 2007-08 season. His task is simple: stop Racing’s slide towards the Segunda Division.
Immediate improvement in the Cantabrian side is difficult to see. Forthcoming fixtures against Getafe, Villarreal and Real Madrid all look to be tricky ties on paper, but with a relatively simple end to the season in sight, all hope is by no means lost.
Don’t Doubt Sevilla
This season has certainly not gone according to plan for Sevilla, who perhaps should have taken their Champions League play-off elimination by Braga as a sign of things to come. Los Nervionenses had targeted winning a place in Europe’s premier competition as their aim for this campaign, but despite jettisoning Alvaro Alvarez at the beginning of the campaign, Gregorio Manzano has had little better luck.
After a miserable run of five successive defeats in the lead-up to the Christmas break, hope was rekindled by a sequence of three wins from four, though subsequent draws against Deportivo La Coruna and Malaga have acted to stifle the Andalucians once more. After showing plenty of verve in Galicia, their local derby against los Boquerones was a huge let-down in the end, with a scoreless outcome just.
“Let no one doubt that at the end of the championship, we will be among the largest teams in Spain,” president Jose Maria del Nido thundered on the club’s official website this week. “We will continue fighting among the majors, and to those who believe that we are dead, we will let them know we are more alive than ever.
“When things go bad, we are going to get ourselves more motivated to achieve the goals that we have set for ourselves.”
With a 13 point gap to bridge in just 16 fixtures, the president seems to be speaking from the heart rather than the head.
Marcelino will be missing Alexandros Tziolis, Oscar Serrano and Papa Kouli Diop for his fresh bow in the Racing dugout. There have been no reports of fresh problems, and Markus Rosenberg is back following a ban.
Renato and Diego Perotti have both been cleared to play this weekend, but Frederic Kanoute continues to be troubled by adductor problems. Didier Zokora has been in the Cote d’Ivoire this week for personal reasons and should be considered a big doubt.