In Profile: Ca Osasuna’s Return To The Big Time
CA Osasuna, who’ve deservedly led the LaLiga 1l2l3 standings for most of this season, have now mathematically secured not only promotion to LaLiga Santander but also the LaLiga 1l2l3 title, confirming their place in the Spanish top tier for next season.
Hailing from the northern city of Pamplona and one of LaLiga’s most historic clubs – only 15 other sides have played more season in the top division – Osasuna were founded in 1920 and will fittingly begin their centenary year in the LaLiga Santander.
It hasn’t been long since Los Rojillos were visting the likes of the Camp Nou, Santiago Bernabéu and San Mamés on a regular basis. They last played in the top tier in 2016/17 but finished second-bottom with just 22 points after a difficult season in which they went through three different coaches. But after a creditable eighth-place finish in their first season back in the second tier, the club brought in the experienced Jagoba Arrasate and instantly reaped the rewards, securing an automatic promotion spot with weeks to spare.
How did Osasuna secure automatic promotion?
In Arrasate, they have an experienced coach and someone who knows how to get the most out of his players. The Basque tactician previously coached Real Sociedad, who he guided into the Europa League, and Numancia, who he took to last season’s LaLiga 1l2l3 playoff final where they ultimately lost to R. Valladolid. It’s clear that Arrasate knows what he’s doing on the sidelines; he also, crucially, understands the footballing culture and mentality in northern Spain having represented the likes of Eibar, Portugalete and Amorebieta during his playing career.
“Defence wins championships”
Crucially, Arrasate has built a solid defence as the foundation of Osasuna’s promotion push. The turnaround has been swift and effective; when they were relegated from the top flight two years ago they had the worst defensive record with an average of 2.5 goals conceded per game. This year, however, they boast one of the best defensive records in the league with an average of just 0.8 goals conceded per game.
Their defence has been especially strong at their 18,570–capacity El Sadar home stadium. They’ve won 17 and drawn two of their 19 home fixtures so far in front of their intimidating and passionate home support, conceding just seven goals across those 19 matches. Their ability to win with a clean sheet at home has been key to their charge at the top. Their last nine home results – 2-0, 1-0, 1-0, 1-0, 3-0, 1-0, 2-1, 2-0, 1-0 – give a clear indication of why and how they’ve won promotion so early.
Attacking flair, not just defensive solidity
They’re not all about the defence, though. They’re also the top scorers in the division, netting an average of 1.4 goals per game. For this they have several players to thank. This is far from a one-man job in attack. Roberto Torres has 12 goals, Juan Villar has 11 and Rubén García has chipped in with seven, sharing the scoring burden.
Truly exciting times are ahead for Osasuna. They’re redeveloping their stadium, which would see the capacity rise to around 25,000, and LaLiga Santander will return to Pamplona in 2019/20. It’s a good time to be an Osasuna fan!