With Real Madrid Castilla booking their place in the playoffs on Sunday, eyes have now turned to what’s needed for Raul’s side to reach the promise land of second division football.
Félicitations au Castilla de Raùl qui réussit à se qualifier aux playoffs après une victoire sensationnelle et qui n’est plus qu’à une seule étape d’une montée historique en deuxième division !pic.twitter.com/I9Vi8y1OHI— Les Merengues (@Les_Merengues) May 9, 2021
Pessimistic as it may sound, the hard work remains very much in front of Castilla. This season’s playoffs, in keeping with the rest of the league, has been greatly changed from previous years. Unlike past campaigns, there is no champions playoffs and all 16 teams are drawn together with the best placed teams seeded to play the worst placed. Having finished third, this means Castilla will have to beat someone who finished in first or second place in their respective group to progress to the next round.
There won’t be a second leg or penalties if games run into extra time, instead, the team with the higher position across the previous two phases will progress automatically to the next round. Castilla have the fourth worst regular season record of the 16 playoff sides. There is only potential tie in which Castilla won’t have to win to progress and one suspects this will be the sole case in which the reserves will hold that sort of advantage.
Adding to the challenge, the games will all be at neutral venues with the Extramendura region of Spain chosen to host the playoffs. Castilla will find out their opponents on Monday at 12:30pm Spanish time and play their first game on either May 15th or May 16th. As difficult as it looks set to be, there are reasons to be optimistic as well. A lot of the squad is rounding into form at the right time, some players have been contributing at the first division this season and Castilla have overturned the odds so far by getting this far.