LIVESTREAM Spain: Badalona Dracs @ L’Hospitalet Pioners, Jan. 15, 15:00 CET (3 pm, 9 am ET)

The Spanish National League of American Football kicks off the 2022 season with the defending champion Badalona Dracs on the road as they face newly promoted L’Hospitalet Pioners, Saturday, January 15 at Estadi La Feixa Llarga stadium.

The Pioners, winners of five Spanish titles (2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013) will play host to the Dracs, winners of the last five Spanish championships and 11 overall. The Pioners enter the game with a new head coach – Albert Fernández – who replaces Bart Iaccarino. He will have a bevy of new players including his starting quarterback as Murdock B. Rutledge (University of Puget Sound) steps in.  Fernández has recruited wide receiver Julien Berhaul from France, offensive linemen Gabriel Raeder Palmeira, Joao Víctor Correia Sánchez and Lucas Soares Da Silva, all from Brazilian semifinalist, Belo Horizonte Galo, as well as Argentinian linebacker Gonzalo Bonnin (Argentona Bocs). Former Barcelona Dragons, wide receivers Jaume Llinás and Jordi Torrededía along with running back Elías Rodríguez, give the Pioners a formidable lineup.

For Badalona Dracs head coach Oscar Calatayud, the off season has been tough with a number of retirements from the championship squad. Still, the addition of mobile quarterback Glen Cuiellette (Texas Southern) along with running back Hunter Belzo (University of Springfield) will give the Dracs an impressive backfield. Add wide receiver Rafael Hidalgo (University of New Mexico) and the offense will explosive potential. Linebacker Patrick Kenney (Bryant University) joins a defense that allowed a league-best 12.1 points a game in 2021.

This game could be closer than it looks. The Pioners have recruited heavily in preparation for the step up into the elite division after a four-year absence. Meanwhile, although Badalona’s imports look impressive, it will be the core Spanish players who have been asked to fill the holes left by the departures of key players who will make the difference.

Kickoff is 15:00 CET (3 pm, 9 am ET).

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