Barcelona B are in a good position to win their group in Segunda Division B, the third tier of Spanish football, giving them a spot in the playoffs that could result in promotion back into the second tier.
That’s because they’re 5 points clear at the top after a run of good results, most recently and perhaps most notably, a 4-0 thrashing of third-place Valencia Mestalla.
Meanwhile, second-place Alcoyano lost to relegation scrappers AE Prat, and have the opposite feel about them overall: while Barcelona B are beaming with confidence, Alcoyano are sinking.
While winning the group doesn’t mean automatic promotion, it gets you in the group winners’ playoffs. Teams placed second through fourth still get a chance to earn promotion, but it’s a much more treacherous path.
The four group winners are drawn into two ties, two legs each. The winners of each tie are promoted.
Meanwhile, the second, third, and fourth place finishers of each group play round robin ties as well. The group winners who lost their ties are parachuted down into these playoffs, and eventually, two of those 18 teams are also promoted.
The system is a bit complicated but the key takeaway is that winning your group spares you a lot of trouble, and even if you lose your initial tie you get a chance at redemption. No such luxury exists for the runners-up.
Barcelona B are on their way to that easier path, thanks to a team that’s a mix of serviceable players and young promises managed by Gerard López.
They’re stable at the back and have an impressive goalkeeper, Jose Suarez. He’s being talked about as Barcelona’s third choice keeper next season if Jordi Masip leaves.
He’s protected by a back four that includes Sergi Palencia, who captains the team, and Marlon, a prospect that has gotten his debut for the first team already.
In midfield, the man to watch is Carles Aleñá. He is considered one of the best prospects at Barcelona at the moment.
Upfront, it’s a group effort as Dani Romera, Marc Cardona and Alberto Perea all score a fairly even share of the goals.
This team was built with promotion in mind, trying to balance young stars with players who are good for the division even if they don’t have a future as first team members. They’re well on their way to their goal, but it’s far from assured.