From Almería to MallorcaAlmería
And so the Horned One arises - the club supported by Lucifer himself, David Bisbal
, claws its way back into the Primera after twenty six years of Peter Cushing inspired banishment. But it is going to be a short stay. With a defence packed with Real Sociedad and Getafe rejects, Almería are going to be bottom of the pile come May.
Key Man - Almería are relying on the goals of former Real Madrid Castilla striker, Alvaro Negredo, to keep them up. Considering his last team were relegated to the Segunda B, the omens are not good.
Prediction - 20th (relegated)Athletic Bilbao
The new season sees yet another president and yet another manager for Athletic Bilbao, the universe's most peculiar club. The permanently sleep-deprived, Joaquín Caparrós, has been brought in to avoid the relegation dramatics of previous years and he should succeed. But it won't be pretty to watch. Espanyol's highly rated Gorka Iraizoz is set to start in goal and Sevilla's Aitor Ocio has been drafted in to shore up last season's calamitous defence.
Key Man - Fran Yeste. Set to miss the start of the season - the club stalled on a decision to patch up his dicky groin - Yeste, when fit, is one of classiest midfielders outside of the top six.
Prediction - 12thAtletico Madrid
Here we go again. Millions spent - check. Ambitious talk - check. Dodgy defence - check. But this time things are going to be different for Atletico. An attack featuring the talents of Simao, Forlán, Aguero, Luis García, Maxi, Reyes and Maniche (don't snigger) backed with the swashbuckling Raul Garcia in midfield simply cannot fail. Or can it?
Key Man - Diego Forlán. Within two months, it will be "Fernando who?" from the rojiblanco
Prediction - 4thBarcelona
The city's entire infrastructure may have collapsed over the summer, in a tremendous cloud of blame-assigning, finger pointing and pot banging, that the Spanish do best, but the club has been as solid as a rock. Or has it? On paper, all the problem areas on the pitch have been fixed - a decent left back (Abidal), a partner for Puyol (Milito), someone who can tackle (Yaya Touré) and a rather handy attacking reinforcement (Henry).
With injuries, suspensions, d'inho fancying a crafty fag break and the African Nations cup, the debate over how to play the Fantastic Four at the same time is a false one. The real issue is how to balance the midfield and keep every one (i.e. Deco) happy.
Barcelona's main weakness is the very real fear of a Galactico-style implosion. And it's for this reason that the club have set up a weekly committee that will sit and review the on and off pitch behaviour of all the squad. Something the players are sure to enjoy.
Key Man - Yaya Touré. Set to be the buy of the season and the man to add a bit of lead into Barcelona's football pencil.
Prediction - Champions.Betis
Betis will be hard pushed to have a season as wretched as the last two. And with tough nut "I smile sometimes" Héctor Cúper in charge, it is a fate that they should avoid. On the transfer front, a few wasters have either been kicked out (Robert, Pancrate) or parked at Cadiz (Dani, Contreras). Coming in is a proper goal keeper, Ricardo, and a new left flank in the shape of Marko Babic from Leverkeusen and Liverpool's Mark Gonzalez. The bad news is that de Lopera and his huskies have not yet been run of town.
Key man - Up front, Betis have brought in "the tank", Mariano Pavone, from Estudiantes. They will be hoping he is more Oliveira than Sobis, in front of goal.
Prediction - 11th
note in their pre season review that if Deportivo do not bore the arse of either their opponents, themselves or their fans, then it would be a great season. For once, La Liga Loca
concurs. However, the club are in a dreadful downward spiral. Players remain unpaid, debts are piling up and relegation battle specialist Miguel Angel Lotina has been brought it for the inevitable season long struggle against the drop.
Key men - Juan Carlos Valerón. The club should throw the permanently crocked midfielder onto the pitch, no matter what state his knee is in. Can't do any worse than the existing bunch of half-wits.
Prediction - 17thEspanyol
Yet, again, Espanyol's challenge this season will be to keep their three big cheeses happy - Ivan de la Peña, Raul Tamudo and Luis García. Colouring books should do the trick. If they succeed, the Catalans could push for UEFA cup spot. The new signings have not exactly set perico
pulses running, but there is enough talent in the squad to have a good season.
Key man - Raul Tamudo. Nearly went to Villarreal, but looks like he should be hanging around at the delightful Montjuic a little bit longer.
Prediction - 9thGetafe
Whither Getafe? The club has now lost Bernd Schuster after his constant grumbling delivered him the poisoned chalice of managing Real Madrid. And they have a UEFA cup run to content with, after their Copa del Rey final finish. Michael Laudrup has been brought in after a decent spell at Brondby and a strong pre season combined with handy reinforcements in Kepa and Uche up front and the next big thing in goal, Oscar Ustari, suggest that sporting director, Santiago Llorente's fears of a European distraction will remain unfounded.
Key Man - Francisco Casquero - lead a one man battle for the goal of the season, last time round.
Prediction - 10thLevante
Now Ian Harte-less, but still perhaps the least favourite side of may of the blog's readers due to their fouling and alleged bribe paying ways. For once, the management have restrained themselves from sacking their coach - a rarity - and Abel Resino remains in the post. His team are a mixture of grisly old veterans and imports from all over the world. And, yet again, they will be horrible to watch.
Key Man - Shota Arveladze. Yes - Levante's goal scoring hopes lie at the feet of the former Rangers forward. Mallorca
Six months ago, Mallorca were tedium on toast. Mid-table mediocrity. Watching them hack their away around the pitch was as pleasurable as sitting through any show broadcast by Telecinco. But then something changed, Gregorio Manzano turned his team into almost invincible goliaths at home and very nearly put the skids under Real Madrid's title dreams on the last day of the season.
This time round, a Mallorca an attacking line up of Ibagaza, Arango, Jonás, Wébo and Guiza, should see the Balearic battlers picking up where they left off.
Key Man - Dani Guiza. A tiresome whiner, but a solid striker returns to his old club after six year absence.
Prediction - 7th
In my humble opinion, Madrid's problem is not lack of talent at any position, or poor coaching, or their style, or any other football-related issue. Rather, it's the team's inability to sit still.
How many new signings have Real Madrid made in the last six years? Ronaldo, Beckham, Walter Samuel, Robinho, Sergio Ramos, Pablo Garcia, Diogo, Baptista, Cannavaro, Cicinho, Michael Owen, Drenthe, Gravesen, Woodgate, Van Nistelrooy, Gago, Higuain, Saviola, Sneijder, Pepe, Diarra, Emerson, Reyes, Dudek. How many managers? Del Bosque, Garcia Remon, Queiroz, Lopez Caro, Camacho, Luxemburgo, Capello, and Schuster.
24 new players and 8 managers in six years. It might not be an exaggeration to say they have had the greatest amount of turnover for any major club in history.
Why? Real Madrid was spectacular six years ago. Now they're crap. Back then their core team of Casillas, Raul, Morientes, Roberto Carlos, Salgado, Hierro, and Helguera had been playing under one manager, Del Bosque for years together. Each year Florentino signed one or two players to add to the core. Now, it's a complete liquidation every six months. Players don't have time to adjust to one another's style, and so they don't improve. As soon as they adjust, they start from scratch again. It's so bad even success cannot save you at Real Madrid, as the club has fired the last two trainers to bring home hardware -- Del Bosque and Capello.
The front page of Marca.com tells me that "Milito es la solucion!" Milito isn't the solution. Consistency is.
And Your Questions Answered...
the self-important, silverware-free, village of norf london, from where i write, is very much concerned with whether mr ramos will be coming to take over our local hotspurs. the spurs board (esp levy) definitely seem to want to dump martin jol, against the wishes of virtually all fans, but no movement so far. what are juan de's doubts? does he recognise that tottenham carry an atletico-style curse upon their heads? any intelligence welcome.
a village idiotIt looks like Ramos is staying put and seeing out his contract at Sevilla, which expires in June. After that? Who knows
- La Liga Loca
I am a big fan, though i only began reading your blog during last years liga.
you bring a hysterical view to the games, and in footy deprived canada, it is one of my few options to read.
however, i have to ask, who is your team?
your supporter!Ipswich Town. And I am a one team man - La Liga Loca
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