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Gibraltar National League: The Christmas run-in

With nearly two-thirds of the first round of fixtures already taking place, and only 24 matches left before the National League splits in two at Christmas, we look at where each of the 12 teams are, and their chances of reaching the top 6 by Christmas and the end of the first round.

Photo © C Correa Photography

1st Place – Lincoln Red Imps – 18 points – 4 games left

100% they will be in the Championship Group. Lincoln’s opening-day loss to Europa has been forgotten about by the side, who have won their next six in a row. The only major challenge left before Christmas will be against St Joseph’s – three points would be important as well as set a market to the rest of the league.

2nd Place – St Joseph’s FC – 17 points – 4 games left

Like Lincoln, Saints will be in the top six. The late draw vs Lynx wasn’t ideal, but St Joseph’s have been good this season and are threatening to make the title-race a three-team affair. As long as they keep the front two of Juanfri and Boro fit and firing, Saints are a match for anyone – a result vs Lincoln before the New Year would be a massive statement of intention.

3rd Place – Europa FC – 16 points – 5 games left

Again, Europa are one of the teams definitely going to the Championship Group. Bar a dramatic draw vs St Joseph’s, Europa have rarely looked troubled all season and if they see through the game vs Lynx with no hiccups, they are likely to be top come the split. January will be interesting for Europa – do they stick with the squad that has served them so well so far, or add one or two players in the window who may potentially be the difference between a title and no title?

4th Place – Bruno’s Magpies – 15 points – 3 games left

Magpies should really be safe now. A little wobble with three defeats in a row raised some doubts over the side, but the back-to-back wins vs Europa Point and Boca means they should get over the line at Christmas. They have hard fixtures vs Lincoln and St Joseph’s to come, but by the time they face Manchester in their last game, we’d be surprised if their top six spot wasn’t mathematically secured. The challenge will be whether they invest even further on new players in January, especially with new manager Alfonso Cortijo undoubtedly wanting some of his own players in.

5th Place – Lynx FC – 14 points – 4 games left

Lynx have a fairly nice run-in in which to accumulate points before the Championship Group, which they seem certain to get into. If they can ensure 7 to 9 points against Manchester, College and Glacis, then Albert Parody’s side will be in a healthy position post-Christmas – the draw vs St Joseph’s showed they can make life difficult for the top three as well and teams won’t necessarily want to play them.

6th Place – Mons Calpe SC – 11 points – 3 games left

Having points on the board is traditionally better than games in hand, as the cliché goes, but it looks like going to the wire for Mons Calpe. Two of their last three games are against St Joseph’s and Europa, making the match vs Manchester 62 a must-win. Even then, 14 points isn’t guaranteed to be enough. They were stubborn vs Lincoln though, and there is every chance of nicking a result against one of the current top 3, but if they don’t, it will be a nervy end to the year for Leo Vela’s side.

7th Place – Manchester 62 – 7 points – 5 games left

Looking purely at the table, you’d say Manchester have the best chance of jumping into the top six from the bottom six sides. However, only one of their last five games is versus a team below them, which make new manager David Wilson’s task that bit tougher. The big two games will be against Mons Calpe and Europa Point – especially the game against Mons – if they can beat the team above them on the 30th November, and follow it with a win vs Europa Point, then they may have a chance of top six, depending on other results.

8th Place – FC Boca Gibraltar – 6 points – 4 games left

Boca aren’t in a bad position table wise, but the fixtures are not too kind to them, given they face Europa and Lincoln in their next two matches. After that though, they’ll need to beat Glacis in order to set up a tantalising final round game vs Lions. Talk of off-the-field issues at the club will need to be shaken off as soon as possible if the club wants to take that sixth spot and work from there in 2020.

9th Place – Lions Gibraltar – 6 points – 4 games left

Whisper it quietly, but Lions could have a chance of sneaking into the top six while no one is watching them. The win against Manchester was vital, not just because it was their first of the season, but because it kept their Championship Group hopes alive. Three of their remaining four games are against fellow bottom six sides, including matches vs Glacis and College, while their final game against Boca could be a winner-takes-all fixture depending on how Mons finish. Albert Ferri has made his team more resolute defensively; if they can improve on their poor scoring form so far, then we may see last season’s 9th place team end in 6th.

10th Place – Europa Point FC – 5 points – 3 games left

Despite only being a point behind Lions and Boca, and only two off Manchester, the lack of games left for Europa Point means that a top six finish in truth seems unlikely. To achieve this, the side would have to beat Manchester and College, while most likely also getting a surprise result against St Joseph’s too. Even then, they would still be relying on other team’s results going in their favour – it isn’t looking promising for Allen Bula’s side.

11th Place – Glacis United FC – 3 points – 5 games left

Glacis have slowly built themselves back up after a heavily disrupted start to the season, and while qualifying for the Championship Group does seem beyond them, they could still have an influence on who does make the top 6. Games against Boca and especially Lions will be tight affairs and if Glacis can take points off those teams, the likes of Manchester and Mons Calpe would be the most likely beneficiaries.

12th Place – College 1975 FC – 0 points – 4 games left

Although mathematically still possible, it is safe to say College are not qualifying for the top 6. Without so much as a point yet this season, they have been up against it from the first gameweek, and realistically these last four games should be used to try and improve where possible ahead of going into the Challenge Group, where hopefully they won’t be on the end of results such as the 12-0 and 9-1 they have suffered in recent weeks.

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