· Senior Poster of the year 2007
REAL MADRID CF
Real Madrid are the title holders, after they won their 2nd consecutive league, something they didn't do since 1990. So Real Madrid are the big favourites, the team to beat. In the last 2 years, Real Madrid showed to be a team. The team, the union, the work ethic were the keys of their triumph. In a team full of talented players, the block is the star over any individual. This summer, despite the president Calderón wanted to add a big name to this team, Real Madrid continue in the same direction. More of the same, the team that won the last title plus Rafael Van der Vaart to strength the attacking positions.
The summer was calm in Madrid until Robinho exploded, asking for a transfer to Chelsea. Perhaps this is the only dark point of this new Real Madrid. We still don't know if Robinho is leaving and we don't know if Madrid will finally sign a last minute replacement for him. We don't know the consequences of this story, but they can only hope that the team do not get affected by this distraction and the bad atmosphere that grow from it. Aside this, the age of some key players, like Van Nistelrooy, Raul or Guti, is something that might be a problem soon, and this is something Madrid didn't solve yet.
With or without Robinho, this Madrid are the same team that won La Liga last year and they'll try to keep their essences one more season to achieve a 3rd consecutive title, something that noone did in Spain since the Cruyff's Dream Team. Real Madrid recovered the crown and now it's time to make history.
The "Submarine" completed their best season in La Liga and this is not surprise anymore. Since Manuel Pellegrini joined the club, the team have constantly been among the elite of the Spanish football, in the top positions of the standings.
The objective is to stay in these positions. The difference of budgets with Madrid or Barcelona makes impossible to demand the title. On the other hand, there's enough talent to make things difficult to the big favourites and they want to be there, waiting for a possible mistake from the giants. The recepie, more of the same. Roig once again mixed talented young players (bringing Altidore) with veteran proven players, like Ibagaza. The result is a solid team that know Pellegrini's ideas with total perfection, a team that don't feel small anymore.
The big danger is to forget their roots. Villarreal is the club of a small town and, despite the money of Roig, the key of the success is the hard work and the humble attitude. Being among the big clubs can make them feel the perspective of reality, ask Deportivo. They should never forget this.
Guardiola, a Catalan legend of the barcelonisme, has the responsability to make Barcelona champion again. The last 2 years, the blaugranes saw how their European champion team collapsed, declined and now disappeared. 2 years without titles is too much for a big club and the fans have a mix of renovated illussion and impatience.
It's too early to say. But if the pre-season had a winner, Guardiola's Barça was the one. The image was fantastic: pressure in all the field, good flow in the game, talent, hard working attitude... this Barcelona pretends to recover the aspects that made them be the best team on Earth not so long ago.
In any case, Guardiola won't have it easy. It's his first experience as a coach in the top level and he appears on stage with an important social division in the club, for now hidden, but a division that can explode in any moment. Aside this, the team suffered a revolution. Two of the flags of the past, Ronaldinho and Deco, left the club. Now Messi has to fill the hole left by Ronaldinho. The rest of the signings pretend to renovate the mid class of the team, adding talent and new hunger. And, Eto'o, first forgotten, now the surprising "new" idol of the fans. His goals may be the key again. The fans want a title and they want it now.
ATLETICO CLUB MADRID
Atletico finally reached the so wished Champions League zone to return to the elite of football (although they can still ruin it, if they don't beat Schalke). In many times in history, Atletico Madrid was the only team that was able to defy the dictatorship of Real Madrid and Barcelona and they're goal is to be it again.
This Atletico finally found a super-star. Noone recalls Torres anymore, since "Kun" Agüero fills the heart of the atléticos. Agüero finally became the star he is in a fantastic season. Now he's the natural leader and the image of the team. Aside him, Forlán will be his best support in attack once again. This Agüero-Forlán duo can make the difference if the rest of the team are able to keep a good level.
And this is the problem, the rest of the team. The new signings (Ujfalusi and Heitinga) pretend to reinforce a defense that was the main problem of the team last year. Even though it's too soon, this Atletico didn't improve much. Besides, Atletico desperately look for a midfielder that adds some talent and creativity to a line that was desgined to destroy, not to create. If Atletico finally find ballance, keep them an eye.
Alves, Poulsen, Keita... all gone. Is this the end of the dream? Del Nido and Monchi always knew that the team should always be over any individual and they work in the same direction. It's not me, Del Nido says that they have the best team ever and they want to win La Liga.
The truth is that Sevilla is a solid team. Last year, the tragedy of Puerta and the betrayal desgined by Juande Ramos after 5 weeks were a heavy wheight to carry during the year. Now things are different, the squad looks good, young, hungry and ready to fight for anything with that nice mix of attitude and quality. The arrivals pretend to cover the spaces left by the departures and, in this pre-season, there are not reasons to think they can't do it. Fernando Navarro, Acosta, Romaric, Squillacci... Sevilla always bring these players to make them stars later.
In any case, we'll have to see if Del Nido and Monchi can keep the team as high as it was in the last years. The departures were important and you never know with the new signings. In any case, once they leave the doubts behind, if they feel confident enough, they're a team that are able to beat anyone anywhere, a terrible rival, a potential champion.
RACING CLUB SANTANDER
Here they are, the same team that surprised everyone last year... except Marcelino. To start, Racing should be realistic and their goal is to stay in Primera without much problems. Once they reach this goal, then they can think about Europe again.
Racing showed to be a reliable squad last year. Their tactical discipline and their hard work made them be a solid team, able to get good results. The new coach, Juan Ramon Lopez, the one who promoted Malaga to Primera, has the hard task of making the racinguistas forget Marcelino. Now Muñiz must continue the good work.
Racing can not get crazy. History proves that Europe is a dream for these teams... a dream that can become a nightmare, if they're not able to realize how hard to play 2 games per week. Besides, some columns of this team aren't preciselly young. Dangers exist, but they earned the right to dream.
Mallorca reinvent themselves once again. The new British owner, Paul Davidson, doesn't change the selling phylosphy the club have since long ago. You can't say that they've failed with this phylosophy, although every new year is a mystery for them.
Manzano and his tactical skills will be their main strength once again. The coach start his 3rd consecutive season in the club and this stability makes them reliable in this aspect. Despite the departures, the club will try to enter in the European zone again and they still have good players to do it.
In any case, the loss of "Pichichi" Güiza, Ibagaza, Jonás or Borja Valero are very important and the new signings will have to do very well to make the mallorquinistas forget them. Arango will carry the team on his shoulders once again and let's see if the rest are able to help him to keep the level.
The revelation team last year, from newly promoted to flirt with Europe. Emery and his guys made a great season and the goal is to repeat it. Now, Gonzalo Arconada, the boss of the Numancia that promoted to Primera last year, is the new coach of this team.
Almería didn't change much. They're more or less the same group of players that were able to do such a good season, so there's material to repeat something similar, although they can not forget that staying in Primera is their goal. It's true they lost a key player like Felipe Melo, but they also brought Julio Alvarez, Pallerano or Piatti to reinforce the team.
Emery was the leader of this team, a leader in the bench. Now the new coach has the duty to continue with the work done by his precessor. The danger is to forget their real goal and the 2nd season can be more dangerous than the first.
Last year, Deportivo suffered during the first half of the season to finally complete a good season in an extraordinary second round. Lotina made the right tactical changes, when the water was about to suffocate the team. He desgined a lineup with 5 defenders and the team grew from this defensive mentality.
The club still carry the economic problems, but the club of Riazor was able to keep the same block. The departure of Coloccini is important, but the club brought Ze Castro instead and the colective work should make the difference. And, of course, an important "signing": Juan Carlos Valerón.
The team have limitations and they can never be compared with the Super-Depor that amazed the whole world. The bad attendances in Riazor show how nostalgic their fans still are, it's difficult to adapt to this tough reality. The economic crisis do not help either. Depor can hope hard work makes them go up again.
What a summer in Valencia. The presidency of Juan Soler was a nightmare for the valencianismo. The consequences of the terrible management of the president made the team fight to avoid relegation. Even though they saved the season with the Copa del Rey title, the fans reacted with anger against their president, who made everything in his hands to sell the club.
Before leaving, Soler brought Unai Emery, the surprise coach of last season, to drive the Valencia of the dark years. Valencia fight the economic crisis trying to keep their stars and the efforts of the club focused in convincing David Villa and David Silva to stay in Valencia. They can safely say that these are the best "signings" this year. The group of players is good and now Emery must get the best of them.
The problems are evident though. The economic crisis made impossible to reinforce a team that showed evident problems last year. In this situation, it's hard to create illussion among the fans, so the team will have to be the ones that convince the fans on the pitch. Besides, we still have to see if the battles of power in Valencia are definitely over... will Soriano finally buy the whole pack of shares of Soler?
Athletic are a different kind of club. Many times, their results depend on a state of mind rather than any other aspect. Athletic are pretty much the same team they were last year, so any improvement will be based on their development as group, not in signings.
Caparrós was able to take Athletic out of the bottom part of the standings, where Athletic struggled in the previous seasons. In any case, Athletic is a club of pride and, despite their blind support, the fans will start to demand more this year. Caparrós was brave to give the chance to some youngsters that should start to make the difference this year. The experience will be in their side.
But Athletic can not forget that the work ethic and the passion is what make them difference. The danger is to feel comfortable in the low zone. Athletic always were a big club of Spain and, despite their sign of identity, they should look for success, not using their tradition as an excuse, but as strength.
Espanyol face an important season. Last year, Espanyol wanted to consolidate their position among the top teams of La Liga and they failed. The era of Marquez starts now and it's difficult to know how it will be.
Espanyol have showed to have one of the best youth academies in La Liga and the team is full of young Catalan players with talent. This connection between fans and players is one of the keys of the recent success of the team and, knowing that Espanyol aren't a rich club, they must be the key of the future results.
The main problem is to know if the spaces that the youth academy can't cover will be filled by the players that come from the outside. In fact, these weeks have been full of rumours about Riera and Luis Garcia leaving the club. This is a problem, since the team can not depend just on the goals of Tamudo. Let's see how the experiment turns out.
Last year, Getafe tasted the glory of Europe in a great run in the UEFA Cup. A run that distracted the team in La Liga. In any case, this is a team that already consolidated a comfortable position in La Liga and, despite their goal is to stay in Primera, they also want to grow in La Liga.
Getafe changed a bit. This time they didn't base their squad in the loaned players from big clubs and now they try to keep a group of players. They kept the main column of the team, aside the departure of De la Red, but they kept Granero and even signed the star of Liga de Quito, current Copa Libertadores champions, the Ecuatorian player Guerrón, and will give a new chance to a reliable player like Soldado.
In the doubtful side, the new coach also breaks the line of rookie coaches that look for success. Victor Muñoz is well known in Primera División, although his results have never been great. Let's see if Victor is able to keep the level of his predecesors.
REAL BETIS BALOMPIÉ
The long shadow of Lopera stil drives the destiny of this club. Despite all the rumours, Lopera still is the owner of the blanquiverdes. The team didn't change much, although they still gave a new face to the midfield, where Mehmet Aurelio is supposed to be the anchor man of the defensive midfield and the arrival of Emana, who will pretend to give fresh air to the attacking midfield.
This time Betis bet for continuity. Chaparro continues driving the team and they hope to give a new impulse to the team to break the recent mediocre results. Betis need to look their rivals Sevilla face to face and this year they'll try to do it. Small, but important changes, this is what they need.
The worst of all is the inestability of the club. Lopera doesn't enjoy a good reputation in the beticismo recently and the rumours about his departure exist. Noone knows much about the future of the team and this clould be a problem in the mid term.
The success of Valladolid must be based on the dominance of the team over any individuality, so they have to overcome the departure of Joseba Llorente. The goal is to consolidate the team in Primera División.
The club have made a bet for continuity. Mendilibar will drive the team for the 3rd season in a row, a fact not very common in the humble teams. Mendilibar takes care of every detail, since he knows that the team must be a block. This stability should let them keep what they have and grow from it.
It's evident that, when you lose a good striker like Joseba Llorente, you will miss him. The club signed Goitom and Sesma, two players that have some reputation in Segunda, although they have never done much in Primera. For these teams, the 2nd season in Primera may be more difficult than the first, since the early euphoria disappear. They must keep the illussion in the battle to avoid relegation.
The oldest club of Spain face their 3rd consecutive season in Primera. Zambrano, the saviour, has been given the chance of keeping the team in Primera one more year. For it, they must find the right mix to fill the holes left by some many changes this summer.
When you're in your 3rd season, you must always grow. Last year, Recre struggled to stay in Primera and now the goal is not to suffer that much. The material to do it is young, but full of illussion. More than 10 signings to change everything in this infinite revolution, most of them young. These players already know that some of their predecesors were able to jump to better clubs after a good season in Huelva. The individual selfishness must help the team.
The loss of players like Sinama-Pongolle or Caceres is always difficult to cover. The continuous changes in the squad do not help to keep the necessary stability and, on paper, you can feel Recre is going to suffer one more year. In their hands, the chance to prove everyone wrong.
Patxi Izco always was a calm man that trust in stability as the best attitude to face the problems. So Ziganda was given one more chance and the main column of the team is pretty much the same one. Their experience should be enough to stay in Primera one more year.
The departures have been covered by young players with hunger like Sunny and old legends of the club like Santi Ezquerro. From knowing their own limitations, they already know that hard work and attitude are the essence of a club that many times achieved results from them. Finding their own identity would be a good first step to start to walk.
In any case, Osasuna must keep in mind that they should know how to suffer, because the team already passed two difficult years and it can easily happen again. Osasuna can not relax and must always keep in mind their limits. This could be another difficult year again.
Numancia refers to the old Roman name of the celtiberian town of Soria that resited the Roman Empire for more than 25 years. Finally, they decided to suicide as free men and burned their own town, before being slaves of the Romans. Nowadays, Soria is the smallest capital of a province in Spain, the most isolated province of all Europe. As their predecesors in history, the humble sorianos want to resist the empires that dominate in Primera.
Once again, their goal is the permanence and, in fact, it's already a success to be here. With no pressure on them, with the total support of the fans, they already know that anything they do will be a total success. Kresic will be the experience man to drive a team of young and illussionated people that wants to make history in Soria.
Being realistic, Numancia do not have the money to be in Primera (perhaps not even in Segunda) and they're the big favourites to go down. In any case, they already showed they can do it well and Los Pajaritos will continue being a hell for anyone that goes in, the Siberia of Spain, where Barcelona never won and Madrid only did once... although they also got defeated on the ice of Soria.
A big city like Malaga see how their team return to Primera after 2 years. Fernando Sanz, before captain, now president, gives Antonio Tapia the chance to drive the team in their return to Primera. If the economic problems allow it, Malaga wants to return to stay.
Malaga already knows the cathegory and many new players have experience in Primera División, like the coach. Malaga look for compromise and it's a necessity for the survival to stay in Primera, if they want to complete the economic puzzle they have.
They'll have a ticket to suffer, if they're unable to overcome the lack of "stars". Malaga already knows that it's not enough to play well. They can also hope to cover the loss of Hidalgo, their leader in Segunda, now in Zaragoza.
REAL SPORTING GIJON
Sporting are one of these historical clubs that are always welcome in Primera. Nearly one decade after their relegation, Sporting return to where they belong. The club of Quini, Luis Enrique, Ablanedo, Abelardo, Joaquin, Juanele... Sporting were always known by their great youth academy, always producing stars. Now "Mareo" must support their A team to stay in Primera.
Sporting trust in the block of the promotion. Manuel Preciado, a coach with a good reputation in Primera, have been training in Segunda due to the prestige of the club. Now Preciado must do everything in his hands to keep the team in Primera. Without stars, they can not be scared of Primera and they must keep the big union among coach, players and fans.
It won't be easy. Sporting have been suffering in Segunda for years and a generation of sportinguistas don't remember to see their team in Primera. It's evident that their success will be based on illussion, attitude and hard work. These aspects must make the difference if they don't want to go back to hell.