This is how RC Celta, Cádiz CF, Getafe CF, Valencia CF and UD Almería survived the tightest LaLiga Santander relegation battle in years

Heading into Matchday 38, as many as six LaLiga Santander teams were in danger of suffering relegation to LaLiga SmartBank. While Elche CF and RCD Espanyol were the first two teams to officially drop to the second tier, the final relegation spot remained undecided as Cádiz CF, Getafe CF and Valencia CF entered the final round tied on 41 points, while UD Almería and RC Celta had picked up 40 points each and Real Valladolid sat third-bottom with 39 points.

Real Valladolid didn’t manage to overcome Getafe CF, drawing 0-0 with José Bordalás’ side, meaning that the Pucela dropped down to the second tier. But, how exactly did the other five sides manage to secure survival in what was one of the tightest and most enthralling relegation battles in recent years? Here comes a look at the explanations for how RC Celta, Cádiz CF, Getafe CF, Valencia CF and UD Almería managed to stay up.

Gabri Veiga rescues RC Celta

The Galician side had the toughest task among the relegation rivals heading into Matchday 38, as they needed to get something from a game against LaLiga Santander champions FC Barcelona in their bid to clinch safety. Plus, RC Celta had won just one of their previous 11 games, recording five defeats in six matches.

Meanwhile, they had been a dealt a major blow, as Iago Aspas was struggling with injury in the final stretch of the season. The RC Celta veteran started in just one of his team’s last five games of the 2022/23 campaign and didn’t manage to score a single goal in 11 matches. Unable to begin the Matchday 38 fixture, RC Celta needed someone to step up in Aspas’ stead and the player to do so was Veiga, with the 21-year-old prodigy taking his season tally to 11 goals by netting a brace to help his team clinch a 2-1 win and finish 13th in the table.

Cádiz CF benefit from home support

Sitting second-bottom before the World Cup break, Cádiz CF were considered as one of the favourites to drop to LaLiga SmartBank. However, the Andalusian side took advantage of the Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla home support in the new calendar year as their fans propelled them to safety.

In fact, Cádiz CF recorded six of their seven home wins this season in the 2023 calendar year, beating relegation rivals RC Celta, Valencia CF and Real Valladolid in their last three home duels to gain an important advantage in the relegation battle. Cádiz CF were then aware that a point away at relegated Elche CF would be enough to avoid relegation on the final day and they did the job to secure a fourth consecutive season in in the Spanish top flight.

Bordalás revitalises Getafe CF’s defence

When Quique Sánchez Flores was dismissed by Getafe CF in late April, the team sat third-bottom in the LaLiga Santander table with seven games to go. Enter club legend José Bordalás. Although Los Azulones suffered a 1-0 defeat away at relegation rivals RCD Espanyol in his first game in charge after returning to the club, the skilled coach manage to turn the situation around.

Getafe CF would go on lose just one of their last six matches of the season and record three of their 10 wins of 2022/23 to clinch safety. A sublime David Soria stepped up to keep three important clean sheets, in a 1-0 win over RC Celta at home, a 1-0 triumph away at Real Betis and a 0-0 draw at Real Valladolid in the last game of the season, as Bordalás managed to revitalise a Getafe CF defence that had been struggling before his comeback.

Baraja and youth come to Valencia CF’s aid

Valencia CF legend Rubén Baraja agreed to take charge of the team in one of the toughest periods in recent history. Los Che were sitting third-bottom after winning just five of their first 21 games of the season. Managing the youngest squad in LaLiga Santander, with an average age of 24.9, Baraja ensured that Mestalla would turn into a fortress again and they lost just one of their final eight home games of the season.

Another key to Valencia CF avoiding what would have been a first season at LaLiga SmartBank level since 1987 was the way Baraja promoted talented youngsters from the academy. For example, the trio of Javi Guerra, Alberto Marí and Diego López all played key minutes in the final stretch and those three even combined to score five of Los Che’s last nine goals of the season.

UD Almería’s faith in Rubi pays off

Despite sitting second-bottom back in mid-March, the newly-promoted club placed their confidence in coach Rubi and decided against replacing him ahead of the last stretch of the campaign. The man who inspired UD Almería to the LaLiga SmartBank title last year led his team to three wins and two draws across their last eight games of the season to avoid relegation.

The last of these two draws came in dramatic fashion, as they were losing 3-2 away at RCD Espanyol with three minutes to go on Sunday night. Had UD Almería not managed to net a late equaliser, they would have been relegated to LaLiga SmartBank instead of Real Valladolid. However, they kept attacking and won a penalty, with Adrián Embarba stepping up to convert from the spot and complete a brace to help his team avoid relegation.

MG Team

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