This is Spain

Málaga’s pre-season training


Well, the 2011/2012 season could not have got off to a worse start ….. it did not start at all! No, the entire fixture list was scrapped because of a players’ strike that looked like it could cancel week two also. Fortunately, this was averted and we can now look forward to an exciting season. If it’s anything like last season almost every single club had something to play for with just 4 games to go. This season could be just as close.

I am not a huge fan of predictions and despite 45 years watching the good, the bad and the indifferent, I am useless. Nevertheless, here goes:

Real Madrid – I think Mou will have them focussed on getting La Liga back. He has strength in depth, can carry a few injuries and make progress in three competitions.

Barcelona – It will go to the wire. No way can I see a title-winner outside the top two. I just have a feeling that if Real Madrid can get at least 4 points from the superclásicos that it will be enough.

Valencia – they’ll finish a lot of points behind the top two but leading the chasing pack. Sound manager and some consistency will see them well.

Málaga – it could be heaven or it could be hell. Huge amount of money poured in with some MASSIVE signings. Cazorla and Van Nistelrooy will make it difficult for any defence and Joaquín is there to soften the opponents up. A few cards and a few goals, is what I expect from the ex-Valencia player. They SHOULD do well. If they are not top 4/5 by New Year, they could fall badly. Manager  Pellegrini is vastly experienced and has a great squad. No excuses!

Villarreal – a small “Big” club who I think will punch above their weight again.

Athletic – Llorente will get them goals. Strong squad and difficult to beat at home. Getting stronger by the year. Could get up to 3rd. Bielsa as manager? Yes, question marks over him!

Sevilla -if I ignore their odious president and keep to football, I suppose I have to put them 6th/7th. They need a big push to get them above that.

Espanyol – good enough to flatter last season but I can’t see them improving on that.

Sporting – I can see a 6/8 point gap on the next group and there is frankly not much to separate them and none will be completely safe with 4/5 games to go I think. Yes, this season again, there is likely to be more activity at the bottom than the top.

Racing – difficult to believe some of the things that have happened but they should be too good to stay up.

Mallorca – huge problems but capable players. If they win a good number of games against the bottom teams they will be OK.

Real Sociedad – consolidated last season. Can’t see them doing much better.

Atlético – could be a very tricky season. Have lost Kun and De Gea. Could lose Forlán….and could lose their top half status! No surprise if they are scrambling for points with only a few games to go. Very experienced manager  – Gregorio Manzano has seen the good, the bad and the ugly before. Might be what they need even to stay up!

Levante – Over-performed last time out. Think they’ll scrape enough points to stay up again. Not sure about new manager.

Betis – they’ll be glad to be back and their noisy fans should help them get enough home points to stay up.

Zaragoza – despite what their president says they are not good enough to stay up on their name/history alone. Nothing ever impresses me and I’d not lose sleep if they drop down ……and they could. Moody Javier Aguirre talks a good game but they need real points too!

Osasuna A few late results and a cluster of teams on almost identical points flattered them. I never thought they were as good as they seemed. I think they’ll struggle this time.

Getafe Oh dear! My beloved Getafe! “Investors” arrive and then promptly drain the club. They lose their best players and a good young manager. I fear this could be a disaster. Sure they’ll pull a couple of amazing results but the weeks after they will let in a handful.

Granada – it would be nice to think they are strong enough to stay up …..but they won’t. Life! Fabri as manager has only three games at the top level behind him. I can’t help thinking he won’t get many more wins either.

Rayo Vallecano – no money, no depth in the squad and a long, hard season culminates in relegation.

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