The Disparaging Primera Predictions: Part 4
Tim Stannard rounds off his preview of the coming La Liga season with a look at Sevilla, Sporting, Valencia, Villarreal and Zaragoza
Poor Sevilla. The club was once the fresh-faced, buxom-boobed, cheery smile-sporting, open-all-hours barmaid of la Liga. Now, itÃ¢ÂÂs an embittered, stinky breath troll of a football side that should be put out of its misery using nothing but curling tongs and a tortoise.
The SÃÂ¡nchez PizjuÃÂ¡n side is the luckless family mutt in National LampoonÃ¢ÂÂs Vacation thatÃ¢ÂÂs still tied to the bumper when the forgetful Chevy Chase drives off. For the past couple of seasons it ran its little heart out and managed to keep up with the required Primera pace. Now, itÃ¢ÂÂs just a stumpy mess smeared on the tarmac of Spanish football.
Sevilla only just scraped into the Champions League last season with a last minute goal against AlmerÃÂa. And Sevilla were out of the competition just as quickly this week with a hefty defeat to Braga - one letter away from being Ã¢ÂÂknickersÃ¢ÂÂ in Spanish, which is as about as well as the team played over the two legs.
Part of the reason for SevillaÃ¢ÂÂs steady decline from being the bestest team in Europe ever, ever just a few seasons ago to the mess it is now is the insistence of cheapskate club president, JosÃÂ© Maria del Nido, in appointing managers who were the number twos of the number ones who either quit or were sacked.
Although del Nido claims that Ã¢ÂÂhe is not planning any changesÃ¢ÂÂ on the bench after their calamitous Champions League defeat, few believe him and it looks like Antonio Alvarez could be the first coach to be fired in la Primera this season. It will probably be a relief for the trainer who spent eight years working away under JoaquÃÂn CaparrÃÂ³s, Juande Ramos and Manolo JimÃÂ©nez. His own number two will be getting very nervous indeed over the next few days.
LLL Prediction - 5th
Despite the best efforts of The Man running the game in Spain to prevent all away travel by refusing to give fans any useful advance warning of when - and on the odd occasion, where - games are taking place, those plucky, finger-flipping Sporting supporters keep giving the bird to the bigwigs by traveling around the grounds of la Primera in their glorious thousands.
And it should be another fairly stress free nine months of road trips after a bit of a tinker to an already fairly competent squad over the summer, with the prized purchase for the GijÃÂ³n side being the capture of Nacho Novo who was allowed to wander free as a haggis in the moors and mountains of Scotland for nine years.
LLL Prediction - 14th
The rather dispiriting fact for Valencia is that having racked up around Ã¢ÂÂ¬60m in profit in the transfer market over the summer - and significantly reduced the wage bill - there is no clue as yet as to whether their half a billion euro debt has been whittled away enough to allow work to restart on the new Mestalla stadium which, like KakÃÂ¡, has seen over a year of dust-gathering inactivity.
A big old clear out has left the Mestalla men looking at Juan Mata to take on the work load of David Villa and David Silva - on about one millionth of the salary - and hoping that the incoming Roberto Soldado scores one or two more than he frequently misses in front of goal.
On a more positive note, LLL suspects that this may be a very good year for Pablo HernÃÂ¡ndez, a forward-winger type thing who is a fine footballer despite looking like the particularly backward lovechild between a scarecrow and Beaker of the Muppets.
LLL Prediction - 6th
Sneaky so-and-soÃ¢ÂÂs. After failing to qualify for the Europa League the proper way after a fairly poxy season last year, Villarreal squeezed their way through the cat flap by taking advantage of MallorcaÃ¢ÂÂs expulsion. And this makes them the favourites to win the blinkinÃ¢ÂÂ thing as far as LLL can see following the Denmark 1992 European Championships theory.
To be honest, the blog has become rather bored of Villarreal and their goody-two-shoes spiel. Reasonably well run off the field and always attractive on it, LLL would love to see the Madrigal side have some kind of Mel Gibson blow-out just to liven things up in the blogÃ¢ÂÂs sad, lonely life.
Unfortunately this is unlikely to happen on the watch of manager, Juan Carlos Garrido - a coach who has the air and appearance of a NYPD homicide detective who pushes the envelope but gets results.
Being a side that simply loves an attacking midfielder or two, Villarreal have brought in the sensational slaphead, Borja Valero, from West Brom - a player who is likely to work rather well with Santi Cazorla, someone looking to fight his way back into the Spanish squad, perhaps at the expense of the fellow chipmonk-cheeked and new Man City bench ornament, David Silva.
LLL Prediction - 7th
ItÃ¢ÂÂs a year two reboot for Jermaine Pennant who spent the first one of his life in la Liga sitting on the bench, looking a bit bewildered - LLL would too, if it had to live in Zaragoza - and indulging in the contradictory activities of being caught by the police for speeding and being repeatedly late for training.
Hopefully, the wingerÃ¢ÂÂs second season will be a roaring success in Spain as Pennant is a fine, fine player on his day. Certainly the chances of this happening have improved immeasurably ever since Javier Arizmendi left Zaragoza for Getafe over the summer, a footballer who was responsible for shanking most of PennantÃ¢ÂÂs delightful passes over the bar like the talentless goon he is.
LLL Prediction - 16th
The Final Prediction Table (and at this point, LLL throws down the challenge to everyone to name their top and bottom three predictions in the comments section below)
1. Barcelona2. Real Madrid3. AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid4. Athletic Bilbao5. Sevilla6. Valencia7. Villarreal8. Getafe9. MÃÂ¡laga10. Deportivo11. Espanyol12. Real Sociedad13. Mallorca14. Sporting15. AlmerÃÂa16. Zaragoza 17. Osasuna18. Racing19. HÃÂ©rcules20. Levante
Part One: Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona, Deportivo, Atletico Madrid & AlmeriaPart Two: Malaga, Espanyol, Getafe, Hercules & LevantePart Three: Mallorca, Osasuna, Racing Santander, Real Madrid & Real Sociedad
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