Relegation Battle Royale for La U, Grecia and Santos

The big three—Alajuelense, Saprissa and Herediano—get the majority of coverage in Costa Rica. Ninety-one combined titles will do that.

But there’s plenty of intrigue at the bottom of the accumulated table this season.

Grecia, Santos and La U enter the final seven rounds of the season in a relegation scrap. Six points from safety, La U finds itself in the deepest trouble, but it’s not an insurmountable hole for the club to climb out of.

You can ask Carmelita that.

With the season set to restart, this is where the relegation battle stands for three clubs desperate to survive.

Note: Costa Rica relegates the team with the lowest point total from the winter and spring season combined. Each club has its point total from the joint table listed.

Santos (38 Points)

Date Fixture
Jornada 16 @ La U
Jornada 17 vs. Saprissa
Jornada 18 @ San Carlos
Jornada 19 @ Herediano
Jornada 20 vs. Perez Zeledon
Jornada 21 @ Alajuelense
Jornada 22 vs. Limon

For Santos, remaining in the first division is simple: don’t lose to La U in the first game of the post-coronavirus break. If not for the Clasico de Buen Futbol between Saprissa and Herediano, this would be the premier fixture of the Jornada.

Fortunately for Santos, the club can afford to drop points along the way. Despite fixtures against the top three clubs in the table—plus a visit to San Carlos—hosting Perez Zeledon and Limon in June provide an escape. 

Assuming the worst-case scenario—Santos lose six games in a row—hosting the Clasico del Caribe in the last Jornada isn’t a bad way to stave off relegation.

Grecia (36 Points)

Date Fixture
Jornada 16 vs. Perez Zeledon
Jornada 17 @ Jicaral
Jornada 18 vs. Alajuelense
Jornada 19 vs. Guadalupe
Jornada 20 @ Limon
Jornada 21 @ Saprissa
Jornada 22 vs. San Carlos

The good news for Grecia: they are six points clear of relegation.

The bad news for Grecia: they might not win another game all season.

Hosting Perez Zeledon is the most winnable fixture remaining for Los Griegos. Grecia won the reverse fixture 4-1 back in January. It’s all downhill from there. 

Five of the subsequent six fixtures are against teams looking to play in the Cuadrangular. Even a visit to Limon on Jun. 2 isn’t an easy task. At this point, nothing is an easy task for Grecia. That’s why the club finds itself in this position in the first place. 

Three points after a two month break due to a deadly virus consuming the planet is a tough ask, but it’s a non-starter if Grecia wants to remain in the first division.

La U (30 Points)

Date Fixture
Jornada 16 vs. Santos
Jornada 17 @ Limon
Jornada 18 vs. Herediano
Jornada 19 @ Jicaral
Jornada 20 vs. San Carlos
Jornada 21 @ Perez Zeledon
Jornada 22 vs. Saprissa

If you were looking to stave off relegation, you couldn’t ask for a better restart to the season than this: back-to-back fixtures with two of the three teams above you. That’s exactly what La U has in its favor.

Any combination of points will resuscitate what was supposed to be a lost cause.

A brutal stretch run follows, with three fixtures against title contenders. Follow that with a trip to Perez Zeledon, and La U will be sweating bullets entering the final week of the season.

The saving grace: player rotation.

While Saprissa strikes the fear of God into anyone facing relegation, this might be a weakened foe La U faces. Saprissa has the potential of being crowned the regular season winner entering the last round, allowing Walter Centeno to rotate his squad. That’s a major key considering the league is playing a Sunday-Wednesday schedule for three consecutive weeks. 

If it gets to that point, La U has everything in its favor to pull off the greatest of escapes.

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