Real Madrid Castilla are a week away from starting another season in Segunda B with kick off against Las Rozas pinned for Sunday October 18th. Though every campaign is important given what a prize promotion is for both the reserve side and Real Madrid as an institution, the massive reshuffle underway in the third division this season makes 2020/21 a doubly important year for Raul’s men.
Before diving into the meat of this article, we need to address the 20 foot purple elephant in the room, also known as Segunda B 2020/2021. Due to the COVID pandemic curtailing relegation, 102 teams rather than the usual 80, are competing in the division this year. The RFEF have taken all these teams and spilt them into five groups. Real Madrid Castilla were placed into Group 5 alongside familiar foes from last season such as Las Rozas, Atletico Madrid B and Getafe B as well as some new faces such as Melilla and Badajoz.
Perhaps because 102 teams playing in five groups wasn’t complicated enough, the RFEF decided to further spilt these groups into two sub-groups. Castilla are in sub-group A for Group 5, which is mostly made up of sides from the Spanish capital.
This season will see Castilla play the other nine teams in their subgroup home and away. Should they finish in the top three, they will go into a new group of six teams whom they will play home and away. Eventually, 16 sides will face off in straight knockouts for four places in LaLiga Smartbank. The difference from other years is that those who don’t finish of the top three of their subgroup could end up in the fourth tier next season.
How can this happen I hear you ask?
Well, despite a global pandemic, the RFEF have gone ahead with plans to create a brand new third division of Spanish football called the Primera Division RFEF (yes, its a dumb name). This new third division will be made up of 40 teams, four who were relegated from the second division and the remaining 36 coming from the current crop of 2020/21 Segunda B sides (screw the best teams in Tercera I guess).
Given the brain cells one must commit to fully understand the mess Segunda B is this season, saying with confidence how Castilla can be one of those 36 teams is highly difficult. The most assured route is by finishing in the top three of their sub-group this season. Failing that, it really depends on where Raul’s side finish. If they finish mid-table (specifically between 4th and 6th place), Castilla will be placed in a group of six teams, however, instead of playing for promotion into the second division, they will play to stay in the third. Only the top two sides of each group will compete in the new third division, the rest will follow the current Segunda B (which is going to be renamed to Segunda Divsion RFEF) into the fourth tier
To round up, Castilla will be a fourth tier side if they don’t either A) finish in the top three of their sub-group or B) finish between 4th and 6th in their subgroup and then finish in the top two of another group of midtable teams.
The damage of not being in, at the very least, the third tier in 2021 is hard to put into words. From my digging, Castilla haven’t been a fourth tier side since the Plus Ultra days, before Real Madrid had even established an relationship with the team, which would make the drop to the fourth tier a historic failure. Naturally, a whole generation of prospects would have to play at the lowest level of professional football, something that would surely stunt their development. Castilla revenue would also take a massive hit, not to mention, they would have to claw their way out of an even more complicated division than Segunda B.
Realistically, staying in the third division should be bottom of Raul’s list of priorities. He has one of the most talented Castilla teams in recent memory and his promotion rivals have arguably gotten easier this season outside of Atletico Madrid B and Atletico Baleares. Nonetheless, given the fine margins and devastating effects of failure, 2020/21 might just be the most important season in Castilla history.