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 have Real Mallorca and Deportivo de la Coruña
Real Mallorca (12th in La Liga in 2006)
Stadium: ONI Estadi
Nickname: Barralets, Ensaimada Mecánica
Interesting Fact: Mallorca is actually in the Baleric Islands, the only La Liga team to not be located on the Spanish Mainland.
In: Valero (Castilla), Lux (River), Webo (Osasuna) , Molinero (Atlético de Madrid) ,David Navarro (Valencia) , Güiza (Getafe) ,Gonzalo Castro (Nacional de Montevideo)
Out: Prats, Tristán (Livorno), Maxi López (Barcelona), Jankovic (Palermo), Jordi López (Racing) , Delibasic (Real Sociedad)
What an interesting summer it’s been
Real Mallorca have had an interesting pre-season, finishing 5-0-3 for the summer. This includes two games won 10-1 and 10-0 respectively, but more importantly, a 3-0 win over Bayern Munich. Yeah, that was a Bayern Munich team playing mostly second-stringers, but it is still the team most people pick for total world domination this season, so it should go as some sort of credit to Mallorca. Manager Gregorio Manzano is attempting to improve upon his 12th place finish last season.
A mix of veterans and young blood
Mallorca will rely on a healthy mix of both veteran and young players to succeed in La Liga this season. Dani Güiza, who arrived from Getafe during the off season, has adapted well to his new Mallorican side, scoring 2 goals in a draw with Gronigen on 13 August and scoring one in the aforementioned match with Bayern Munich. Güiza scored 20 goals in 60 games for Getafe and looks to be the leading scorer for the Bermellones. Gonzalo Castro comes over from Uruguay to the Spanish league this season. He will be looking to score some goals for his side, but is also a tough player that will do whatever it takes for his side to get the win. German Luz comes to Mallorca via River Plate in Argentina and should play a solid role in backup for Moyá, who is an ode to the ‘cantera’ system that Real Mallorca has in place. Webo scored 4 goals this pre-season, more than he scored the entire last season at Osasuna.
Veteran Sergio Ballesteros is the oldest player on the squad at 32 years of age, but he is a staunch central defender who is always working hard. He said in an interview with as.com that he sees his team as being ‘very competitive’ and that ‘there is a good union and a good mix between veteran and new players, with good vibrations’
What they will look like
The pre-season for Mallorca has left the team well set for the start of La Liga that is this weekend. The back four should consist of Héctor, Ballesteros, Nunes and Fernando Navarro, while the midfield will see Jonás Gutiérrez, Varela, Castro, Tuni, and possibly Arango Ibagaza and Borja Valero will be the front runners for the central midfielders, while Güiza and Webó will be the strike force upfront.
Mallorca have made a great addition in Güiza and Webó, who will seem to solve the scoring drought that has plaged Mallorca in recent years. They have two world class keepers and a solid back four. Look for the Mallorican side to jump up a few spots this season as long as the men up front can finish and do their job.
Deportivo de la Coruña (13th in La Liga in 2006)
Stadium: Estadio Municipal de Riazor
Nicknames: Los Turcos (Spanish)/Os Turcos (Galician), Blanquiazules (Spanish)/Branquiazuis (Galician), SuperDepor
Interesting Fact: Deportivo fans fly Turkish flags because rival fans, especially those from Vigo, call Deportivo supporters “Turcos” to insult them. But the Riazor Blues section have taken this name with pride and therefore show Turkish flags during matches.
In: Pablo Amo (Recreativo), Rubén Castro (Gimnàstic), Xisco (Vecindario), Antonio Tomás (Racing), Momo (Racing), Guardado (Atlas), Manu (Sporting de Gijón), Lafita (Zaragoza), Aythami (Las Palmas), Filipe (Rentistas), Jairo (Sporting de Gijón)
Out: Capdevila (Villarreal), Duscher (Racing), Juanma (Tenerife) Arizmendi (Valencia) Estoyanoff (Valladolid) Andrade (Juventus) Joaquín Caparrós (entrenador)
What a fall from grace
If you rewind the clock back to 1999-2000, you would see that Deportivo was not only sucessful, but sucessful enough to win La Liga. Yes, it wasn’t Real Madrid nor Barcelona who won La Liga that season. It was the Turcos from La Coruña who brought victory to Depor and it’s loyal fan base.
Now, bring it back to the present and here we are 7 years later. Depor is in a state of transition, sitting in 13th place after last season, and on the brink of either moving back up the table to glory or to see a complete fall from grace and be relegated from La Liga. They have not made the Champions League since 2003-2004 and have finished no higher than 8th place since then.
Putting all your eggs in
one two baskets
Depor looks to two men to help change what is happening in the Riazor. After ousting Joaquín Caparros from his duities as head coach, Depor looks to Miguel Ángel Lotina to take over the reins and guide this team to victory from the sidelines.
The second person is Andrés Guardado a newcomer to the squad from Atlas, who has already taken over a leadership role after only one month with his new club. The Mexican left winger was quoted as saying that there is ‘A lot of optimism in Depor and that I hope we get off on the right foot on Sunday (the first day of La Liga)’ Some are touting Guardado to be the next big thing in La Liga, but that will have to wait to be seen after the first few weeks of action.
A new Depor
Lotina likes to keep things strong in the back four, with Manuel Pablo heading the back four and Guarado coming into control the midfield and the rest of the pitch with his presence. Lotina will bring a new style of play to the Riazor as he will have a solid back line, a pacy midfield that can deliver passes when necessary, and forwards that can finish when they are given the opportunity. Juan Rodriguez and De Guzman will be the main Central Defensive Midfielders, while Riki looks to be getting the nod upfront after scoring 5 goals last season.
However, Lotina is still in search of a Left Center wing and a true goal scoring forward. These two pieces to his puzzle are crucial for success in Depor and to bring back a winning team to La Coruña.
Until Depor can find a true goal scorer that can generate 20 goals a year, they will not have enough firepower to catapoult them to their former glory. Don’t look for Depor to climb more than a few spots this season, unless they can sign Soldado or another forward who is looking to start over at a new club.
Filed under: Deportivo, La Liga, Mallorca | 1 Comment »