Huesca dare to dream of the greatest escape


Huesca are the latest provincial Spanish club to enjoy a remarkable rise through the ranks in recent years. In 2008, they reached the second tier for the first time in their history. In 2017, they recorded their first top half finish in the campaign and, last year, they won promotion to the Primera for the first time ever.

Their first win did not take long – a 2-1 victory at Eibar on the opening day. A rousing comeback the following game against Athletic Bilbao rescued a point at San Mames and, for 13 glorious minutes, they led at the Camp Nou against Barcelona. But they lost that game 8-2 – the second of a 16-match streak in which they could not land a league victory.

They did not have fortune on their side, with seven defeats of a one-goal margin including against Real Madrid and Valencia – whose last-minute winner at the Mestalla appeared to doom Huesca to an immediate return to the Segunda. They had just eight points from their opening 17 matches. Their situation appeared irredeemable.

Game number 18 saw Francisco’s side host Real Betis and despite trailing 1-0, two goals in the space of six second-half minutes earned a rousing victory. But defeat at Leganes and a home loss to Atletico Madrid indicated that the victory over Betis was an exception, rather than the start of an unlikely great escape.

However, a 0-0 draw at Real Sociedad has sparked a run of six matches in which Huesca have lost just once and won three times. They outclassed Real Valladolid 4-0 at home before an eye-catching 2-0 win at Girona while a spirited 1-1 draw at Espanyol was followed by Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Sevilla, secured with a last-minute strike from Ezequiel Avila.

Now Huesca are just one point behind second-from-bottom Rayo Vallecano and only four points from safety. Incredibly, they are only 11 points off Valencia in ninth – a measure of just how congested the Spanish top flight is this campaign. The Aragonese side are rejuvenated and face a defining two-month period, in which they now have everything to play for.

Their next three matches are against sides in La Liga’s top five – Getafe, Real Madrid and Alaves – but still have home ties against struggling Celta Vigo, Eibar and Leganes, alongside a seemingly vital trip to Rayo Vallecano. Huesca still face a huge ask to maintain their top-flight status but now they have momentum and hope. If this La Liga campaign has taught us anything, it is not to rule out the underdog.

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