La Liga Review 2010/11: Barca give Jose a bath and Depor bite the dust

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The end of the season is upon us so it’s time for Part One of LLL’s 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...

LLL Prediction - 16th
Final Position - 20th

The ever insightful blog thought it may be touch and go for little old Almería in the survival stakes at the start of the season, but there was a little bit too much of the ‘go’ and not quite enough ‘touch’ 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, Almería weren’t actually that bad. Honest. Indeed, at times, the team’s 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 wasn’t 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 didn’t help either.

Highlight Pablo Piatti’s double against Sevilla (below)

Lowlight The 8-0 defeat against Barcelona that cost manager No.1, Juanma Lillo, his job.

Athletic Bilbao

LLL Prediction - 4th
Final Position - 6th

A Champions League finish from Athletic was the blog’s bold prediction before the start of the season and, although it was technically wrong, the spirit of it was bang on.

There’s 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 Martínez, Iker Muniain and Andoni Iraola, especially as five points were dropped in the club’s 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 Athletic’s 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 Llorente’s goals

Lowlights ‘Theatrics’ in the penalty area. From Llorente rather a lot of the time.

Atlético Madrid

LLL Prediction - 3rd
Final 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 Agüero and Diego Forlán and the recruitment of Diego Godín and Filipe Luis at the back might put Atlético in with a great shout of finishing 'best of the rest'.

That’s 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 Atlético afflictions began to bite back: reports of in-fighting in the dressing room, sulking players (Forlán this year), supporter discontent and the inability of the club’s president, Enrique Cerezo, to close his trap at the appropriate time and avoid constant speculation on the future of his manager and star players.

Atlético put together a bit of a run at the end of the season to sneak into seventh but lost their manager, Quique Sánchez Flores, in the process and potentially Kun Agüero too. And David Gea. They’ll probably keep Luis Perea though, so that’s more bad news.

Highlights Kun Agüero’s hat-trick on the final day of the season. José Antonio Reyes’s goal against Villarreal.

Lowlight Everything said or done by Miguel Angel Gil and Enrique Cerezo. And Atlético’s defenders running into each other in a 1-0 defeat at Sporting (below).


LLL Prediction - 1st
Final 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 Andrés Iniesta, and indeed all of the club’s 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 José Mourinho’s ‘bath’ - 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 Barcelona’s grasp of the darker arts of football.

LLL Prediction - 10th
Final 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, Deportivo’s dullard defensive tactics weren’t enough and the club’s 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 Atlético Madrid 2-0 Deportivo. A personal low point for LLL that saw Deportivo turn up to a freezing Vicente Calderón on a Saturday night with 10 defenders and concede within eight minutes to make it a very long match indeed.


Part Two: Levante’s Miracle and Málaga’s Near Disaster
Part Three: Madrid’s solid season and Racing’s AWOL owner

Part Four: Sorry Sevilla & Dastardly Zaragoza