With over half of the season and the Winter Transfer Window behind us, it is the right time to start making reasonable predictions on this year’s La Liga’s final outline. Guillermo Guridi, Impact Sports Contributor, has carefully analysed the various factors that could affect this season’s outcome. Here’s his forecast:
Let’s start from the bottom. A few teams are struggling to demonstrate they’re worthy of belonging to ‘the best league in the world.’ Levante, Rayo Vallecano, Granada, Sporting, Las Palmas, Espanyol and Betis seem at the moment to have the greatest odds of being relegated. All of them are within just five points of each other, which doesn’t seem a differentiating factor. However, while Espanyol, Granada, Rayo Vallecano, Betis and Levante aren’t having the greatest of all seasons, Las Palmas and Sporting are taking this time as a transition period between the second and the first tiers of Spanish football.
Consolidation in La Liga is their goal, and any finish above the 18th place will be a success. An opposite case is that of Espanyol and Granada, who should have no trouble in the first division and perhaps begin dreaming of Europe. Betis are also facing some trouble. Despite being a newly-promoted club, their original goal was much more than just remaining in La Liga, aspiration that now seems implausible mainly due to their inability to score.
Nevertheless, the Winter Transfer Period could potentially become a turning point for some of these teams. Granada, Levante and Rayo Vallecano have all strengthened their squads with renowned players like, respectively, Barral, Ricardo Costa or Isaac Cuenca; Giuseppe Rossi, Joan Verdú or Lucas Orbán, and Piti, Özbiliz or Iturra. On the other hand, the few acquisitions made by Las Palmas, Espanyol, Betis and Sporting are a risky move by these clubs, who perhaps prefer quality over quantity. It seems particularly remarkable that, for instance, Betis haven’t signed a striker despite only having scored 15 times so far.
In the middle of the table and far from higher goals are Real Sociedad, Málaga, Getafe and Valencia. The latter’s season is below everyone’s expectations. Gary Neville hasn’t quite been able to change the situation at the Mediterranean side and their fans, whilst still furious, are slowly coming to reality.
Cheryshev and Siqueira could help the team improve, but it doesn’t seem that they will be enough. The club faces major issues that will be hard to solve before the end of this season. Meanwhile, Real Sociedad are in a similar position, already used to mediocrity despite their high potential, whilst Málaga and Getafe dream of Europe, which is still far.
Yet, Málaga’s loss of Amrabat will be noticed, although they will try to mitigate it with the newly acquired Uche, Atsu and Chory Castro. If they keep up the good work, we might see them with possibilities of doing something big. It’s worth dreaming.
A bit further up are Deportivo, Eibar, Celta Vigo, Sevilla, Athletic and Villarreal. Six teams for two, although possibly three, Europa League places and one Champions League ticket. There will be three Europa League positions as long as the Copa del Rey winners, who gain access to the tournament, finish the league in a place which would grant them entrance into a European competition irrespective of their performance in the Copa.
With Valencia, Barcelona, Celta and Sevilla as semi-finalists, the winner is likely to be doing well in La Liga too. Sevilla seem to have finally taken off and they will be difficult to stop. Same goes for Athletic, whilst Villarreal are keeping up the good work and should perhaps be with the big three rather than in this group. The reason why they’re here is that by the end of the season they will unlikely be competing against Real Madrid, Barça and Atlético Madrid, but this group, or some of the sides in it, will be their main rivals.
On the other hand, Celta Vigo have slowed down and lost a few positions over the past month. Probably due to Nolito’s injury, the Galician’s flagship player, and the reluctant sell of Augusto Fernández, team captain and leader until January, to Atlético Madrid. The signings of Marcelo Díaz and Claudio Beavue, along with Nolito’s comeback, should bring the team to the good old days. But Eibar are not backing down, despite having the lowest budget in the league.
Their outstanding season can only get better with Jota back in the squad and the additions of Radoševi? and Ansotegui. Deportivo are perhaps the weaker team in the group, with financial issues and a style of play that’s not very convincing, but so far they have managed to overcome everyone’s expectations and their star Lucas Pérez is making them dream big. There will be an interesting battle for Europe, that is certain. Perhaps with an unexpected result. This is football, after all.
The top three table positions have been given out long ago. At first the order might have been unclear, but it is not anymore. Barcelona are untouchable. They are on their way to make history, again. Atlético have lost some faith after the fair 2-1 defeat at Camp Nou last weekend, whilst Real Madrid lost their way long ago. Former star Zinedine Zidane has had a small effect in the team’s performance and this season has become a hopeless waste of time for them.
Here is Guillermo’s prediction for La Liga 2015/2016:
- Atlético Madrid
- Real Madrid
- Celta Vigo
- Athletic Club
- Real Sociedad
- Rayo Vallecano
- Las Palmas
Words by Guillermo Guridi Alvarez.
Image courtesy of ‘Daniel’ via Flickr.