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Real Oviedo one game away from a long-awaited return to La Liga
TIWN June 18, 2024
Real Oviedo one game away from a long-awaited return to La Liga

New Delhi, June 18 : Not since 2000-01 have Real Oviedo played in Spanish football’s top division, but more than two decades later the Asturian team are one draw or win away from finally returning to La Liga EA Sports level.

After eliminating SD Eibar in midweek courtesy of a 2-0 away victory in the La Liga HyperMotion playoff semifinals, they have taken the advantage at the halfway stage of the final, having defeated RCD Espanyol 1-0 at home on Sunday evening.

Brazilian forward Alexandre Alemão was the hero once again for Los Azules. After opening the scoring against SD Eibar on Wednesday, he was then the quickest to react when RCD Espanyol goalkeeper Joan García spilled a freekick in the 72nd minute of the playoff final first leg.

It could have been an even greater result for the home side, as Masca turned the ball into the net again a few minutes later. However, a marginal offside ruled that goal out, meaning Real Oviedo travel to Catalonia with the slenderest of margins, especially since it would be the higher ranked RCD Espanyol who progress if the tie goes to extra time and finishes level after 120 minutes, given that there are no penalty shootouts in these playoffs.

Coach Luis Carrion knows that this tie is far from over. Speaking after the first leg, he stated: “We still have to play a difficult match, when we go there. We’ll work to get the players in the right mindset, so they approach it trying to win it. This is a strong squad and I’m sure they won’t relax. It wouldn’t make sense to do so. We’re going to RCD Espanyol’s ground to try to have a good performance.”

Real Oviedo’s two-decade mission

The Estadio Carlos Tartiere was packed for the special occasion on Sunday, as local musician Melendi led a chorus of “Volveremos” (“We will return”, in English) ahead of kick-off, singing with tears filling his eyes.

Real Oviedo have been trying to make it back to Spanish football’s top division for some time, and it has not been an easy road. Having endured serious economic troubles following their relegation from the top tier at the beginning of this century, the club fell all the way down to the fourth tier and was close to going extinct. It required a fan-led and player-led movement to save the team, with promotion back into the second tier in 2015 then allowing the club to get back on track.

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