SPANISH LEAGUE 2018-19: Huesca makes 1st-division debut

MADRID (AP) — The Spanish league begins this weekend with small club Huesca making its first-division debut and traditional teams Rayo Vallecano and Valladolid returning to the top flight.

The three promoted clubs replace Malaga, Las Palmas and Deportivo La Coruna, which were relegated last season.

Girona, Levante and Getafe — the promoted teams two years ago — are all staying in the top tier for another season.

Here’s a look at the new teams in Spain’s first division this season:

HUESCA

After coming close to promotion two years ago, Huesca had another solid campaign this season to finally make it to the first division.

The club from northeastern Spain led the second-tier standings longer than any other team and was among the top three in points for 30 straight rounds.

The historic promotion came with a 2-0 win over Lugo with two matches to go, although it eventually lost the title to Rayo Vallecano.

The club is keeping one of its top players from last season, young Colombian forward Cucho Hernandez, whose loan from Watford was extended for another year.

Huesca had played a total of only eight seasons in the second division before its promotion to the top flight. It failed to make it two seasons ago after being eliminated by Getafe in the first round of the promotion playoffs.

RAYO VALLECANO

The second-division champions will be making their 18th appearance in the first division, becoming the fifth Madrid club in the league this season along with Real Madrid, Getafe, Leganes and Atletico Madrid.

Based in Madrid’s working-class neighborhood of Vallecas, Rayo had played five consecutive years in the first division before being relegated in 2016. It made it back thanks to a great run in the final part of the season, taking first place from Huesca with six matches left.

Rayo’s promotion came with a 1-0 win against Lugo in its second-to-last match.

VALLADOLID

The team based in the city a couple of hours north of Madrid will play in the top flight for the 41st time.

It finished only fifth in the second-division standings but earned promotion by winning a playoff that included Zaragoza, Sporting Gijon and Numancia.

Valladolid defeated Sporting 5-2 on aggregate in the first round of the playoffs, then eliminated Numancia 4-1 after two legs to secure promotion.

The club had last played in the top Spanish league in the 2013-14 season.

Valladolid was fourth in the first division in 1962-63, and sixth in 1988-89.