By Richard Martin
BARCELONA (Reuters) – Spain’s Segunda Division has long bucked the trend by staging fixtures while international matches take place but after several clubs suffered without key players last weekend, there are calls for the league to fall into line.
Cadiz’s bid for a playoff place was harmed by a 1-1 draw at home to Cordoba in which they were forced to make do without Darwin Machis and Manu Vallejo, who were occupied playing for Venezuela and Spain’s under-21 side respectively.
Las Palmas, meanwhile, drew 1-1 at Granada while missing their second-highest scorer this season, Rafa Mir, who was one of five second tier players in action for Spain’s under-21 side.
While the Spanish teams had a full round of fixtures, many second-tier leagues across Europe took a break, including Germany’s Bundesliga 2, England’s Championship and France’s Ligue 2, while only one game was played in Italy’s Serie B.
Spain’s domestic programme led to Real Oviedo’s Yoel Barcenas missing Panama’s memorable 1-1 draw with Brazil after his country granted a request from his club to leave him out of the squad so he could play in a derby against Sporting Gijon.
More conflicts lie ahead in June, with playoffs for promotion to Spain’s top flight set to take place at the same time as Euro 2020 qualifiers, the African Cup of Nations, the under-21 European Championship, the Copa America and Gold Cup.
Cadiz coach Alvaro Cervera has led the backlash.
“It’s a laughing matter that the top flight stops so internationals can play with their nations while if you are in Segunda Division you are left without players,” he told a news conference.
“I was missing two of my best players. This is a robbery.”
La Liga’s organising body declined to comment on whether the Segunda Division would consider ending fixtures during the international break.
Such a move would mean more midweek matches or extending the season, which already finishes three weeks later than the top flight with playoff games continuing deep into June.
A spokesman for Segunda Division leaders Osasuna said adopting the international break was not on the agenda but added that the club would not oppose more midweek fixtures in future to accommodate a break.
Midweek games in Spain typically attract lower attendances and television audiences than weekend matches, but Las Palmas sporting director Toni Otero urged the league to consider moving kick-off times to avoid more clashes with international games.
“We need to have a meeting with La Liga. The Segunda could easily play three games per year on Wednesdays, if they do it in La Liga why not in the Segunda,” Otero said.
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris)