La Liga Preview—Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, FC Sevilla

For the past few weeks I have combed the paella and sangria filled landscape that is Spain to come up with a definitive La Liga preview. For the most part, La Liga coverage in English is a bit difficult to find, so I have had to do lots of digging to figure out what is going on with the teams that have ascended into La Liga from the Segunda Division last season. However, there is no shortage of talk about La Liga in Spanish, thus I do a good deal of time trolling the Spanish dailies and team forums to get all the goods. It was so much easier when I lived there.

In all of the previews, I’ll give you the team, stadium, nicknames, who’s out, who’s in and what is going on. I don’t give starting 11’s because I’m shockingly bad at that.

Today we will have a look at the top three teams that fought it out till the last Temporada, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC (Note that you can find a million reviews and previews of these teams, so I don’t waste my time talking about every player on Madrid’s roster)

Real Madrid (1st place in La Liga in 2007)

Stadium: Santiago Bernabeau

Interesting Fact: Real Madrid brings in the most revenue of any football club in the world, with an estimated revenue of €292.2 million each year.

In: Soldado (Osasuna) Balboa (Racing) Metzelder (B. Dortmund)Baptista (Arsenal)Pepe (Oporto) Dudek (Liverpool)
Saviola (Barça) Schorch (Hertha Berlín) Drenthe (Feyenoord) Sneijder (Ajax) Heinze (Manchester Utd.)
Robben (Chelsea)

Out: Roberto Carlos (Fenerbahçe) Beckham (L. A. Galaxy) Diego López (Villarreal) Miñambres (Hércules) Pavón (Zaragoza) Raúl Bravo (Olympiakos) Pablo García (Murcia) Fabio Capello (entrenador) Mejía (Murcia) Helguera (Valencia)
Reyes (Atlético de Madrid) Cassano (Sampdoria) Emerson (Milan)Cicinho (Roma)
As if they didn’t have enough quality players

Real Madrid has never been shy in bringing in new players. This season was just insane in the number and caliber of players they brought in. The newbies will be the key to Madrid’s success this season. Javier Saviola didn’t have that great of a pre-season in his new colors, but will look to be back to form come the end of August. Soldado comes back from loan at Osasuna where he had a great season. Christoph Metzelder comes over from Germany and looks to take over for Roberto Carlos in the back. Two dutch signings in Wesley Sneijder and Royston Drenthe look to spice up things at Madrid. Look for Drenthe to be running around on the left come this season. Also, with the signings of Arjen Robben and Gabrien Henize, Madrid has the firepower to deal out some punishment this season. Not to mention they also signed Jerzy Dudek and Pepe.

Yeah, I am out of mind, and here is why. Real Madrid have some spots to fill with the departure of Beckham, Roberto Carlos, Jose Antonio Reyes and Ivan Helguera. Roberto Carlos will be missed the most out of that bunch and will not be able to be replaced easily. Beckham brought a different type of play last year in his best matches, serving up some great balls in the air and also playing great balls forward while controlling the midfield. These four will be hard to replace.

I’ve been hanging around…

Real still have talent left at home, with the likes of Guti, Robhino, Sergio Ramos and Cannivaro. And having Iker Casillas as your keeper isn’t half bad either. The veterans at Real Madrid will hold the fort down this season.

Put me in coach, I’m ready to play

Unlike at most clubs, at Real Madrid, winning the La Liga title does not guarantee your job for the next season, just ask Fabio Capello. Real’s philosophy is that if a better coach comes available, they will not pass it up. So, bring in Bernrd Schuster from Getafe. Getafe had a great showing in La Liga last year, and also made it to the Copa del Rey final with a shocking 4-1 victory against Barcelona to get to the final. Schuster was rumored to be heading to the Bernebeau for weeks before it happened, so it didn’t come as much of a surprise.

He will have to change up his style to fit in with Madrid. He will need to play attacking football EVERY game, and not take any weeks off with the tough team that Barcelona brings.

Survey Says

Madrid have the manpower and the will to win this season, but will they succeed or falter under Schuster. Madrid will finish second or third as they are falling to the ‘galaticos’ realm in signing anyone that they can get their hands on.

______________________________________________________________________________________

FC Barcelona (2nd place in La Liga 2007)

Stadium: Camp Nou

Nicknames: Barça, Culés

Interesting Fact: Barcelona was founded by Swiss, English and Catalan men in 1899.

In: Henry (Arsenal), Touré (Mónaco) Abidal (Lyón) Gabi Milito (Zaragoza)

Out: Van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord) Saviola (Real Madrid) Giuly (Roma) Maxi López (FC Moscú) Belletti (Chelsea)

Arrivals, but few departures.
The Catalans are bringing an absolutly tremendous team into La Liga this season. They had numerous world-class arrivals to the Camp Nou this summer, including Thierry Henry (Arsenal) Yaya Touré (from Monaco) Eric Abadal (Lyonnais) and Gabriel Milito (Real Zaragosa). All four of these players could start at any club in Europe and the four of them are now complimenting an already deep (and thats an understatement) Barcelona team from last year. Giovani Dos Santos is also a new arrival from the Barcelona ‘B’ team and has had an excellent pre-season scoring three goals in four games and has been praised by Rijkaard for his efforts. Dos Santos now does not have to get citizenship as Ronaldinho will become a Spanish citizen, allowing Dos Santos to count as one of the three non-EU players to have a roster spot on the team.

The only high-profile losses for the Catalans were Saviola, who ended up in Madrid as I predicted upon his departure from Barça, and Giuly who went to AS Roma. Both fell out of favor with Frank Rijkaard last season and their off-season departures were predicted early on.
Like a Rock

Oh yeah, I forgot about that good team they had last season. You know, that one with Ronaldinho, Puyol, Eto’o, Messi, Zambrotta. Yeah, that one. And yes, they are that good. They are actually scary good. Ronaldinho had a ‘rough’ last year, but will look to rebound this season with a TH14 by his side. Lionel Messi continues to improve with every passing moment, coming off of a great Copa America where he showed his flair and poise this summer. Carles Puyol aka ‘el tiburon’ is one of the best center backs on the planet and will anchor a Barça back four capped off by Victor Valdez in net.

Having names is not enough

Last season when Barça struggled, it was because of their lack of teamwork through the season. When Barça plays bad, it is completely obvious to see. They stop giving crisp passes and look to do to much individually. If Rijkaard can right the ship this season and help the team to play together, Barça will not have to come from behind to attempt to win La Liga this season.

Survey Says

Barça have too much firepower to be beat this year in my opinion. With the starting XI that they are able to field, and the ability to pull first-class players off the bench at a moments notice, the Catalans will be too tough and will take the La Liga crown this season.

Sevilla FC (3rd place in La Liga in 2007)

Stadium: Ramón Sánchez Pizjuan

Nicknames: Sevillistas, Rojiblancos

Interesting Fact: Sevilla is the current holder of four major trophies, the UEFA Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, the Copa Del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup

Haven’t had enough have we?

I’m sure I will be chastised for placing my beloved Sevilla in second place in La Liga next season. But honestly, why not? Much like Barcelona, Sevilla has lost two players in the off-season. Aitor Ocio went to Athletic Bilbao and Kepa Blanco left for Getafe. As of now, Dani Alves is still in the Rojo y Blanco, but he has expressed heavily his desire to move to Chelsea this season. Most are calling for the deal to be done soon, but I’m not so sure Sevilla will let him leave that easily.

That brings the point that we are returning the majority of our team from last season. That is the team that won the UEFA Cup for the second year in a row, finished third in La Liga AND won the Copa del Rey last season. That’s a double if you were counting at home, and not half bad. I should mention that we were in the La Liga hunt until the last moments, and had our chances at the top of the table during the season. If it wasn’t for our inability to win ‘easy’ games when it counted, we very well could have been champions of Spain.

FC Sevilla…Attack!

Sevilla wasn’t short of goalscorers last season, as the attacking corps are headed by former Premier League dud Fredi Kanouté, who finished with 21 goals in La Liga. Kanouté looks to win the Pichichi (highest Goal Scorer in Spain) this season. The other striker position will be filled by Luis Fabiano, or Ernesto Chevantón who were flip-flopped by Juande Ramos last season.

The Midfield will feature Jesus Navas and Poulson, who both shined last season. I hope that Diego Capel gets his chance this season for the ‘A’ team and we get to see who Sevilla have been grooming these past 3 years. Throw in the arrival of Khalid Boulahrouz on loan from Chelsea at a Defensive Midfielder position and Sevilla has a 6 player deep midfield that will be solid this season.

Andres Palop returns as keeper for Sevilla after having been impressive last season, even scoring a goal to keep Sevilla in the UEFA Cup.

Juande…don’t leave us

Rumors have had Sevilla skipper Juande Ramos moving to Tottenham this season, but Jose Maria del Nido has nicked that rumor stating that he will stay in Sevilla until at least July. Juande has been the leader in bringing Sevilla into it’s most successful years ever.

Survey Says

With a pre-season supercup win against Real Madrid on a 5-3 aggregate, Sevilla have looked even better than last season. The Sevillistas will continue to have success but cannot falter against lower clubs as they have in the past. They will finish at least third this season and will have a good run in the Champions League this season.


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19 Responses

  1. el madrid es el mejor

  2. hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii,,,, vivaaa real madrid and just reaaaal barchalonaaa such a loserzZzZ .. REAL REAL REAAAAAAAAL i lovee u guyzzz

  3. reaaal ahh ahh hw much i looooooooveeeeeee you.. great coool hotttttt, and great players specialy becham woooow daaaaamn it hot hot..

  4. CON MUCHO CARIÑO

  5. CON MUCHO CARIÑO

  6. YO SOY INCHA DE AMERICA DE CALI COLOMBIA PERO REAL MADRID Y BARSA ME PARECEN LOS MEJORES EQUIPOS DEL MUNDO

  7. AMERICA DE CALI EL MEJOR EQUIPO DEL MUNDO

  8. ME GUSTARIA UN CLASICO ENTRE REAL MADRID Y BARCELONA EN EL ESTDIO EL CAMPIN DE BOGOTA

  9. YO ME LLAMO JESÚS ALBERTO BAYONA ARÉVALO Y ME PUEDEN DECIR BETO

  10. Some interesting comments from people who probably don’t know much about spain or its football.

  11. A bit off subject – congratulations on Spain winning the Eurocup 2008. Well done lads.

  12. el mejor equipo es el SEVILLA

  13. jajaja gafooooooooooo

  14. we in other country also barca fans rejoice with barca over there victory against madrid.and we barca victory on madrid shall be a continous action

  15. barcelona had regain its stolen glory .cheers

  16. I found a really good website with latest football video highlights, Allfootballgoals.com
    it’s highly updated and it has the premier league, la liga, serie a, german league + all national cups and european cups and national teams.

    Johan

  17. didnt you hear the next big thing is immigration reform? they need MAC..

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