The Great Season Preview 3/5: Málaga to Racing Santander
Last Season - 11th
Prediction - 5th
To be in the Champions League or to be in the Europa League, that is the question for MÃÂ¡laga this season after a summer splurge of some Ã¢ÂÂ¬58 million on nine new players. The best of the bunch is Santi Cazorla - a real sturdy statement of intent from the club - although the appointment of Fernando Hierro as Director General and the extended contract given to manager Manuel Pellegrini should not be underestimated.
The MÃÂ¡laga squad is nicely balanced, with the newbies set to fit in well some old hats such as Duda and ApoÃÂ±o, although how quickly the sideÃ¢ÂÂs Chilean manager finds his favoured starting eleven is key with an awful lot of options in an impressive squad now.
LLL senses MÃÂ¡laga may not quite have enough porridge in the bowl for the Champions League places, but a fifth-placed spot is more than doable and wonÃ¢ÂÂt be a bad feat at all, especially if the club is genuine in his mantra of looking for long-term growth and success.
FFT Travel guide: Malaga
Last Season - 17th
Prediction - 14th
Mallorca still have that blood-pooping, glassy-eyed, coffin-dodging 25-year-old family mutt look about them, but somehow the Balearic side are limping along, clinging to life and still trying to chase very slow-moving cars. The usual fire sale of talent hasnÃ¢ÂÂt materialised this summer, but this is largely because there was no-one decent left to flog, aside from midfielder Jonathan De Guzman who may be a goner by the time you read this blog.
The one footballer that Mallorca are going to miss is striker Pierre Webo, who has been the sideÃ¢ÂÂs most reliable goalscorer in recent seasons but ended a four-year associationg with the club over the summer in the biggest of huffs.
Michael Laudrup is doing his trumpet-blowing duty by claiming that the club is Ã¢ÂÂbetter than last seasonÃ¢ÂÂ - a campaign that very nearly ended in relegation on the final day, despite having been in mid-table comfort for much of the year. Overall, the year is going to be a tough one for Mallorca despite LaudrupÃ¢ÂÂs admirable optimism.
FFT Travel guide: Mallorca
Last Season - 9th
Prediction - 11th
Every season, LLL fears in its tummy that it might be the last one for Osasuna in la Primera, but each time everything seems to turn out all right for the Pamplona club who relied on the biggest of spurts at the end of the last campaign to survive.
There have been a few key departures in the Osasuna squad, with nut-job striking pair Walter Pandiani and Carlos Aranda moving on, while forward player Javier CamuÃÂ±as made a Ã¢ÂÂ¬2.3 million move to Villarreal in one of the more curious transfers of the summer. JosÃÂ© Luis Mendilibar, starting his first season with the club, has also seen his defence weakened with the loss of fullback, Nacho Monreal, to MÃÂ¡laga.
The words Ã¢ÂÂRaul GarcÃÂaÃ¢ÂÂ never normally inspire confidence, but the former AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid midfielder is set to return on loan to his home club after a four year spell in the Vicente CalderÃÂ³n to help out with another survival battle.
La Primera without Osasuna is like VÃÂctor VÃÂ¡ldes not being a complete tool - unthinkable and half as much fun, so LLL is gamely predicting a decent enough campaign for the Northerners this year.
FFT Travel guide: Osasuna
Last Season - 12th
Prediction - 18th (relegated)
As LLL likes to throw at least one prediction into the mix that deep down it knows will turn out to be wrong (last season, it was Athletic Bilbao to finish fourth) it is going for Racing to go down. The financial disaster which was the Ã¢ÂÂbuy-outÃ¢ÂÂ by Ali Syed saw the club beginning the administration process over the summer and leaves the club completely skint and with a threadbare, demoralised squad that could only grab a goalless draw against an Italian Serie C club at the beginning of the month.
Racing have lost loan signings, Markus Rosenberg and Giovani dos Santos, and it is hard to see where the goals are going to come this year to keep the club in la Primera. HÃÂ©ctor CÃÂºper is the manager unlucky enough to be in charge of this rabble for the season to come, although LLL feels in its water that the Argentinean will be the first to be fired, especially with Racing facing Valencia, AtlÃÂ©tico and Real Madrid in their first five games.
FFT Travel guide: Racing Santander