The Great Season Preview 5/5: Sporting to Zaragoza

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Last Season 10th
Prediction 10th
LLL has a sneaky feeling that Manuel Preciado’s sixth season in charge in Gijon is going to be his most comfortable one, with no repetition of last year’s relegation and flirtation with getting well and truly fired. This does mean, of course, that Sporting are set to finish bottom of the pile, with the blog’s curse now firmly planted upon the club.

Diego Castro and José Angel have moved on; coming in to replace the former is Oscar Trejo, who definitely looked lively at Rayo last year on a loan spell from Mallorca. LLL suspects that another striker may be on the way, but it's a settled squad for Sporting this year with a coach they love to bits.
FFT Travel Guide: Sporting Gijon

Last Season 3rd
Prediction 3rd

Valencia have already been declared by the blog to have been the shrewdest summer spenders, with some cracking attacking talent signed up such as Sergio Canales and Pablo Piatti.As well as these two forward players there’s also Roberto Soldado, who may well fancy his chances of sneaking into the Spain squad this season, although there is a bit of a queue in front of the former Getafe man.

The club is still likely to be a little off its trolly, what with Miguel still in the ranks and supporters always willing to get their hankies out for a wave of disgust at a moment’s notice. Heck, if things really go well for Valencia this season they may even be able to lay a brick or two at the new stadium, which has remained untouched for the past couple of years.
FFT Travel Guide: Valencia

Last Season 4th
Prediction 7th

It breaks the blog’s delicate little heart to say so, but there may be trouble ahead for Villarreal. The squad has been weakened with the departure of Santi Cazorla, a crucial figure for both his brilliant forward play and his cheeky-chappy smile. LLL would not be at all surprised if either Giuseppe Rossi or Nilmar are also sold off with the club still a selling one at the right price.

Villarreal’s slight drop down the table from last season’s position isn’t just due to transfers this summer, but the fact that Málaga and Sevilla have strengthened considerably to overhaul the Yellow Submarine – and leave them potentially out of the European places come May.
FFT Travel Guide: Villarreal

Last Season 13th
Prediction 15th
It isn’t exactly nice to say this in respect for the club’s long-suffering fans but LLL would be ecstatic if Zaragoza were to pick up zero points this season and go down in flames. The club has been – ahem – creative in its accounting in recent months and managed to put itself into administration over the summer to avoid any punishments for failure to pay players both former and present.

According to a report in AS, that outstanding total stands at €13.5m, so LLL would be intrigued to know about the moral and financial hi-jinks required to be able to sign a goalkeeper for €9m as Zaragoza did with Roberto.

The club’s key strength is their coach, Javier Aguirre, who will do anything to get a victory and will squeeze everything out of his squad. Despite Zaragoza losing Gabi and Ander Herrera from the midfield, there is still enough talent kicking about to survive the season, but it could be a close call – like an awful lot of teams in la Primera this year.
FFT Travel Guide: Real Zaragoza

The Predicted Table in Full
1. Barcelona
2. Real Madrid
3. Valencia
4. Sevilla
5. Málaga
6. Athletic Bilbao
7. Villarreal
8. Atlético Madrid
9. Getafe
10. Sporting
11. Osasuna
12. Espanyol
13. Zaragoza
14. Mallorca
15. Levante
16. Betis
17. Real Sociedad
18. Racing Santander
19. Granada
20. Rayo Vallecano

Previous previews:
Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Betis
Espanyol, Getafe, Granada, Levante
Malaga, Mallorca, Osasuna, Racing Santander
Rayo Vallecano, Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, Sevilla