La Liga Review 2010/11: Barca give Jose a bath and Depor bite the dust
The end of the season is upon us so itÃ¢ÂÂs time for Part One of LLLÃ¢ÂÂs annual ratings and slatings - heavy on the slatings, to be fair - of the season of every team in la Primera, along with each side's highlights and lowlights. Heck, we'll also throw in the pre-season predictions so you can see where LLL went right and very wrong at the beginning of campaign...
AlmerÃÂaLLL Prediction - 16thFinal Position - 20th
The ever insightful blog thought it may be touch and go for little old AlmerÃÂa in the survival stakes at the start of the season, but there was a little bit too much of the Ã¢ÂÂgoÃ¢ÂÂ and not quite enough Ã¢ÂÂtouchÃ¢ÂÂ for the southern side.
Despite finishing bottom of the table with 30 points, only managing to win six games and conceding eight to both Barcelona and Real Madrid, AlmerÃÂa werenÃ¢ÂÂt actually that bad. Honest. Indeed, at times, the teamÃ¢ÂÂs counter-attacking, speedy play could be a lot of fun to watch with the pacey pair of Pablo Piatti and Albert Crusat always good value.
The problem was that there wasnÃ¢ÂÂt too much else going on in the team apart from the Valencia-bound Diego Alves in goal. Three different coaches during the campaign thanks to the fine firing work of an itchy-triggered president, certainly didnÃ¢ÂÂt help either.
Highlight Pablo PiattiÃ¢ÂÂs double against Sevilla (below)
Lowlight The 8-0 defeat against Barcelona that cost manager No.1, Juanma Lillo, his job.
Athletic BilbaoLLL Prediction - 4thFinal Position - 6th
A Champions League finish from Athletic was the blogÃ¢ÂÂs bold prediction before the start of the season and, although it was technically wrong, the spirit of it was bang on.
ThereÃ¢ÂÂs been a little bit of criticism from the Athletic faithful who also felt that a stronger tilt at a top four finish was possible this year from a fine crop of players that include Fernando Llorente, Javi MartÃÂnez, Iker Muniain and Andoni Iraola, especially as five points were dropped in the clubÃ¢ÂÂs final three matches - points which could have made all the difference.
But all that seems a little harsh. Fernando Llorente had another outstanding campaign with 18 league goals with half of them being headers, giving an indication of AthleticÃ¢ÂÂs favoured tactics. However, the forward lacked striking support when having an off day with the next highest league scorer being pocket rocket Gaizka Toquero, who grabbed seven. With Athletic not being a team that can easily rectify this issue in the transfer market, a top six finish seems pretty good work in the end.
Highlights Fernando LlorenteÃ¢ÂÂs goals
Lowlights Ã¢ÂÂTheatricsÃ¢ÂÂ in the penalty area. From Llorente rather a lot of the time.
AtlÃÂ©tico MadridLLL Prediction - 3rdFinal Position - 7th
A guilty pair of hands up on this one, LLL was miles off. The blog felt that a Europa League win, a confident coach who was popular with fans, the world class striking pair of Kun AgÃÂ¼ero and Diego ForlÃÂ¡n and the recruitment of Diego GodÃÂn and Filipe Luis at the back might put AtlÃÂ©tico in with a great shout of finishing 'best of the rest'.
ThatÃ¢ÂÂs certainly how it seemed at the start, with the Rojiblancos winning the first two games of the season and looking pretty tasty in the process. But then the normal AtlÃÂ©tico afflictions began to bite back: reports of in-fighting in the dressing room, sulking players (ForlÃÂ¡n this year), supporter discontent and the inability of the clubÃ¢ÂÂs president, Enrique Cerezo, to close his trap at the appropriate time and avoid constant speculation on the future of his manager and star players.
AtlÃÂ©tico put together a bit of a run at the end of the season to sneak into seventh but lost their manager, Quique SÃÂ¡nchez Flores, in the process and potentially Kun AgÃÂ¼ero too. And David Gea. TheyÃ¢ÂÂll probably keep Luis Perea though, so thatÃ¢ÂÂs more bad news.
Highlights Kun AgÃÂ¼eroÃ¢ÂÂs hat-trick on the final day of the season. JosÃÂ© Antonio ReyesÃ¢ÂÂs goal against Villarreal.
Lowlight Everything said or done by Miguel Angel Gil and Enrique Cerezo. And AtlÃÂ©ticoÃ¢ÂÂs defenders running into each other in a 1-0 defeat at Sporting (below).
BarcelonaLLL Prediction - 1stFinal Position - 1st
Not a bad campaign overall for Barcelona. A second Champions League win in three years and a third Primera title in a row, the 53 goals of Leo Messi in all competitions and the 5-0 demolition of Real Madrid at the Camp Nou are the obvious highlights. But perhaps the alternate reasons to be cheerful was getting a full season out of AndrÃÂ©s Iniesta, and indeed all of the clubÃ¢ÂÂs World Cup winners, who are the engine room for both club and country.
This predicable fatigue certainly explains the fall in form towards the end of the campaign, but by that time the league title was done and dusted. It was only the fantastic fingertips of Iker Casillas in the second half of the Copa Del Rey final that stopped Pep Guardiola from leading his Dream Boys to another treble.
Highlight JosÃÂ© MourinhoÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂbathÃ¢ÂÂ - as the Spanish would say - in the Camp Nou. You'd probably call it a comprehensive battering... (below)
Lowlight Both Champions League semi-finals and BarcelonaÃ¢ÂÂs grasp of the darker arts of football.
DeportivoLLL Prediction - 10thFinal Position - 18th
Never has LLL been happier to get a prediction wrong. The blog suspected the season would be another tedious plod around the other 19 grounds in la Primera for Deportivo and so it came to pass. But this time, DeportivoÃ¢ÂÂs dullard defensive tactics werenÃ¢ÂÂt enough and the clubÃ¢ÂÂs eight goalless draw turned out to be one to many - literally considering the Galician side went down by a single point.
Highlight Losing 2-0 to Valencia on the final day of the season to be relegated and put us all out of our misery...
Lowlight AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid 2-0 Deportivo. A personal low point for LLL that saw Deportivo turn up to a freezing Vicente CalderÃÂ³n on a Saturday night with 10 defenders and concede within eight minutes to make it a very long match indeed.