Spain La Liga 2012-13 Preview (Part 1)
Many people feel that Spain Primera is the best league in world football. There's no denying they have two of the best teams in the world and the two best players in the world no doubt. But aside from Real Madrid and Barcelona and Lionel Messi and Ronaldo can the league claim to be the best when the top two teams are so superior to the rest. Here we will run down all the teams, star players and managers along with betting advice.
Athletic Bilbao -(10th last year) The Basque club had a terrific season until mid March, They were flying and beating all and sundry in Europa Liga (including Man Utd home and away), but alas they foundered in the league and were dismantled 3-0 in the Europa Liga final to Atletico. Still stick to the Basque only policy, its been somewhat relaxed of late to include descendants. Will play in Europa Liga again as runners up in Copa Del Rey.
Squad Changes: Isma Lopez and Aritz Aduriz in.No major outs.
Main Man - Javi Martinez - Excellent player who can cover a few positions, mainly defence or central midfield. He is coveted by many teams around Europe and would be a major loss for Athletic.
Young Gun - Iker Munian - Left winger with incredible pace and acceleration. Very direct and tricky, but also composed for such a young player.
Top Scorer - Fernando Llorente never played a minute in Spain's Euro 2012 victory which is a shame for him as he had an excellent 2012 season. Very powerful and great in the air. Has presence and is a great finisher too. Scored 30 in 53 games last season.
Coach - Marco Bielsa is considered one of the most innovative coaches of the modern era. The Chilean likes to play exciting, attacking football with unorthodox formations and tactics. Extremely methodical and almost obsessive. Plays a 3-3-1-3 formation. Has a massive problem as both Martinez and Llorente look likely to leave, even threatened to quit himself over the summer in a bust up over training facilities.
La Liga Odds:161.0 Without Barce & R.Madrid:10.0. Top 4 Finish:3.25. Top Scorer:F.Llorente:41.0.
Atletico Madrid (5th last year) had a good season and have the foundations for success laid at long last. A respected coach is in and they have already made money in the summer in some transfer dealings. If they can hold onto star names they could find themselves in Champions League next year. Won the Europa Liga last season and will defend it this year as they go straight into the group stages.
Squad Changes - Defender Cata Diaz and midfielders Cristian Rodriguez and Emre come in. Defender Dominguez leaves the club.
Main Man & Top Scorer - Colombian hitman Radamel Falcao is considered one the the best strikers in world football. Is a clinical finisher, really fast and good with both feet and in the air. Is capable of scoring all types of goals. Scored 36 goals in 50 games last season.
Young Gun - Adrian is a player that a lot of teams are taking a look at. Small, compact forward with great movement he has improved his game massively over the least year or so. Scored 19 goals in 55 games last season.
Coach - Diego Simeone has already managed 7 teams in his short 6 year stint as coach. He is an old fashioned manager with strong no nonense style. Is reportedly half killing his players with 3 training sessions a day. Likes to have a strong defensive unit and his teams tend to kill off games. Prefers the two holding midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
La Liga Odds:81.0 Without Barce & R.Madrid:3.50. Top 4 Finish:2.10. Top Scorer:R.Falcao:26.0.
Barcelona (2nd) Had an awful season by their lofty standards finishing runners up in the Liga and losing in the Champions League Semis to Chelsea. They did however win the World Club Cup and the Copa Del Rey so it wasn't a complete wash out. Guardiola left the club and it will be interesting to see how understudy Tito Villanova gets on. Still boast the best player in world football and play the best game of football of any team in the world.
Player Changes - Defender Jordi Alba and young midfielder Joan Angel Roman in. Seydou Keita heads out.
Main Man and Top Scorer - Lionel Messi is the current time 3 time world player of the year and golden shoe holder. The dimunitive Argentine is quite simply breathtaking. Amazing close control, speed and acceleration. Passing and movement is top class and his finishing is of the highest level. Has scored an unbelievable 253 goals in only 329 games for Barcelona. Last season scored 73 goals in 60 games, including 10 hattricks.
Young Gun - Jordi Alba is a name most will recognise now after such a successful Euro 2012. The Valencia left back fitted in so perfectly with Barce players Xavi, Iniesta and Pique that it was inevitable he was going to end up at the Camp Nou. A ball playing speedy wing back who can defend aswell as join in the attacks is a no brainer for Barce, will fit in perfectly and improve the first eleven.
Coach - Tito Villanova is perhaps best known for being on the recieving end of a Mourinho thumb to the eye in one of last years "El Classico" many on field brawls. Has an impossible job following on from Guardiola but he will play the same basic style with the same team with the addition of Alba. Barce B played with the usual 4-3-3 that the senior side mainly uses although the senior side did change to 3-4-3 at times last year.
La Liga Odds:2.20. Top Scorer:L.Messi 2.20
Celta Vigo (Segunda) - The Galicians return to the top tier for the first time in five seasons. Have experienced financial difficulties over the years but that hasn't stopped them making several signings already.
Squad Changes - Keeper Javi Varas, defenders Gustavo Cabral and Samuel Lorca. With Midfielder Augusto Fernandez also drafted in.
Main Man - Enrique de Lucas is an attacking midfielder with extensive experience. Playmaker of the squad and is the dead ball specialist. Scored 9 in 37 games last season.
Young Gun - Hugo Mallo is a highly promising attacking right back who has represented the national team at all the youth levels. Has played over 100 games for Celta even though he's only 21.
Top Scorer - Iago Aspas is a striker who makes the best of his abilities. A lightweight player he does not have the physical style but he has great positioning and finishing skills. Fast and good movement in the box this forward is good in the air too which is surprising for his size. Scored 25 goals in 38 games last season.
Manager - Paco Herrera is a coach best remembered for his stint in the backroom of Liverpool when they won their last Champions League. Took over at Celta the year before last and his even handed coaching style eventually brought them the promotion they craved. Has had a varied career with over 12 lower league Spanish teams managed in his long career. Is another coach preferring the two holding midfielders in the 4-2-3-1 formation. Will have his work cut out here though as they currently have a tiny squad, needs additions to all areas.
La Liga Odds:5001.0 Without Barce & R.Madrid:251.0. Top 4 Finish:101. Top Scorer:I.Aspas:51.0.
Deportivo La Coruna (Segunda) Spent just the one season in the 2nd tier and bounced back alongside fellow Galicians Celta Vigo. Have made many loan signings but lost a key player in Mexican Guardado, however they look stronger than the other promoted sides and should hold their own in what is always a tight lower half of the table.
Squad Changes - Defenders Carlos Marchena,Roderick Miranda and Evaldo join. Midfielders Javier Camunas, Abel Aguilar and Andre Santos arrive with forwards Nelson Oliveira and Pizzi taking their places in the new look squad. Out go Diego Colotto and Andres Guardado.
Main Man - Juan Valeron seems to have been at Depor forever. The attacking midfielder may not have the legs anymore but his quality is still there. Experience will be vital come start of the season, especially with the high turnover of players they have had.
Young Gun - Bruno Gama is a tricky right winger who provides good ammunition for the front men but is capable of scoring himself. Takes a good free kick also.
Top Scorer: The Tunisian international Lassad has been a Depor player for the last 5 seasons. Links up well with Riki and both players had a decent season. Lassad scored 17 times in 44 games.
Manager - Jose Luis Oltra is the much travelled coach of Depor. Had his team playing good football in the lower tier but has already stated results in Primera are more important than perfomance which doesn't bode well. Has a difficult task to get everyone together after so many ins and outs. Another coach who plays with the two holding midfielders in the 4-2-3-1.
La Liga Odds:2501.0 Without Barce & R.Madrid:151.0. Top 4 Finish:34.0
Espanyol (14th) Barcelona's second club are set for another season of struggles after having to wheel and deal over the summer. Only finished 3 points above the relegation zone and have lost one of their better players from last season.
Squad Changes - Defenders Joan Capdevila and Diego Colotto. Midfielders Ramon Morant, Wakaso Mubarak and Sergio Tejera. Out go key man Javi Marquez and Jordi Amat. Kalu Uche loan deal expired and he's left.
Main Man - Hector Moreno had an excellent debut season in La Liga, The central defender was an ever present in the side and gave some assured displays, chipping in with 3 goals too. May find himself out the door as one of Espanyol's more saleable assets.
Young Gun - Alvaro Vazquez could be the next big thing for the Catalonians. Can play in either striking role or as link man. Excellent movement, pace and control, only really lacking clinical finishing but he's working on that.
Top Scorer - Five players tied on a pityful 5 goals to top the charts. Uche and Coutinho have already left, Midfielder Verdu, Sergio Garcia and Vazquez remain.
Coach - Mauricio Pochettino graduated from ex-player to coach and has been in charge since 2009 which in La Liga terms is a long time. The Argentine has worked miracles at his club over the years on one of the lowest budgets in the league. Has to continually sell his best players to have any chance of competing. Plays the 4-2-3-1 but places more emphasis on killing space and the defensive side of it.
La Liga Odds:1001.0 Without Barce & R.Madrid:51.0. Top 4 Finish:13.0.
Getafe (11th) Another club scammed by Middle Eastern money making schemes. Getafe Team Dubai never taking off after the promise of investment. Finished comfortably in mid table but have seen the talented younger players all shipped out. One of the more stable teams in La Liga but will have taken a knock after the promised money never materialised.
Squad Changes - Keeper Miguel Moya loan move made permanent. Defender David Abraham joins along with Midfielders Xavi Torres and Angel Lafita. Pedro Leon rejoins for another season long loan.
Main Man - Pedro Leon checks in for another loan spell at Getafe. The attacking midfielder has all the attributes of a top player but his attitude is the only thing stopping him, has had several run ins with management. Big season ahead as he tries to establish himself as a top level player. Really good from free kicks and has tremendous crossing ability, dangerous from distance with his shots.
Young Gun - Abdel Barrada was one of the players of the season for Getafe last year, the young Moroccan is a very exciting prospect. Comfortable on the ball, skillfull and a good passer. Was one of the standout players for his country in the recent olympic football event. Scored 7 goals in 35 games last season from the midfield.
Top Scorer - Nicolas Fedor (or Miku) has spent several years drifting around the Segunda league with little success,however seemed to be transformed since arriving at Getafe. The Venezuelan is a formidable forward with great strength and pace and good ariel threat. Has a good record over the last few years internationally too. Scored 12 in 40 for Getafe last year.
Coach - Luis Garcia Plaza is another coach who has spent his early years moving season to season in the lower leagues. Really came to the fore with his management of financially stricken Levante. Getting them promotion from Segunda with a team who hadn't been paid for months.
La Liga Odds:2501.0 Without Barce & R.Madrid:101.0. Top 4 Finish:34.0. Top Scorer:Miku 251.0
Parts 2 & 3 to follow.