The Big Season Preview - Part Two

Espanyol

The Barcelona-based club is set to have the saddest of starts to the season overshadowed by the shocking death of captain, Dani Jarque.

But it should have been a joyous occasion with Espanyol leaving the concrete crap hole of the Montjuic and moving into their sparkly new stadium.

But life moves on and so most Espanyol. Early opponents for the Pericos will have sympathy for their current plight. But not enough to give them points.

Pochettino is still trying to fill the central-defensive hole left by Jarque, but has had a decent summer on the transfer market bringing in a bit of pupper-power with Verdu from Deportivo, Celtic playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura and Chelsea reject striker Ben Sahar.

The old school brigade of ‘Ratface’ Tamudo, Luis García and Ivan de la Peña are still lingering like an old Spanish granny at a free paella festival.

And so is Carlos Kameni, a vital presence in goal, not that you’d have thought the same thing last season.

LLL Prediction - A flukey season could see a tilt at the Europa league. But it will probably end with mid-table comfort.

Getafe

With a decent manager in charge, it would surely be a top-two finish for the mighty Getafe.

Instead, the Coliseum club has the hapless Michel parking his Castilla-relegating booty on the bench. The former Madridista is someone with as much right to manage a Primera club as Sarah Michelle Gellar.

There have been one or two changes in the south-of-Madrid-with-a-long-metro-ride club over the summer.

Forward Ikechukwu Uche has done one to Zaragoza having not quite fulfilled his potential at Getafe, while Esteban Granero has returned to his homeland at Real Madrid.

Going the other way from the Bernabeu is promising midfielder Dani Parejo, where he looks set to partner Derek Boateng, brought in from Cologne, to replace the traitorous Eugen Polanski.

LLL Prediction - Should have Madrid and Barcelona looking over their shoulders like scaredy kitty cats. But will probably be a quiet mid-table trot with a Copa del Rey final thrown in.

Málaga

The big question for the iffyly-run Andalusian club is whether Málaga will top last season’s rather impressive 8th placed finish.

The answer is a big fat no. Málaga are set to be the one-hit-wonder, Babylon Zoo of this year’s la Liga.

Two important pieces of last season’s success, Duda and Eliseu, have gone, as has the manager Antonio Tapia.

Returning to the club that he sees as his stomping ground after a season at Racing Santander is Juan Ramón López Muñiz, whose managerial style is of the Ernesto Valverde school - scowling and carrying a big stick.

LLL Prediction - Will probably be OK, but would not rule out a flirtation with the drop-zone.

Mallorca

To put it bluntly, Mallorca are so screwed in every department they make Paris Hilton look like Susan Boyle.

Close to bankruptcy, only just been allowed to sign players again after paying off their previous transfer debt and with one of their weakest squads for years.

Over the summer, the side lost keeper Carlos Moyá, along with a gaggle of key players such as José Jurado, Cleber Santana, David Navarro and Lionel Scaloni.

Bbut most importantly of all, playmaker Juan Arango.

One of those coming in is Rubén, the defender that a Sevilla-playing José Antonio Reyes made cry all those years ago in a famous tie against Real Madrid.

But Mallorca looked done-and-dusted last year before experienced old head Gregorio Manzano led his team through one of the best second halves of the season in la Primera and safety.

La Liga Loca doubts he can repeat the same fantastic feat.

LLL Prediction - Doomed!

Osasuna

Mmm. You have to fear for any team with striker Javier Portillo in the squad, but Osasuna have tried to improve their rather poor goal-scoring tally of last season with the handy Javier Camuñas from Recreativo and former Numancia journeyman Carlos Aranda.

But the midfield will badly miss Jaroslav Plasil, who has jumped ship to French champions Bordeaux, not to mention one or two veterans who have either retired or moved on.

Osasuna will continue to be the most violent team in la Liga by a long chalk with fans who literally hate everyone.

Which is why their survival in the Spanish top-flight is once again a big blog hope.

LLL Prediction - Another messy campaign but with a happy end.

Wise words or talking tosh? - Have your say, make your predictions and nail your colours to the mast, gringos, in the comments section below.

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The Big Season Preview - Part One

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