Granada CF, UD Las Palmas and Deportivo Alavés: All you need to know about the clubs promoted to LaLiga Santander

We now know the three clubs who have secured promotion thanks to their performances in LaLiga SmartBank this past season. After Granada CF were crowned champions and UD Las Palmas secured the other automatic promotion spot, Deportivo Alavés then won the third and final ticket to the top division via the playoffs.  

Here comes a look at the three newest members of LaLiga Santander, who’ll be taking on the top teams of Spanish football in 2023/24.

Granada CF: A bounce back promotion inspired by Paco López and Myrto Uzuni

Despite topping the table for just six of the 42 matchdays, Los Nazaríes won each of their last three games of the season to secure LaLiga Santander promotion just one year after being relegated to LaLiga SmartBank.

Back in 2019/20, a newly-promoted Granada CF finished seventh in the top flight to secure European qualification for the first time in the club’s history. Under Diego Martínez, the Andalusian side also reached the Copa del Rey semi-finals in the same season, before they went all the way to the Europa League quarter-finals the following term, eventually being knocked out by Manchester United.

After Martínez departed the club, Granada CF were relegated in 2021/22. Aitor Karanka was the final coach of that turbulent season and was kept on for the start of the 2022/23 campaign in the second tier. However, after Granada CF failed to score in nine of their first 15 games, the club decided to dismiss Karanka and replaced him with Paco López.

López made an impressive impact and, having turned the 19,000-capacity Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes into a fortress, he led the Andalusian side to promotion. In fact, Granada CF didn’t record a single defeat on home soil, where they won 17 of their 21 games. The vast majority of these victories were inspired by the league’s top scorer, Myrto Uzuni, who netted 23 of Granada CF’s 55 goals. Los Nazaríes didn’t lose any of the 17 games in which the 27-year-old striker netted at least once, registering 15 victories and two draws. Unsurprisingly, Uzuni was the man to open the scoring just before the break against CD Leganés on Saturday and the main reason why Granada CF boasted the second-best attack in LaLiga SmartBank.

Next season will be Granada CF’s 27th in LaLiga Santander and López will hope to emulate the achievements of Martínez before him in having a successful campaign as a newly promoted side.

UD Las Palmas: Back in LaLiga Santander after a five-year promotion pursuit

Having secured LaLiga Santander promotion after avoiding defeat at home against Deportivo Alavés in the final matchday, UD Las Palmas are now looking forward to their 35th season in the top flight. Led by former Barça Atlètic coach García Pimienta, Los Amarillos had the best defence in the league with just 29 goals conceded in 42 games.

García Pimienta joined the club in January 2022 and inspired the team to an 11-game unbeaten run at the end of last term. They finished fourth in the LaLiga SmartBank table that season but were knocked out in the playoff semi-finals by CD Tenerife.

Despite the elimination at the hands of their Canary Islands rivals, UD Las Palmas did respond well in 2022/23 and secured promotion after picking up as many as 36 points from 21 games away from home. In fact, no LaLiga SmartBank side conceded fewer goals (16) and no team managed more away wins (nine) than Los Amarillos. They may not have boasted a scoring machine such as Uzuni, but 16 of their players got their names on the scoresheet for LaLiga SmartBank’s third-best attack.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Álvaro Valles played a crucial role in UD Las Palmas’ run, as he kept an impressive 22 clean sheets in 42 games. The Real Betis academy product produced a man-of-the-match display against Deportivo Alavés, when he recorded his 22nd clean sheet to help his team seal promotion.

The last time UD Las Palmas were promoted to LaLiga Santander was back in 2015. They stayed in the top flight for three years but were relegated back to LaLiga SmartBank after the 2017/18 season.

Current captain Jonathan Viera has now become the only player in the club’s history to celebrate two promotions to the top flight with UD Las Palmas. Viera was the team’s leader throughout the season, recording a total of 12 goal contributions, as the 33-year-old winger netted seven goals and assisted another five to help UD Las Palmas seal what he considers the most special promotion in his career, bringing Spanish top-flight football back to the Canary Islands and the 32,000-capacity Estadio de Gran Canaria.

Deportivo Alavés: An immediate return thanks to a pressure penalty

Like Granada CF, Deportivo Alavés were relegated at the end of last season, but they managed to achieve promotion back to the top division at the first attempt. With the experienced Luis García Plaza as coach for the entire 2022/23 campaign, the Basque club had spent all season in either the automatic promotion or playoff positions, never dropping below fifth place in a demonstration of the team’s desire for promotion.

They even entered the final matchday of the regular season with a chance of automatic promotion, but were held to a 0-0 draw away at UD Las Palmas. That setback didn’t deter the Basque outfit, as they then entered the playoffs and defeated neighbours SD Eibar 3-1 on aggregate to set up a two-legged final against Levante UD.

Neither team could score through the first 210 minutes of the final, which entered extra time. However, in stoppage time of the second half of extra time, Deportivo Alavés won a penalty that presented them with a shot at promotion. All the pressure was on the shoulders of Asier Villalibre, who understood that if he scored from 12 yards out then his team would win promotion but that if he missed then Levante UD would hold on to the last ticket to the top tier. The striker kept his cool and converted the most important goal of his career.

That was Villalibre’s sixth goal of the season, which made him the second-top scorer in the squad. The top scorer was Luis Rioja, who was the leader in attack for Los Blanquiazules this term as he netted 10 goals and also provided five assists.

For Deportivo Alavés, the 2023/24 season will be their 18th in the top flight and their seventh at that level in the past eight years. After six consecutive seasons in LaLiga Santander between 2016 and 2022, this immediate return after dropping down to LaLiga SmartBank shows that the club’s sporting project was solid. With the amazing Mendizorroza atmosphere behind them, with 20,000 fans cheering the team on, Deportivo Alavés could be a force to be reckoned with next season.

MG Team

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *