La Liga Loca's half-term report: Why Eibar are probably the world's best team... ever
Now it's a time for a chat into the philosophy of perfection. Technically speaking, winning every single match would have been an exemplary campaign for the teeny Basque club. However, ending up at the halfway stage in eighth, some 11 points from the relegation zone, is a minor miracle.
This is a side that's enjoyed back-to-back promotions, never been in the top flight, has a stadium that holds just over 6,300 and whose record transfer is €200,000. Oh, and the team plays more than decent football too and seems to be stronger away from home. They're giving some pride to what has been a largely rotten few months for Basque football.
It's been a tough start for the very relegation-threatened Elche, a club which has been rocked and rolled by institutional problems including the two usual La Liga tick boxes of legal problems, president and players going unpaid. However, there is some light at the end of a rather gloomy tunnel, with striker Jonathas close to knocking in double figures – a rare thing for a struggling side – and the club sticking by manager Fran Escribá. An extra mark will always be given to this club for being one of the few in the football that almost sound like ‘squelchy’.
A big sigh here for poor Espanyol, a fine, fine club permanently caught between a financial rock and an economic hard place. The Pericos are always going to have too much quality to go down – having Sergio García helps – but never quite enough juice for anything much more than plod around mid-table. That’s where Espanyol are now after 19 games, but that will suit the Catalan club just fine for the moment considering some rather iffy patches of form this season.
For a club that tends to do its business on and off the field without too much fanfare, Getafe have been in the news a fair bit. There was the embargo on Pedro León playing due to his wages breaking a salary cup, and then the bizarre notion of the club selling its manager to the Chinese league just before Christmas. The boss of a decade ago, Quique Sánchez Flores, now has the job of every manager at Getafe in the intervening period – finding how to put some blooming spring in the step of a relatively talented squad doing the bare minimum to get by, knowing 10th place will always be enough.
The relegation battle this season is going to be an absolute doozy. Although Granada sit rock bottom with 14 points and without a win in 15, like everyone else in the relegation race in La Primera, the Andalusian side are not that bad. Just misunderstood, perhaps. Veteran coach Joaquín Caparrós was ditched last week with the equally veteran Abel Resino taking over to try to completely change the mental profile of a group of players in a huge downward spiral.
Actually, scratch that last comment – Levante are the one side that look a little doomed. The team’s recent success was built on a solid back four, all bruisers to a man, and a striker looking to rebuild a failing career. All that's missing from the Valencia club this year, with the side being less than beguiling to watch and very much in the dour mould of Deportivo three years ago. Not a good place to be.
A very pleasant surprise indeed. LLL wasn't entirely sure of the southern side's destiny this season, but a seventh-place spot at the halfway stage was probably better than the blog expected. Carlos Kameni has proven to be the rock of old between the sticks, while new coach Javi Gracia has squeezed everything out of the rest of the squad, including overseeing a fine opening half of the season from Nordin Amrabat.