La Liga Review 2010/11: Barça’s big party & Depor’s despair


The title-race had already been done and dusted for what felt like decades before Barcelona’s 1-1 draw with Levante that mathematically sealed the deal for Pep’s Dream Boys, to kick off three days that Guardiola promised would be packed with “eating, dancing, laughing and a lot of singing.” In fact, it was like Ronaldinho had never left the Camp Nou.

However, the feuding and fighting was still rumbling on from Clásico quadruple-header, the final leg of which being the 1-1 Champions League semi-final draw at Camp Nou that ensured Barcelona would be taking on Manchester United at Wembley, a concept Iker Casillas did not deal with very well at all.

“They robbed us here and there,” complained the Madrid captain on a number of refereeing decisions he had taken a dislike to. “They took away our final.”

The bitterness from both sides of the camp caused many in Spain, including Vicente Del Bosque, to fret over whether the fall-out from the matches would seep through and contaminate the national side. It was a notion that was roundly poo-pooed by those involved, with the Spanish captain far more laid-back when predicting what would happen the next time he came across Xavi.

“I’m sure that as soon as we meet for the Spain team, we’ll see each other and say ‘(naughty word!)’ and ‘(naughty word!)’ and in one moment everything will be fixed.” Unfortunately, the exact same solution didn’t work for José Mourinho and Jorge Valdano and their particular tiff.

While Real Madrid sauntered off for their holidays, Barcelona had their lovely night out in London to look forward to, and comfortably disposed of Manchester United to pick up their second Champions League title in three years.

Not wanting to be left out of the crowing coming from the Catalan media, Madrid-mad Marca wrote that it wasn’t just Barcelona who were victors on the night. “The win was also for Spanish football. In the first place because the four European Cups added to the nine of Real Madrid make us the country with most European titles,” noted the paper’s editorial.

At the bottom of the Primera table there were all kinds of rumours floating about concerning a final round that saw seven teams with the possibility of joining Almería and Hércules in la Segunda.

The favourites for the drop were Zaragoza, who had a 48% chance of going down. And this was why a club with a reputation for doing whatever’s necessary to survive might have been involved in a helpful arrangement with Levante, the club the side were playing. These stories - all without foundation, LLL should note - were condemned by Levante president, Quico Catalan, who fumed that “there are people trying to damage the image of an institution that’s more than a 100 years old.” Carles Puyol can certainly sympathise with that. 

The side who eventually fell through the trap door were Deportivo following a 2-0 home defeat to Valencia in a match which mirrored the team’s season, in that the Galician’s were physically unable to score. “Hell doesn’t deserve a team like this,” sobbed Marca, not exactly helping the self-esteem of those sides already in the second division.

Deportivo’s demise saw the well-deserved sacking of their manager Miguel Angel Lotina, who decided to share the blame for the club’s relegation. “Lotina hasn’t been relegated, but Deportivo has and we are a lot of people. This year it seems that only I lost.”

Valencia and Villarreal bagged third and fourth spot with Atlético Madrid sneaking in the footballing cat flap to sneak seventh place with the reward of a 2011/12 Europa League qualifying game, four minutes after the end of their final match of their 2010/2011 league campaign.

However, Quique Sánchez Flores wasn’t there to lead them into the encounter, having kept his word to walk out of the Vicente Calderón at the end of his contract and leave the game in Spain that little bit duller - and not just because of the coach’s impressively orange tan.