The Great Season Preview 4/5: Rayo Vallecano to Sevilla

Rayo Vallecano
Last Season 2nd in Segunda
Prediction 20th (relegated)
Having enjoyed the festivities in Rayo’s peculiar three-sided stadium for the promotion party and the subsequent booze-up in Vallecas, it would be fantastic if the blog could predict a glorious return to top-flight football for the side. But that simply isn’t going to be the case. Instead, it’s going to be an awful, forgettable season for the People’s Republic of Rayo.

The club is still in a dreadful mess off the pitch with footballers who had gone up to 14 months without pay then being asked to take 70% less than the imaginary salary they were supposed to be earning previously. At time of writing, there is still a dispute over cash between the administrators and Rayo’s manager and sporting director; both key staff members could leave the club at the start of the season.

This lack of beans to rub together sees Rayo’s squad desperately thin and completely lacking the quality to stay in the top flight. Once-buoyant supporters are now truly despondent on the eve of the season when they should be giddy and gay; most are just hoping that the damage that Rayo are about to suffer over the next nine months isn’t too horrifying.
FFT Travel Guide: Rayo Vallecano

Real Madrid
Last Season 2nd
Prediction 2nd
LLL has already shown its goods and tipped Barcelona to win the title once again, but it really is by a margin of 50.0000001 and 49.something equally as small between the two sides. José Mourinho has seen that it doesn’t really matter how Madrid perform in the two league games against Barcelona in the campaign to come, but how they go in the other 36 matches.

Accordingly, Mourinho has beefed up the squad with two tasty players in each position (and Kaká); this is especially the case with the purchase of Fabio Coentrao for the previously Marcelo-reliant left flank. For Madrid, it’s all about keeping constant pressure on Barcelona by not dropping points to the likes of Mallorca, Levante, Almería, Zaragoza, Osasuna and Zaragoza and Sporting – the places where Mourinho came a cropper last season, albeit due to the obvious and enormous Spanish FA/UEFA/refereeing conspiracy against his club.

Having forced former Director General and sparring partner Jorge Valdano from the club, The Special One really has no-one else to blame if Madrid fail to deliver this year – aside from the aforementioned refs, fixture computer, opposition referees, ball boys, weather forecasters, coach drivers...
FFT Travel Guide: Real Madrid

Real Sociedad
Last Season 15th
Prediction 17th
LLL feels in its milky waters that the season is going to be a poor one for La Real after an occasionally sparky but eventually fraught campaign last year. The club took the somewhat bizarre decision to sack Martin Lasarte – who took the team up to la Primera and kept them there – and replaced him with a newcomer to la Liga.

French coach Philippe Montanier has built up a reputation for doing great things with modest teams, such as his last side Valenciennes, and has snuck across the border to try his luck in Spain. Marca hopefully predict that la Real will be a fun, attacking team to watch this year, but there have been very few changes to the squad over the summer. Raúl Tamudo has gone, among others, with three B-teamers being promoted and Carlos Vela brought in on loan to cover the gap.

Real Sociedad’s best hope to avoid the drop is hang on to promising French winger Antoine Griezmann, pray that Xavi Prieto performs once again as the side’s playmaker and that Joseba Llorente can stay injury free and perhaps grab 15 goals to keep la Real up.
FFT Travel Guide: Real Sociedad

Last Season 5th
Prediction 4th
Sevilla may have finished fifth last year, but it was a campaign where the club completely lost the plot and strayed off the path of righteousness. Club president José María Del Nido has realised this and allowed sporting director Monchi to completely rejig the squad. 

The changes begin with the manager: former Racing Santander coach Marcelino has been brought in to add some verve, enthusiasm and fantastic duffel coats. The midfield is going to be the most interesting development area, with departing Didier Zokora and Diego Capel leaving a tussle for places between Jesus Navas, Ivan Rakitic, Diego Perotti and newbies Piotr Trochowski and Manu del Moral.

LLL is expecting a serene Sevilla for the first time in yonks and Alvaro Negredo to have his best season yet. When the side were playing badly, Sevilla came fifth. Playing well, fourth spot is looking very likely indeed.
FFT Travel Guide: Sevilla

Previous previews:
Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Betis
Espanyol, Getafe, Granada, Levante
Malaga, Mallorca, Osasuna, Racing Santander