La Liga Preview 2011-12 season

Can they repeat this feat?

The images of last season when Barca lifted their 21st league title must be haunting Jose Mourinho as he attempts to bring the La Liga crown back to the capital.

The oil money from the middle east is lighting up Andalusia with the Malaga project.

Can Betis, Granada and Rayo Vallencano keep their La Liga status?

The Spanish La Liga is back!  A strike called by AFE for the suspension of the first two jornadas has been called off so we won’t worry about any delay of the La Liga kickoff.

This preview is divided into segments just like the way the league itself. The top two gladiators as title contenders, the battle for the remaining European places and the bottom three or relegation candidates.

The top two.

BARCELONA   (finished 1st last season)

Transfers in:  Henrique (loan return, Racing Santander), Victor Sanchez (loan return, Getafe), Keirrison (loan return, Santos), Isaac Cuenca (loan return, CE Sabadell), Alexander Hleb (loan return, Birmingham City), Marti Riverola (loan return, Vitesse Arnhem), Alexis Sanchez (€26m, Udinese), Kiko Femenia (€2m, Almeria), Cesc Fabregas (€29m, Arsenal)

Transfers out: Martin Caceres (€3m, Sevilla), Bojan Krkic (€12m, AS Roma), Oriol Romeu (€5.1m, Chelsea), Jeffren Suarez (€5m, Sporting Lisbon), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (€24m, AC Milan), Henrique (loan, Palmeiras), Gabriel Milito (free, CA Independiente), Victor Sanchez (free, Neuchatel Xamax), Nolito (free, Benfica), Victor Vazquez (free, Club Brugge), Edu Oriol (free, Real Zaragoza), Keirrison (loan, Cruzeiro)

Barcelona will no doubt be the team to beat in the upcoming La Liga season. The Catalan giants retained their Spanish league crown last season and only recently won the Super Coppa de Espana in this season’s curtain raiser and just last night added the European Super Cup to their already swelling rank of trophies this season against FC Porto.
The arrival of Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas will only compliment an already brilliant squad. Thiago Alcantara and Fontas promotion to the senior side is sure to give enough competition and healthy balance to Pep Guardiola team.
Leo Messi will no doubt be the player to watch this season as he proved to be the difference between the Blaugranas and the Blancos in the Super Cup.
Barcelona know eternal rivals (Real Madrid) are the only side who can stop them from making it four in row. Consistency during the course of the season is the determining factor to winning the La Liga crown again.

REAL MADRID   (finished 2nd last season)

Transfers in:  Royston Drenthe (loan return, Hercules CF), David Mateos (loan return, AEK Athens), Nuri Sahin (€10m, Borussia Dortmund), Hamit Altintop (free, Bayern Munich), Jose Callejon (€5.5m, Espanyol), Raphael Varane (€10m, RC Lens), Fabio Coentrao (€30m, Benfica)

Transfers out:  Emmanuel Adebayor (loan return, Manchester City), Sergio Canales (loan, Valencia), David Mateos (loan, Real Zaragoza), Pablo Sarabia (€3m, Getafe), Ezequiel Garay (€5.5m, Benfica), Juan Carlos Perez (€2.5m, Real Zaragoza)

With total football control at his helm, Jose Mourinho’s excuse for not delivering the league title this season could be – air, fire and water. The Super Coppa de Espana served as a great appetizer and provided Los Merengues an opportunity to show the world  how much progress has been made considering it was the same team that lost 5-0 to Los Cules less than a year ago. Real Madrid have created a healthy competition in their squad with two players in each position. Coentrao, Sahin, Altintop, Callejon and Varane joined in the summer. The integration of the team as a whole was evident during the summer title challenge (Super Cup). Mourinho knows that very little detail in the clasicos and consistency against the remaining 18 teams is all that stands between his men-in-white and their 32nd league title.
Madrid has all it takes to be crowned champions come May 2012.

The Battle for European places.

VALENCIA   (finished 3rd last season)

Transfers in: Michel (loan return, Deportivo La Coruna), Asier del Horno (loan return, Levante), Aaron Niguez (loan return, Recreativo Huelva), Manuel Fernandes (loan return, Besiktas), Renan Brito (loan return, Internacional), Stephen Sunday (loan return, Numancia), Sofiane Feghouli (loan return, Almeria), Sergio Canales (loan, Real Madrid), Cristiano Pereira (free, Sporting Braga), Diego Alves (€3m, Almeria), Daniel Parejo (€5m, Getafe), Pablo Piatti (€8m, Almeria), Anthony Lozano (free, C.D. Olimpia)

Transfers out: Marius Stankevicius (loan return, Sampdoria), Cesar Sanchez (free, Villarreal), Miguel Angel Moya (loan, Getafe), Michel (loan, Hercules CF), Asier del Horno (free, Levante), Nacho Gonzalez (free, Standard Liege), David Navarro (free, Neuchatel Xamax), Aaron Niguez (free, Almeria), Renan Brito (free, Internacional), Stephen Sunday (free, Numancia), Alejandro Dominguez (loan, River Plate), Isco (€6m, Malaga), Joaquin (€4.2m, Malaga), Manuel Fernandes (€2m, Besiktas), Anthony Lozano (loan, CD Alcoyano), Juan Mata (€26.7m, Chelsea)

Los Che have steadied their ship after the financial instability of a few years ago. Unai Emery knows his team will be crowned champions if Barcelona and Real Madrid are excluded from any La Liga campaign but since that won’t happen, he’ll be more than satisfied to lead the remaining charge. Another season in Europe (UCL) means extra revenue for the club and with his experience of last season, Valencia will be hoping to make the most of it and push for a quarter-final position while maintaining their good form in the La Liga. The arrival quality young players like Canales, Piatti and Dani Parejo will help them secure another top-four finish. Juan Manuel Mata’s exit is a big blow

VILLARREAL   (finished 4th last season)

Transfers in: Ivan Marcano (loan return, Getafe), Jefferson Montero (loan return, Levante), Jozy Altidore (loan return, Bursaspor), Cristobal Marquez (loan return, Elche), Cristian Zapata (€7m, Udinese), Javier Camunas (€2.3m, Osasuna), Florian Lejeune (€1m, Istres), Edu Ramos (free, Malaga), Cesar Sanchez (free, Valencia)

Transfers out: Cicinho (loan return, AS Roma), Juan Carlos Sanchez (loan, Elche CF), Salva Perez (loan, FC Cartagena), Ivan Marcano (loan, Olympiakos), Jefferson Montero (loan, Real Betis), Robert Flores (free, Litex Lovech), Cristobal Marquez (free, Karpaty Lviv), Joan Capdevila (free, Benfica), Jozy Altidore (free, AZ Alkmaar), Natxo Insa (free, Celta Vigo), Santi Cazorla (€19m, Malaga), Javier Matilla (€1.2m, Real Betis)

The Yellow Submarines embark on another adventurous campaign with european distraction. This time, it’s the big one (UCL). The Europa league semi-finalist have lost inspirational midfield man Santi Cazorla to Malaga.

Villarreal haven’t replaced the Spanish international and will struggle to cope with the rigor of the league as well as Champions League.
Every time Villarreal play in the UCL, they  struggle on the home-front to make the top-four. It’s interesting to see how Juan Carlos Garrido and his team performs come May with Malaga, Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid all pushing for the final UCL position as well.

MALAGA   (finished 11th last season)

Transfers in: Xavi Torres (loan return, Levante), Jordi Pablo (loan return, FC Cartagena), Daniel Toribio (loan return, SD Ponferradina), David Gonzalez (loan return, Cadiz), Edu Ramos (loan return, CD Leganes), Diego Buonanotte (loan return, River Plate), Edinho (loan return, C.S. Maritimo), Martin Demichelis (€3m, Bayern Munich), Ruud van Nistelrooy (free, Hamburg SV), Joris Mathijsen (€1m, Hamburg SV), Nacho Monreal (€6m, Osasuna), Jeremy Toulalan (€10m, Lyon), Sergio Sanchez (€2.8m, Sevilla), Joaquin (€4.2m, Valencia), Isco (€6m, Valencia), Santi Cazorla (€19m, Villarreal)

Transfers out: Quincy Owusu-Abeyie (loan return, Al-Sadd SC), Sergio Asenjo (loan return, Atletico Madrid), Javi Lopez (free, Real Jaen), Edu Ramos (free, Villarreal), David Gonzalez (free, Real Oviedo Vetusta), Manu Torres (free, FC Cartagena), Sandro Silva (loan, Internacional), Xavi Torres (loan, Levante), Rodrigo Galatto (free, Neuchatel Xamax), Manolo Gaspar (free, FC Cartagena)

Los Boquerones could be the surprise package of the season after investing heavily this summer. The new cash money of La Liga raised eyebrows with their transfer acquisitions which include Jeremy Toulalan, Joaquin Sanchez, Ruud van Nistelrooy, record signing Santiago Cazorla and  many more. Coach Manuel Pellegrini has been given the task of delivering success to the club.
The Malaga squad is well balanced with the new players fitting in well(results during preseason) but it remains to see how The Engineer selects his preferred starting XI
Challenging for the league title is a mountain too high for Malaga this term but a shot at European places is achievable.

Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid are amongst the European places contenders too.

Athletic club start the new campaign with a new president and coach. Bielsa has managed to keep his Basque stars off the radar of raiding clubs. Consolidating on their top-six finish of last season will be the ultimate task for the Argentine who has promised to electrify San Mames.

Sevilla have rediscovered themselves in the close season. Marcelino’s appointment is expected to bring usher in new enthusiasm as the new season begins. Transfer guru Monchi has been busy in the close season trying to bring in new faces (Piotr Trochowski and Manu del Mora) to improve the squad.
Los nervionenses should maintain their last season finish or go one better.

Atletico will keep off the season with a new man in the dug-out. The departure of Diego Forlan to Inter combined with that of Kun Aguero and De Gea to England has weakened the substandard Madrid side but for all their loses in the playing personnel, they have a good coach in Gregorio Manzano to lead them this season. He will be the key to how Atletico perform this season. The arrival of Colombian goal machine Radamel Falcao from Porto will be vital.

The scrape zone.

This zone includes the last three teams in La Liga last season as well as the three newly promoted sides from the Segunda.

REAL SOCIEDAD   (finished 15th last season)

Transfers In: Inigo Sarasola (loan return, Real Union), Borja Viguera (loan return, Gimnastic de Tarragona), Carlos Vela (loan, Arsenal), McDonald Mariga (loan, Inter Milan)

Transfers Out: Francisco Sutil (free, Real Murcia), Mikel Orbegozo (free, Athletic Bilbao), Diego Rivas (free, Hercules CF), Mikel Labaka (free, Rayo Vallecano), Raul Tamudo (free, Rayo Vallecano)

Real Sociedad might be in for a long season with the shocking decision to sack Martin Lasarte last season after securing promotion to the La Liga and keeping them there.  His replacement, Philippe Montainer has built for himself a decent reputation in France, it remains to see how he’ll perform in Spain. Striker Joseba Llorente fitness is key to how many goals the Basque team will score. Carlos Vela has arrived on loan from Arsenal to bolster their attacking options with veteran playmaker Xabi Prieto and French winger Antoine Griezmann expected to provide the quality services.
La Real will struggle but might just nick it through once again.

GETAFE   (finished 16th last season)

Transfers In: Michelangelo Albertazzi (loan, AC Milan), Miguel Angel Moya (loan, Valencia), Diego Castro (free, Sporting Gijon), Mehdi Lacen (free, Racing Santander), Juan Rodriguez (free, Deportivo La Coruna), Alberto Lopo (free, Deportivo La Coruna), Tomeu Nadal (free, Mallorca), Pablo Sarabia (€3m, Real Madrid), Maykon (free, Pacos de Ferreira), Juan Valera (free, Atletico Madrid), Tsepo Masilela (loan, Maccabi Haifa), Daniel Guiza (free, Fenerbahce), Ruben Perez (free, Atletico Madrid)

Transfers Out: Javier Arizmendi (loan, Neuchatel Xamax), Mario Alvarez (free, Real Betis), Ivan Marcano (loan return,Villarreal), Victor Sanchez (loan return, Barcelona), Derek Boateng (€6m, Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk), Daniel Parejo (€5m, Valencia), Manu del Moral (€4.5m, Sevilla), Juan Angel Albin (€3m, Espanyol), Miguel Pallardo (€200k, Levante), Adrian Sardinero (loan, Hercules CF), Borja Fernandez (free, Deportivo La Coruna)

Azulones’ best move this summer is the appointment of former Levante coach, Luis Garica Plaza. The new boss is known to always get the best out of his team and that’s what Getafe need after all the trouble of last season.
Royal Emirates Group of Companies acquired the club last season with club president Angel Torres promising not to sell their best players to balance the books but Dani Parejo, one of their most reliable and influential player last season  has since moved on to Valencia.
A €3 million transfer on former Real Madrid Castilla player, Pablo Sarabia appears to be the major transfer so far with a couple of shrewd Bosman transfers in the mould of Alberto Lopo and Juan Rodriguez.
El Geta have snapped former pichichi winner Dani Guiza who is on his second spell at the club to get them goals. A better season should be on the horizon at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez woth Luis Garcia in the dugout.

RCD MALLORCA   (finished 17th last season)

Transfers In: Chico (loan, Genoa), Juan Calatayud (free, Hercules CF), Pablo Caceres (free, CA Tigre), Gianna Zuiverloon (free, West Bromwich Albion), Tomer Hemed (free, Maccabi Haifa), Oscar Trejo (loan return, Rayo Vallecano), Javi Castellano (loan return, Real Union), Tuni (loan return, Gimnastic de Tarragona)

Transfers Out: Ruben Gonzalez (free, Osasuna), German Lux (free, Deportivo La Coruna), Enrique Corrales (free, Granada), Tomeu Nadal (free, Getafe), Ayoze Diaz (free, Deportivo La Coruna), Javi Castellano (loan, UD Las Palmas), Sergi Enrich (loan, Recreativo Huelva), Ruben Gonzalez (free, Osasuna), Pierre Webo (€1.25m, Eskisehirspor)

Laudrup’s claim of having a better season than last season reminds me of Steve Kean’s optimism at Blackburn Rovers. After miraculously beating the drop on the final day last term, Los Bermellones have barely strengthen. Pierre Achille Webo, who has been Mallorca’s dependable man for goals since Dani Guiza’s exit departed the Balearic island this summer, this is probably the biggest blow to hit Michael Laudrup’s team.
With the transfer window winding down and with very little activity going on at the club in terms of transfers, coach Laudrup’s optimism might not be enough to safe Els Barralets. Another long season at the Iberostar stadium in Palma.

REAL BETIS   (1st in Segunda division)

Transfers In: Antonio Sanchez (loan return, Albacete), Mariano Pavone (loan return, River Plate), Nelson (loan return, Osasuna), Juande (loan return, Granada), Rodri (loan return, FC Cartagena), Javier Matilla (€1.2m, Villarreal), Jefferson Montero (loan, Villarreal), Fabricio Agosto (free, Valladolid), Javier Chica (free, Espanyol), Mario Alvarez (free, Getafe), Antonio Amaya (free, Wigan Athletic), Ustaritz Aldekoaotalora (loan, Athletic Bilbao)

Transfers Out: Roversio (loan return, Osasuna), Miguel Lopez (loan return, FC Porto), David Odonkor (free, Karlsruhe), Fran No (free, Valladolid), Israel (free, Xerez CD), Achille Emana (€4.5m, Al-Hilal FC), Antonio Sanchez (loan, SD Huesca)

The Sevilla side are back to the top flight after being away in the last two seasons.
Under new President Miguel Guillen, the cash strapped Verdiblancos have sold their Cameroon star Achille Emana to Al-Hilal and struggled to bring in new faces in.
Coach Pepe Mel has a massive task at hand as they begin life in the primera liga with an uncertain future. Avoiding the drop will be a miracle for the Andalusia based club.

RAYO VALLENCANO   (2nd in Segunda division)

Transfers In: Sueliton Pereira (free, EC Sao Jose), Juan Quero (loan return, UD Las Palmas), Marco Torsiglieri (loan, Sporting Lisbon), Alberto Perea (free, Atletico Madrid), Michu (free, Celta Vigo), Roberto Trashorras (free, Celta Vigo), Mikel Labaka (free, Real Sociedad), Raul Tamudo (free, Real Sociedad)

Transfers Out: Coke (€1.7m, Sevilla), Oscar Trejo (loan return, Mallorca), Emiliano Armenteros (loan return, Sevilla), Antonio Amaya (loan return, Wigan Athletic), Brayan Angulo (loan return, Leixoes S.C.), Borja Garcia (loan return, Cordoba CF), Yuma (free, UD Salamanca), Juan Quero (loan, Cordoba CF), Juli (loan, Asteras Tripolis)

One thing that excites me about Rayo’s promotion is the additional number to the Madrid based clubs in La Liga for the new season. The excitement will go no further than that with the terrible mess the players at the Madrid club are experiencing. They are being owed salary of over 12 months and are being persuaded to take pay cut while playing in the top flight.
This dreadful situation has seen players leave and surely no agent negotiating any proposed deal for his client to play at Teresa Rivero. However, they have signed former Spain international Raul Tamudo on a one-year contract. Would this be enough to keep them up?
Their fans can start preparing for life in the Segunda even before they kick-off in La Liga.

GRANADA   (Promotion playoffs winner)

Transfers In: Guada Rosales (loan return, CD Guijuelo), Aziz Tetteh (loan return, CD Leganes), Matias Alonso (loan return, C.A. Cerro), Guilherme Siqueira (free, Udinese), Dani Benitez (loan, Udinese). Odion Ighalo (loan, Udinese), Allan Nyom (loan, Udinese), Jaime Romero (loan, Udinese), David Cortes (free, Hercules CF), Ikechi Anya (free, Celta Vigo), Kabiru Akinsola (free, UD Salamanca), Juanjo Serrano (free, CD Guadalajara), Noe Pamarot (free, Hercules CF), Enrique Corrales (free, Mallorca), Yohan Mollo (€1m, AS Monaco), Fran Rico (€1m, Real Madrid), Toti (free, UD Salamanca), David Ferreiro (free, Zamora CF), Carlos Martins (loan, Benfica), Jorge Ribeiro (loan, Benfica), Julio Cesar (loan, Benfica), Hassan Yebda (free, Benfica)

Transfers Out: Carlos Calvo (loan return, Udinese), Dani Benitez (loan return, Udinese), Jonathan Mensah (loan return, Udinese), Fabian Orellana (loan return, Udinese), Mikel Rico (loan return, Udinese), Odion Ighalo (loan return, Udinese), Allan Nyom (loan return, Udinese), Juande (loan return, Real Betis), Pedro Barrancos (loan, Cadiz), Kabiru Akinsola (loan, Cadiz), Juanjo Serrano (loan, Cadiz), Oscar Perez (loan, Cadiz), Alex Cruz (loan, CE Sabadell), Ruben Parraga (free, Real Murcia), Toti (loan, Cadiz), David Ferreiro (loan, Cadiz), Juan Collantes (free, FC Cartagena), Goku (loan, Burgos CF), Ikechi Anya (loan, Cadiz), Enrique Corrales (free, UD Las Palmas), Jonathan Martin Golpe (loan, UD Melilla), Jeison Murillo (loan, Cadiz), Rafael Martinez (loan, Montaneros CF), Aziz Tetteh (loan, Montaneros CF)

El Grana was a club on the brink of closing in July 2009 but now find themselves playing primera league football in 2011. This is a laudable achievement for the Andalusia club who struck a partnership agreement with top italian side Udinese which has seen the Spanish club incorporate several players from the Italian club on loan deals.
Loan deals, free transfers and promoting of academy players appears as the only option for Granada to recruit. Noe Pamarot arrived on a free from Hercules while Hassan Yebda and Carlos Martin have joined them from Benfica on loan deals.
Manager Fabri Gonzalez, his team and fans should enjoy their visits to illustrious grounds around the country while playing in  La Liga.
Relegation is a sure bet.

This preview should help set the tone for La Liga BBVA 2011-12 season. The reason why La Liga is so special is simple – Home to the World and European Champions, Champions of the continent in Club Football, FIFA World Player and the World’s Most Expensive Player plies their trade here. Addition to that, The self acclaimed Special One works here too.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by harphyz on August 27, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Counting on Real Madrid to shut UEFA FC up (BArcelona FC)


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