The 2010/2011 Spanish La Liga season begins this weekend, so here’s everything you need to know about every club competing in the division ahead of the new campaign.
Last season; Champions (31-6-1)’‘Most goals; Lionel Messi (34)'’Most assists; Xavi (14)’‘Key Ins'’David Villa (Valencia), Javier Mascherano (Liverpool), Adriano Correia (FC Sevilla)’‘Key Outs'’Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan – Loan), Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Dmytro Chygrynskiy (Shakhtar Donetsk), Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Rafael Marquez (New York Red Bulls), Martin Caceres (FC Sevilla - Loan)’‘Coach; Josep Guardiola'’Key player; Lionel Messi’‘Player to watch; PedroBarcelona had a near-perfect campaign last term, but there’s been some big-name departures. Toure leaving is the main blow but Mascherano replaces him. Beyond that, the main core of the side which led Barca to the title remains. The question is, is there enough hunger to hold off Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid? With players like Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta along with new man David Villa it’s hard to say no.Sports Pundit prediction; ChampionsReal MadridLast season; Runners-up (31-3-4)'’Most goals; Gonzalo Higuain (27)’‘Most assists; Guti & Marcelo (9)'’Key Ins’‘Mesut Oezil (Werder Bremen), Angel di Maria (Benfica), Sami Khedira (VfB Stuttgart), Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea), Sergio Canales (Racing Santander), Pedro Leon (Getafe)'’Key Outs’‘Guti (Besiktas), Raul (Schalke 04), Christoph Metzelder (Schalke 04)'’Coach; Jose Mourinho’‘Key player; Cristiano Ronaldo'’Player to watch; Mesut Oezil
Plenty of money has been spent again at the Bernabeu this European summer but the biggest change in Madrid is the arrival of ‘the Special One’ Jose Mourinho who takes the reins at Real. His presence alone is a major boost to their title ambitions but the addition of World Cup sensations di Maria and Oezil bolsters a strong squad. This could be Cristiano Ronaldo’s season after a disappointing World Cup.
Sports Pundit prediction; Runners-up
Last season; 3rd (21-8-9)’‘Most goals; David Villa (21)'’Most assists; Ever Banega (8)’‘Key Ins'’Roberto Soldado (Getafe), Mehmet Topal (Galatasaray), Aritz Aduriz (Mallorca), Ricardo Costa (Lille), Alberto Costa (Montpellier), Sofiane Feghouli (Grenoble)’‘Key Outs'’David Villa (FC Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Nikola Zigic (Birmingham City), Carlos Marchena (Villarreal), Alexis Ruano (FC Sevilla), Asier del Horno (Levante - Loan)’‘Coach; Unai Emery'’Key player; Juan Mata’‘Player to watch; Roberto SoldadoThe big news at the Mestalla has been the departure of gun duo David Villa and David Silva. It leaves Valencia’s ambitions severely decreased, but they’ve made some shrewd signings, particularly Aduriz and Soldado, who should inspire them to a top four spot. But Villa scored over a third of their La Liga goals last term and will take some replacing.Sports Pundit prediction; 5th’’
Last season; 4th (19-6-13)’‘Most goals; Luis Fabiano (15)'’Most assists; Jesus Navas (9)’‘Key Ins'’Martin Caceres (FC Barcelona – Loan), Tiberio Guarente (Atalanta Bergamo), Alexis Ruano (Valencia), Mouhamadou Dabo (Saint-Etienne), Luca Cigarini (Napoli - Loan)’‘Key Outs'’Adriano Correia (FC Barcelona), Sebastien Squillaci (Arsenal), Lolo (Osasuna), Marius Stankevicius (Sampdoria – Loan Return)’‘Coach; Antonio Alvarez'’Key player; Jesus Navas’‘Player to watch; Alvaro NegredoIt’s been an unusually low-key summer for the usually-ambitious Andalucians who will be eyeing off a Champions League spot after failing in qualifying this season. The departure of defensive rock Squillaci leaves Alvarez with a dilemma at the back, especially considering the club’s new signings aren’t ready-made replacements. But with Luis Fabiano, Jesus Navas and Fredi Kanoute they’ve got enough quality to push for the best-of-the-rest third spot.Sports Pundit prediction; 3rdAtletico MadridLast season; 9th (13-8-17)'’Most goals; Diego Forlan (18)’‘Most assists; Diego Forlan (6)'’Key Ins’‘Filipe Luis (Deportivo Coruna), Diego Godin (Villarreal), Mario Suarez (Mallorca), Fran Merida (Arsenal)'’Key Outs’‘Roberto Jimenez (Benfica)'’Coach; Quique Sanchez Flores’‘Key player; Diego Forlan'’Player to watch; Sergio Aguero
Last season’s Europa League winners will look forward to concentrating on La Liga under Quique Sanchez Flores this term. Diego Forlan is their barometer but tightening up their defence (after shipping 61 goals last season) will be crucial to their success, hence Filipe Luis and Diego Godin’s arrival.
Sports Pundit prediction; 4th
Last season; 7th (16-8-14)’‘Most goals; Nilmar (11)'’Most assists; Ariel Ibagaza & Nilmar (5)’‘Key Ins'’Carlos Marchena (Valencia), Borja Valero (West Bromwich), Jozy Altidore (Hull City – Loan Return)’‘Key Outs'’Ariel Ibagaza (Olympiacos), Joseba Llorente (Real Sociedad), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid), Damian Escudero (Boca Juniors), Ivan Marcano (Getafe - Loan), Sebastian Eguren (Gijon), Robert Pires’‘Coach; Juan Carlos Garrido'’Key player; Santi Cazorla’‘Player to watch; NilmarThere’s been plenty of changes for the Yellow Submarine in the past 12 months, but unfortunately it hasn’t brought the desired effect. Marchena and Valero’s arrival will boost their stocks, but it’s hard to see a significant improvement.Sports Pundit prediction; 8thDeportivo La CorunaLast season; 10th (13-8-17)'’Most goals; Riki (8)’‘Most assists; Juan Carlos Valeron & Andres Guardado (5)'’Key Ins’‘Claudio Morel Rodriguez (Boca Juniors), Ruben Perez (Atletico Madrid – Loan), Stopira (Santa Clara), Michel Herrero (Valencia – Loan), Felipe Ramos (Real Madrid Castilla)'’Key Outs’‘Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Mista (Toronto FC), Sergio Gonzalez (Levante), Rodolfo Bodipo (Vaslui – Loan), Ruben Castro (Betis)'’Coach; Miguel Angel Lotina’‘Key player; Andres Guardado'’Player to watch; Adrian
Lotina does not have the resources which were once enjoyed at the Riazor, but pressing for Europe is still a realistic ambition. Morel is a useful addition to their tight defence but there’s not much to suggest they’ll go further than midtable.
Sports Pundit prediction; 9th
Last season; 5th (18-8-12)’‘Most goals; Aritz Aduriz (12)'’Most assists; Borja Valero & Gonzalo Castro (8)’‘Key Ins'’Fernando Cavenaghi (Bordeaux – Loan), Jonathan de Guzman (Feyenoord), Edson Ramos (Bunyodkor), Joao Victor (Bunyodkor)’‘Key Outs'’Aritz Aduriz (Valencia), Mario Suarez (Atletico Madrid), Julio Alvarez (Tenerife), Felipe Mattioni (Espanyol)’‘Coach; Michael Laudrup'’Key player; Dudu Aouate’‘Player to watch; Gonzalo CastroFinancial woes have hurt Mallorca during the summer losing key players like Aduriz, Suarez and Alvarez. Laudrup arrives to steady the ship but he’s got a tough job ahead keeping them in the top-half.Sports Pundit prediction; 11thAthletic Bilbao>Last season; 8th (15-9-14)'’Most goals; Fernando Llorente (14)’‘Most assists; Igor Gabilondo & Fernando Llorente (5)'’Key Ins’‘Mikel San Jose (Liverpool)'’Key Outs’‘Joseba Etxeberria (retired), Francisco Yeste (Al Wasl), Inaki Munoz (Cartagena)'’Coach; Joaquin Caparros’‘Key player; Fernando Llorente'’Player to watch; Gaizka Toquero
Stability is the key in the Basque country and they’ve got in under Caparros who took them to a top-half finish last term. They’ve got the platform to build on too.
Sports Pundit prediction; 6th
Last season; 6th (17-7-14)’‘Most goals; Roberto Soldado (16)'’Most assists; Pedro Leon (9)’‘Key Ins'’Adrian Colunga (Recreativo), Javier Arizmendi (Zaragoza), Victor Sanchez (FC Barcelona – Loan), Ivan Marcano (Villarreal - Loan)’‘Key Outs'’Pedro Leon (Real Madrid), Roberto Soldado (Valencia), Adrian Gonzalez (Racing Santander), David Belenguer (Betis), David Cortes (Hercules)’‘Coach; Michel'’Key player; Dani Parejo’‘Player to watch; Adrian ColungaAfter last season’s dizzying heights, Getafe have lost some key men in Soldado and Leon, which is a worry.Sports Pundit prediction; 14thEspanyolLast season; 11th (11-11-16)'’Most goals; Pablo Daniel Osvaldo (7)’‘Most assists; Fernando Marques (5)'’Key Ins’‘Jesus Datolo (Napoli – Loan), Sergio Garcia (Real Betis), Felipe Mattioni (Mallorca)'’Key Outs’‘Raul Tamudo (Real Sociedad), Nicolas Parejo (Spartak Moscow), Fernando Marques (Parma), Ben Sahar (Hapoel Tel Aviv – Loan), Moises Hurtado (Olympiacos), Facundo Roncaglia (Boca Juniors – Loan Return)'’Coach; Mauricio Pochettino’‘Key player; Luis Garcia'’Player to watch; Ivan de la Pena
The Catalans did well under Pochettino last term and should be able to push on.
Sports Pundit prediction; 7th
Last season; 12th (11-10-17)’‘Most goals; Walter Pandiani (11)'’Most assists; Javier Camunas (7)’‘Key Ins'’Lolo (FC Sevilla), Dejan Lekic (Red Star), Fernando Soriano (Almeria), Damia Abella (Real Betis), Asier Riesgo (Real Sociedad)’‘Key Outs'’Cesar Azpilicueta (Marseille), Jorge Galan (Huesca – Loan), Dady (Bucaspor)’‘Coach; Jose Antonio Camacho'’Key player; Walter Pandiani’‘Player to watch; JuanfranCamacho should continue to build at Osasuna and with some handy additions another midtable finish is on the cards.Sports Pundit prediction; 10thMalagaLast season; 17th (7-16-15)'’Most goals; Duda (8)’‘Most assists; Duda (7)'’Key Ins’‘Sebastian Fernandez (Banfield), Salomon Rondon (Las Palmas), Sandro Silva (Palmeiras), Quincy Owusu-Abeyie (Al Sadd), Javier Malagueno (Ciudad Juarez), Eliseu (Lazio), Edinho (PAOK – Loan Return), Rodrigo Palatto (Paranaense)'’Key Outs’‘Victor Obinna (Inter Milan), Gustavo Munua (Levante), Milan Stepanov (FC Porto – Loan Return), Valdo (Espanyol – Loan Return), Felipe Caicedo (Manchester City – Loan Return)'’Coach; Jesualdo Ferreira’‘Key player; Duda'’Player to watch; Jesus Gamez
The arrival of ex-Porto boss Ferreira will fill Malaga with plenty of confidence. They’ve spent some money on Fernandez, Rondon and Silva and should push towards the top half.
Sports Pundit prediction; 12th
Last season; 15th (9-13-16)’‘Most goals; Diego Castro Gimenez (10)'’Most assists; Alberto Ramos, Diego Castro Gimenez & Miguel de las Cuevas (4)’‘Key Ins'’Sebastian Eguren (Villarreal), Alberto Botia (FC Barcelona), Gaston Sangoy (Apollon Limassol), Ayoze Garcia (Tenerife), Nacho Novo (Rangers)’‘Key Outs'’Kike Mateo (Elche), Jose Maldonado (Cartagena), Gerard (Xerez)’‘Coach; Manolo Preciado'’Key player; Miguel de las Cuevas’‘Player to watch; Mate BilicGijon have established themselves as a La Liga club nowadays and with some useful additions they’ll ease to survival.Sports Pundit prediction; 13thAlmeriaLast season; 13th (10-12-16)'’Most goals; Kalu Uche (9)’‘Most assists; Albert Crusat, Pablo Piatti & Juan Manuel Ortiz (4)'’Key Ins’‘Marcelo Silva (Danubio), Diego Valeri (FC Porto – Loan), Miguel Angel Luque (FC Barcelona B), Leonardo Ulloa (CD Castellon), Michael Jakobsen (Aalborg)'’Key Outs’‘Chico (Genoa), Fernando Soriano (Osasuna), Domingo (Santander), Guilherme Oliveira (Valladolid - Loan)'’Coach; Juan Manuel Lillo’‘Key player; Pablo Piatti'’Player to watch; Modeste M’Bami
There’s not been alot going on at Almeria this summer, but they’ve retained plenty of quality to ensure they’ll stay up although Soriano and Chico are big losses.
Sports Pundit prediction; 16th
Last season;’’ 2nd in Segunda Division (19-14-9)Most goals; Ionel Danciulescu (10)'’Key Ins’‘David Trezeguet (Juventus), Nelson Valdez (Dortmund), Abel Aguilar (Udinese), David Cortes (Getafe), Cristian Pulhac (Dinamo Bucuresti – Loan), Olivier Thomert (Le Mans), Mohamed Sarr (Standard Liege), Piet Velthuizen (Vitesse)'’Key Outs’‘Ionel Danciulescu (Dinamo Bucuresti), Jorge Alonso (Valladolid), Gerardo Noriega (Recreativo)'’Coach; Esteban Vigo’‘Key player; Nelson Valdez'’Player to watch; Javier Portillo
Hercules come into La Liga after a good campaign and they’ve been boosted by some decent signings including Trezeguet, Valdez and Aguilar. They look more than capable.
Sports Pundit prediction; 15th
Last season; 16th (9-12-17)’‘Most goals; Mohamed Tchite (11)'’Most assists; Pedro Munitis (8)’‘Key Ins'’Adrian Gonzalez (Getafe), Kennedy Bakircioglu (Ajax), Domingo (Almeria), Alexandros Tziolis (Siena – Loan), Francis (Xerez)’‘Key Outs'’Sergio Canales (Real Madrid), Toni Moral (Cartagena), Nasief Morris (Panathinaikos – Loan Return)’‘Coach; Miguel Angel'’Key player; Luis Garcia’‘Player to watch; Pedro MunitisThe challenge will be there for Santander boss Miguel Angel as they hope to stay up again. Canales’ departure is a blow, while the additions aren’t overly encouraging.Sports Pundit prediction; 19thReal SociedadLast season; Champions in Segunda Division (20-14-8)'’Most goals; Carlos Bueno (12)’‘Key Ins'’Raul Tamudo (Espanyol), Joseba Llorente (Villarreal), Diego Ifran (Danubio), Jeffrey Sarpong (Ajax)’‘Key Outs'’Asier Riesgo (Osasuna), Carlos Bueno (Penarol – Loan Return)’‘Coach; Martin Lasarte'’Key player; Claudio Bravo’‘Player to watch; Raul BravoSociedad come into the Spanish top flight feeling good and they’ve added forwards Tamudo and Llorente and should be able to stay up.Sports Pundit prediction; 17thZaragozaLast season; 14th (10-11-17)'’Most goals; Adrian Colunga (7)’‘Most assists; Gabi, Jorge Lopez & Lafita (4)'’Key Ins’‘Florent Sinama-Pongolle (Sporting Lisbon – Loan), Leo Franco (Galatasaray), Matteo Contini (Napoli), Nicolas Bertolo (Palermo – Loan)'’Key Outs’‘Adrian Colunga (Recreativo – Loan Return), Juan Pablo Carrizo (Lazio – Loan Return), Eliseu (Lazio – Loan Return), Humberto Suazo (Monterrey – Loan Return), Ruben Pulido (Eskisehirspor), Javier Arizmendi (Getafe)'’Coach; Jose Aurelio Gay’‘Key player; Leo Franco'’Player to watch; Florent Sinama-Pongolle
Zaragoza struggled to find reliable avenues to goal last seasons, so Suazo’s departure is a major blow and they’ll need to find a way if they’re to survive.
Sports Pundit prediction; 18th
Last season; 3rd in Segunda Division (19-14-9)’‘Most goals; Ruben Suarez & Javi Guerra (12)'’Key Ins’‘Gustavo Munua (Malaga), Valdo (Espanyol), Javi Venta (Villarreal), Sergio Gonzalez (Deportivo Coruna), Asier del Horno (Valencia – Loan), Ignacio Gonzalez (Valencia – Loan), Xavi Torres (Malaga – Loan), Christian Stuani (Reggina - Loan)'’Key Outs’‘Jorge Pina (Albacete), Daniel Carril (Las Palmas), Javi Guerra (Real Mallorca – Loan Return)'’Coach; Luis Garcia Plaza’‘Key player; Gustavo Munua'’Player to watch; Asier del Horno
After winning promotion, survival will be a tough ask for Levante. There’s plenty of new signings but probably not the quality needed especially with Javi Guerra heading back to Mallorca.
Sports Pundit prediction; 20th