Previewing Portugalete vs Basconia: Promotional Playoffs First Round
Patxi Salinas has worked wonders in his first year as Basconia manager. After a slow start to the season the Basauritarras caught fire, posting an eleven-game unbeaten streak from November through February and finishing fourth in the table. As a result, Basconia will compete in the Tercera promotional playoffs this weekend.
Unlike the Segunda B, the Tercera playoffs will consist of the top four teams from each group competing against one another. On Saturday Basconia will face Portugalete at Sarriena while Sestao River and Vitoria meet in the other game. The two winners will then play the final with promotion on the line.
Finishing as the top team in the table, Portugalete are a strong side with plenty of fire power in attack. Portu finished the season having scored 48 goals, second only to Sestao River, while conceding just 22 times. Balance has been the key to success for Ezequiel Loza’s side.
Portugalete may very well be considered the best team in Group IV this season, but they’ve struggled against Basconia. In the first meeting of the season Basconia earned a 1-1 draw at home before beating Portugalete 2-0 at La Florida back in January. Basconia will need another good performance to win and advance. Unfortunately, the Tercera playoffs won’t have extra time or penalties. If the game ends in a draw the higher seeded team will advance. Simply put, anything other than a win will result in Basconia being eliminated.
On a positive note, Salinas will have a healthy squad to choose from on Saturday. Forwards Ruben Azcona and Marco Diliberto have both recovered from serious injuries while Beñat Prados and Aitor Paredes are in the team after initially being called up by Bilbao Athletic. Salinas will essentially be able to field his strongest lineup in what will be a difficult game.
Scoring goals has been the biggest issue for Basconia this season. Midfielder and captain Youssouf Diarra leads the team with 13 goals while no one else has made a significant impact. Josu Juste comes in second with just 4 goal of his own. Having Diliberto and Azcona back in the team could be a major boost for Basconia as goals will be needed to win at Sarriena. Juvenil A starlet Nico Williams has also been included in the squad and could see important minutes.
Basconia Projected XI: Julen Agirrezabala, Álvaro Núñez, Aitor Paredes, Ander Lorente, Mikel Kortazar, Unai Naveira, Beñat Prados, Youssouf Diarra, Javier Rudi, Josu Juste, Jon Cabo