Plenty has been made of Betis with the return of Pepe Mel causing quite a stir, and it will be interesting to see whether their free-scoring style will continue next season. However, less is known about Sporting, the side that finished second ahead of Girona by a whisker. Here are three things you need to know before seeing them next year.
Although Sporting ended the season in second place due to Girona conceding a late, late goal, Sporting were deserving runners-up. It would have been a travesty had they not been promoted having been so difficult to beat throughout the 2014/15 campaign.
Abelardo Fernandez’s team lost just twice in the Segunda, six times fewer than any other team, and kept the best defensive record too. That is no mean feat and it requires a certain level of understanding and organisation in that backline. Bernardo Espinosa, Luis Hernandez and Alex Menendez were key parts of a team that conceded just 27 goals, whilst Gijon also have left-back Roberto Canella returning from Deportivo this summer. Rumours of Sporting acquiring Real Madrid’s Diego Llorente have picked up as they aim to build on their key strength to stay in La Liga next season.
The average age of Sporting’s promotion side was a fraction over 24 years with many of those players graduating from the youth system. In fact the entire squad had been formed by either youth products or free transfers. The likes of Jony, Carlos Castro, Alberto Lora, Hernandez and Nacho Cases have all come through, whilst many more wait patiently on the fringes of the first team.
Sergio Alvarez’s contract situation remains tenuous as the midfielder, 23, considers his options, though local media believe that dialogue is promising. If talks break down then expect another youngster to roll off of the production line and impress in the first team!
Like with Alvarez, plenty of players have decisions to make concerning their futures. You would expect that the majority of the promotion winning team would stay, though offers from elsewhere can be tempting. The number of players whose contracts expire next summer is in double figures, so expect the club to remain busy for a while.
Should the season not go so well, many may try to engineer a move away, or attempt to win an improved contract. It might become a big talking point in and around the club during the season.