Mérida will fight from the start for second place, but will increase or decrease speed depending on whether or not Cacereño is complying
Mérida will start the clash in Las Palmas this Sunday with an eleven that is as hybrid as it is competitive. They will go, from the beginning, with the intention of climbing one more position in the table and finishing the regular phase as group runner-up. But then, as the minutes go by, it will pull transistors or the results app and manage its version on the fly: if the Cacereño is puncturing, it will put the highest gear it can put in and… if the Cacereño is complying, it will let go. Because the important thing, Juanma Barrero has already repeated it both actively and passively this last week, is to arrive “in conditions” for next week’s playoff in Alicante. And “fit” means with as few injuries and penalties as possible and physically at a high level. And there is nothing more to intuit.
The Merida team traveled yesterday with up to five very important casualties from the first team: the injured Héctor Camps, Emilio Cubo, Mario Robles and Álvaro Ramón were joined by Higor Rocha, warned with four yellow cards. So Juanma Barrero will mix very regular players with less usual footballers. “There are people I would like to take a bit of the load off of, but I also want to line up a competitive ‘eleven’ that can go for the game. In other words, I will mix players who have not been so common with players who have many kilometers behind their backs. And if we do that, it is because we understand that their physical integrity is not in danger: they are used to making such efforts.
It will therefore be the day to see guys like Ebuka play more minutes, probably on the left back, Pedro Lagoa and Gaspar helping Goma or Artiles and Carmelo Merenciano in midfield to give rest to Guille Perero or Diego López. And if Juanma Barrero doesn’t dare to line up two forwards, either Lolo Pla or Aitor Pons will rest.
Opposite awaits a rival that absolutely nothing is at stake: the Las Palmas subsidiary has been relegated for two weeks. “But we have analyzed and studied it equally because that is what our job is for,” the Mérida coach puts crumbs in the match. The yellows face the end after six days without winning. “They play very Canarian football: they play from behind, they team up, they use the goalkeeper a lot, and they are technically very good and dynamic players. This of not playing anything can be good for them because they risk a lot in certain passing areas and without pressure they will play more liberated. If they get past the first line of pressure, they speed up the game a lot with fast people on the outside. Their weakness is the youth they treasure, which sometimes makes them compete without the experience that other teams do have », he continues.
Nothing was at stake two weeks ago against Cacereño, and although in the end they lost in the final stretch of the match, the yellow team competed and beat Julio Cobos’ team for much of the match. And a game very similar to that is what the Mérida coaching staff is waiting for before sitting down together to wait for the playoff ball on Monday morning.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.