We continue our preview of the approaching La Liga season, as we look at the fortunes of the remaining teams, including Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid.
Mallorca have slipped into a bit of a rut, as they are unlikely to feature in the drama at either end of the table come the end of the season.
Their squad is far too strong to realistically be in trouble and in Joaquin Caparros, they have a manager too tactically astute to allow them to fall that far.
But despite an idealistic setting, it’s hard to bring players of any real quality to Mallorca and they will be far too weak to upset the likes of Atletico, Sevilla and Valencia for European qualification, especially with the central defensive partnership of Chico and Ivan Ramis having been broken up.
Last Season – 8th
Signings – Antonio Lopez (Atletico Madrid), Javier Arizmendi (Getafe), Javi Marquez (Espanyol), Ruben Mino (Barcelona B)
Star Man – Tomer Hemed
Prediction – Another nice bit of mid-table mediocrity for Mallorca
Another side that punched above their weight last season, Osasuna have endured another summer that has seen their better performers exit Reyno de Navarro.
Top scorer Raul Garcia has gone back to Atletico following his loan spell, while forwards Dejan Lekic and Ibrahima Balde have all been allowed to find pastures new.
The incomings hardly bring excitement levels, but then they didn’t last season as they came so close to breaking into Europe. They will find themselves back in the bottom half this year, but won’t get too close to the drop, due to their imperious home form.
Last Season – 7th
Signings – Nano (Numancia), Sisi (Valladolid), Emiliano Armenteros (Sevilla), Alejandro Arribas (Rayo Vallecano), Joseba Llorente (Real Sociedad)
Star Man – Francisco Nino
Prediction – Back to the bottom half, but safe enough. 12th.
Their survival last season was something of a miracle, with Raul Tamudo’s 90th minute strike seeing them jump out of the bottom three in the last minute of the last day.
However, a summer of seeing most of those big players that allowed them to spend a second season in the big time leave will make that second season all the more difficult, with Michu the most notable name missing from the squad list.
It doesn’t look optimistic for Rayo this season, as most critics and columnists have pencilled them in to fill up the drop zone this year.
Last Season – 15th
Signings – Nicki Billie Nielsen (Villarreal), Jose Carlos (AEK Athens), Adrian Gonzalez (Racing Santander), Ruben Martinez (Malaga/Loan), Jordi Amat (Espanyol/Loan), Alex Galvez (Sporting Gijon), Mohammed Abu (Manchester City/Loan)
Star Man – Adrian Gonzalez
Prediction – I won’t break the mould. Rayo will probably finish bottom.
It was a good reintroduction for Betis last season, as they achieved safety with a few games to spare.
They have not been significantly weakened over the summer, and have brought in a few players of quality to boost their squad.
With teams above them having lost some key players, there is every chance Betis can push on from last season and make the top half their new home.
Last Season – 13th
Signings – Ruben Perez (Atletico Madrid/Loan), Salvador Agra (Olhanense), Joel Campbell (Arsenal/Loan), Juan Carlos Perez (Braga/Loan), Paulao Santos (St Etienne)
Star Man – Ruben Castro
Prediction – Wouldn’t surprise me to see them in the top half, about 9th/10th
It was success at last for Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid, as they toppled Barcelona from the summit and won their first title in four years.
Little has changed over the summer, as their protracted pursuit of Luka Modric has yet to wield their first signing of the summer as we speak.
But little needed to be changed, as Real steamrollered their way to the top last season and it’s hard to look past them in their bid to retain the title, despite attentions now turning to landing that elusive Champions League crown.
Last Season – Champions
Signings – None
Star Man – Cristiano Ronaldo
Prediction – Can see them being champions once more – 1st.
They’ve been steady since their return to the top flight two years ago, not ruffling many feathers, whilst remaining fairly certain of their safety in the meantime.
They have done well to make Carlos Vela’s move to Anoeta permanent after his successful loan spell last season, and a couple of other shrewd bits of business could see them sneak up the table if they can maintain consistency that has eluded them.
They won’t go down, but a nervous tendancy outside of the Basque country will ensure they won’t be talked about as surprise European contenders for very long.
Last Season – 12th
Signings – Chory Castro (Mallorca), Carlos Vela (Arsenal)
Star Man – Inigo Martinez
Prediction – More of the same, possibly the same position.
At the beginning of March, Zaragoza were all but relegated, but somehow put together a miraculous sequence of results to maintain their top flight status for another year.
Manolo Jimenez pulled a masterstroke, but Zara fans would prefer not to be put through a rollercoaster like that again, having suffered for the past two seasons in almost identical fashion.
They’ve made some decent signings, but have also lost key players like Angel Lafita, so they will have to contend with another relegation fight.
Last Season – 16th
Signings – Javi Alamo (Recreativo Huelva), Glenn Loovens (Celtic), Paco Montanes (Alcorcon/Loan), Anthony Vanden Borre (Genk), Franco Zuculini (Hoffenheim), Alvaro Gonzalez (Racing Santander), Lucas Wilchez (Colo Colo/Loan), Recio (Malaga/Loan), Christian Romaric (Sevilla), Apono (Malaga), Lucas Porcar (Villarreal B)
Star Man – Helder Postiga
Predictions – Maybe La Primera will finally be rid of Zaragoza. Narrow relegation.
Sevilla had a bit of a disaster last season, as they changed managers like hats and failed to find any form of inconsistency, meaning they fell well short of the European qualification places that have become the norm for them.
A summer of upheaval was required, allowing them to shift out some of the ageing members of the squad and reinvigorate the side back to the force it was before.
Cicinho will be a player of interest to watch following his underwhelming first stint in Spain with Real Madrid, while some stability has been brought to the back line, with Diego Lopez filling in between the sticks and Hedwiges Maduro shoring up the defence.
Last Season – 9th
Signings – Hedwiges Maduro (Valencia), Diego Lopez (Villarreal), Bryan Rabello (Colo Colo), Geoffrey Kondogbia (Lens), Cicinho (Palmeiras)
Star Man – Jesus Navas
Prediction – Back home inside the top six
Valencia are a curious animal, in that despite the vast financial differences between themselves and the big two, they managed to be unhappy at not competing for the title.
Being the ‘best of the rest’ was not enough for them, So Unai Emery has left the club, as they look to a new start under Mauricio Pellegrino, and a more exciting brand of football.
They will have to make do without Jordi Alba after he moved to Barcelona, while it may prove even more disastrous that Mehmet Topal has moved back to Turkey after an impressive season. They could long for the heady days of third place before too long.
Last Season – 3rd
Signings – Jonathan Viera (Las Palmas), Joao Pereira (Sporting Lisbon), Andres Guardado (Deportivo), Didac Vila (AC Milan/Loan)
Star Man – Roberto Soldado
Prediction – Their hold over third to be broken. Still good enough for fourth though.
A return to the top flight awaits Valladolid, after they came through the play-offs to deny Alcorcon a remarkable place among the greats.
And what a long season it could turn out to be for them. Their captain, Sisi has already jumped ship to Osasuna and they have failed to add anybody with top level calibre to their squad.
It’s nice to see them back, but try not to get too attached, as they will soon be returning to La Segunda.
Last Season – Segunda Play-off winners
Signings – Antonio Rukavina (1860 Munich), Juan Angel Neira (Lanus/Loan), Patrick Ebert (Hertha Berlin), Lluis Sastre (Huesca), Omar Ramos (Huesca/Loan)
Star Man – Abdul Razak
Prediction – Back to whence they came. Going down with a whimper.
Read Part One here: La Liga Preview Season 2012-13: Athletic Bilbao To Malaga
Tags: La Liga, Mallorca, Real Madrid, Valencia