Soccer

Spanish League at a glance

Share This Story

   
 

MADRID (AP)

A look at the Spanish league teams ahead of the new season, which begins on Saturday:

Almeria

Founded: 1989.

Colors: red and white

Stadium: Juegos Mediterraneos (capacity 12,000)

Coach: Francisco Rodriguez (first season)

Honors: none

Last season: promoted

Key acquisitions: Jesus ''Suso'' Fernandez (Liverpool), Sebastian Dubarbier (Cordoba), Nelson Augusto (Palermo), Rodrigo Rios (Barcelona B), Oscar Ustari (Boca Juniors)

Significant departures: Charles (Celta Vigo)

Prospects: Almeria returns to the first division after a two-season absence. Its fate will hinge on its new homegrown manager, Francisco Rodriguez, who was promoted from its reserve team at the age of 34, making him the youngest coach in Spain's topflight.

Athletic Bilbao

Founded: 1898

Colors: red, white and black

Stadium: New San Mames (capacity 53,000)

Coach: Ernesto Valverde (first season)

Honors: 8 leagues, 23 cups

Last season: 12th

Key acquisitions: Benat Etxebarria (Real Betis), Kike Sola (Osasuna), Mikel Balenziaga (Valladolid), Xabier Etxeita (Elche)

Significant departures: Fernando Llorente (Juventus), Fernando Amorebieta (Fulham)

Prospects: Former Bilbao player Ernesto Valverde begins his second stint as the team's coach looking to lead the club past the tumultuous past two seasons under Marcelo Bielsa and restructure its attack following the exit of Fernando Llorente. Valverde has been cautious not to set expectations to high, but a Europa League spot with a 5th- or 6th-place finish should be in reach for a young team packed with talent in the midfield.

Atletico Madrid

Founded: 1903

Colors: red, white and blue

Stadium: Vicente Calderon (capacity 54,851)

Coach: Diego Simeone (Argentina, third season)

Honors: 9 leagues, 10 cups, 2 Europa Leagues, 1 European Cup Winners' Cup, 1 World Club Championship, 1 European Super Cup

Last season: third

Key acquisitions: David Villa (Barcelona), Martin Demichelis (Malaga), Baptistao (Rayo Vallecano), Jose Maria Gimenez (Danubio)

Significant departures: Radamel Falcao (Monaco), Cata Diaz (Boca Juniors), Sergio Asenjo (Villarreal)

Prospects: Atletico Madrid should consolidate its status as the ''best of the rest'' of the league after Barcelona and Real Madrid in its third season under Diego Simeone and with Spain striker David Villa arriving to fill in for Radamel Falcao up front.

Barcelona

Founded: 1899

Colors: navy and crimson

Stadium: Camp Nou (capacity 98,772)

Coach: Gerardo Martino (Argentina, first season)

Last season: champion

Honors: 4 European Cups, 4 European Cup Winners' Cups, 3 Inter City Fairs Cups, 4 European Supercups, 22 leagues, 26 cups, 2 Club World Cups

Key acquisitions: Neymar (Santos)

Significant departures: David Villa (Atletico Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Eric Abidal (Monaco)

Prospects: Barcelona is favored to add to its four titles in the past five seasons after signing Brazil sensation Neymar to form a deadly attacking duo with four-time world player of the year Lionel Messi. The only concerns for the Catalan club are how well Messi and Neymar will share the spotlight and how quickly Argentine Gerardo Martino adapts to his first coaching job in Europe after he took over for the ill Tito Vilanova.

Celta Vigo

Founded: 1923

Colors: sky blue and white

Stadium: Balaidos (capacity 31,800)

Coach: Luis Enrique (first season)

Honors: none

Last season: 17th

Key acquisitions: Charles (Almeria), Rafina (Barcelona B), Andreu Fontas (Barcelona), Manuel ''Nolito'' Agudo (Granada), Jon Aurtenetxe (Celta Vigo)

Significant departures: Iago Aspas (Liverpool), Roberto Lago (Getafe), Javi Varas (Sevilla).

Prospects: By signing former Roma coach Luis Enrique, Celta Vigo is apparently looking to move away from its defensive tactics that had it on the brink of relegation last season. Whether Enrique, a former Barcelona midfielder, can lift the team from the bottom of the table is another question.

Elche

Founded: 1923

Colors: green and white

Stadium: Martinez Valero (36,000)

Coach: Fran Escriba (second season)

Honors: none

Last season: promoted

Key acquisitions: Antonio ''Tono'' Rodriguez (Granada), Manuel del Moral (Sevilla), Miroslav Stevanovic (Sevilla), Alberto Botia (Sevilla), Domingo Cisma (Atletico Madrid), Cristian Sapunaru (Real Zaragoza), Ruben Perez (Atletico Madrid), Carlos Sanchez (Valenciennes)

Significant departures: Xabier Etxeita (Athletic Bilbao)

Prospects: Elche cruised through the second division last season but will likely have to fight to hold onto its place in the topflight despite bringing in a number of experienced players, mainly castoffs from Sevilla.

Espanyol

Founded: 1900

Colors: blue and white

Stadium: Cornella-El Prat (capacity 40,500)

Coach: Javier Aguirre (Mexico, second season)

Honors: 4 cups

Last season: 13th

Key acquisitions: Luis ''Pizzi'' Afonso (Deportivo La Coruna), Sidnei (Benfica)

Significant departures: Joan Verdu (Real Betis), Raul Baena (Rayo Vallecano), Juan Forlin (Al Rayyan)

Prospects: Former Mexico coach Javier Aguirre turned the tanking Espanyol around last season and the Barcelona-based club should expect another mid-table finish despite losing playmaker Joan Verdu but retaining forward Sergio Garcia and bringing in Luis ''Pizzi'' Afonso.

Getafe

Founded: 1946

Color: blue

Stadium: Alfonso Perez Coliseum (capacity 17,000)

Coach: Luis Garcia (third season)

Honors: none

Last season: 10th

Key acquisitions: Roberto Lago (Celta Vigo), Nicolas ''Miku'' Ladislao (Celtic), Sergio Escudero (Schalke 04), Alexis Ruano (Sevilla)

Significant departures: Abdel Barrada (Al-Jazira)

Prospects: Under the steady hand of coach Luis Garcia and with the same core of his creative, attacking squad returning, it is Getafe's moment to shoot for a Europa League spot.

Granada

Founded: 1931

Colors: red and white

Stadium: Los Carmenes (capacity 16,200)

Coach: Lucas Alcaraz (second season)

Honors: none

Last season: 15th

Key acquisitions: Manuel Iturra (Malaga), Francisco ''Piti'' Medina (Rayo Vallecano), Ivan ''Riki'' Sanchez-Rico (Deportivo La Coruna),

Significant departures: Inigo Lopez (PAOK), Manuel ''Nolito'' Agudo (Celta Vigo), Iriney (Watford)

Prospects: Granada should finally move beyond a never-ending relegation battle that it has waged for the past two seasons after making a number of ambitious signings in the offseason, above all forming an interesting strike pair of Francisco ''Piti'' Medina and Ivan ''Riki'' Sanchez-Rico.

Levante

Founded: 1909

Color: blue and red

Stadium: Ciutat de Valencia (capacity 25,354)

Coach: Joaquin Caparros (first season)

Honors: none

Last season: 11th

Key acquisitions: Andreas Ivanschitz (Mainz 05), David Barral (Orduspor), Sergio Pinto (Hannover 96), Jordi Xumetra (Elche)

Significant departures: Gustavo Munua (Fiorentina), Jose Barkero (Real Zaragoza), Miguel ''Michel'' Alfonso (Valencia), Sergio Ballesteros

Prospects: Investigated for an alleged match fix in a loss last season to Deportivo La Coruna, Levante overhauled its squad and brought in journeyman defensive expert Joaquin Caparros to start anew. Even so, the minnow will likely fall into the lower part of the table and have to be careful not to get entangled in a relegation battle.

Malaga

Founded: 1994

Colors: blue and white

Stadium: La Rosaleda (28,963)

Coach: Bernd Schuster (Germany, first season)

Honors: none

Last season: sixth

Key acquisitions: Flavio Ferreira (Academica Coimbra), Bobley Anderson (Wydad Casablanca), Bartlomiej Pawlowski (Widzew Lodz), Marcos Angeleri (Estudiantes), Fernando Tissone (Sampdoria)

Significant departures: Francisco ''Isco'' Alarcon (Real Madrid), Martin Demichelis (Atletico Madrid), Javier Saviola (Olympiakos), Jeremy Toulalan (Monaco), Joaquin Sanchez (Fiorentina), Manuel Iturra (Granada), Baptista (Cruzeiro)

Prospects: After reaching the quarterfinals of the Champions League last season under coach Manuel Pellegrini, Malaga's Qatari owners have continued to shed its more valuable players. This leaves new coach Bernd Schuster with a squad with a much lower ceiling of finishing in the middle of the table.

Osasuna

Founded: 1920

Colors: red and black

Stadium: Reyno de Navarra (capacity 19,800)

Coach: Jose Luis Mendilibar (fourth season)

Honors: none

Last season: 16th

Key acquisitions: Joan Oriol (Villarreal), Oriol Riera (Alcorcon), Jordan Loties (Nancy), Jose Ariel Nunez (Libertad)

Significant departures: Kike Sola (Athletic Bilbao)

Prospects: Historically tough in Pamplona, Osasuna will need ever single bit of its home fans' support to avoid the drop after failing to strengthen a squad already thin on talent that also lost its only pure striker in Kike Sola.

Rayo Vallecano

Founded: 1924

Colors: red and white

Stadium: Teresa Rivero

Coach: Paco Jemez (second season)

Honors: none

Last season: eighth

Key acquisitions: Raul Baena (Espanyol), Nery Castillo (Pachuca), Joaquin Larrivey (Atlante), Ruben Martinez (Malaga), Leonel Galeano (Independiente de Avellaneda), Alberto Bueno (Valladolid)

Significant departures: Francisco ''Piti'' Medina (Granada), Baptistao (Atletico Madrid), Jordi Amat (Swansea), Chori Dominguez (Olympiacos), Javi Fuego (Valencia)

Prospects: The tiny Madrid-based team was the darling of Spain last campaign, but it will be hard presser to keep up its winning ways and attacking style with the exit of several of best players. The loss of its legal battle to make good on its eighth-place finish and play in the Europa League, however, could be an unexpected benefit for a side not built to play in three competitions.

Real Betis

Founded: 1907

Colors: green and white

Stadium: Manuel Ruiz de Lopera (capacity 55,500)

Coach: Pepe Mel (fourth season)

Honors: 1 league, 2 cups

Last season: seventh

Key acquisitions: Joan Verdu (Espanyol), Didac Vila (AC Milan), Stephan Andersen (Evian), Jordi Figueras (Bruges), Markus Steinhoefer (Basel), Xavi Torres (Getafe), Cedrick Mabwati (Numancia), Juan Francisco ''Juanfran'' Moreno (Castilla)

Significant departures: Benat Etxebarria (Athletic Bilbao), Alejandro Pozuelo (Swansea), Jose Canas (Swansea), Adrian San Miguel (West Ham), Dorlan Pabon (Monterey), Joel Campbell (Arsenal)

Prospects: Pepe Mel will have his work cut out for him repeating last season's seventh-place finish with a squad that has lost several players to the Premier League and midfield standout Benat Etxebarria. Even with excellent passer Joan Verdu in charge, Betis should slide down to a mid-table finish at best.

Real Madrid

Founded: 1902

Color: white

Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu (capacity 80,000)

Coach: Carlo Ancelotti (Italy, first season)

Honors: 9 European Cups, 2 UEFA Cups, 3 World Club Championships, 32 leagues, 18 cups, 1 European Supercup

Last season: runner-up

Key acquisitions: Francisco ''Isco'' Alarcon (Malaga), Asier Illarramendi (Real Sociedad), Daniel Carvajal (Bayer Leverkusen)

Significant departures: Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Jose Callejon (Napoli), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Michael Essien (Chelsea), Ricardo Carvalho (Monaco)

Prospects: Even with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema leading the way, Madrid is a slight underdog to Barcelona as it begins a new post-Mourinho era under coach Carlo Ancelotti.

Real Sociedad

Founded: 1909

Colors: blue and white

Stadium: Anoeta (capacity 32,000)

Coach: Jagoba Arrasate (first season)

Honors: 2 leagues, 2 cups

Last season: fourth

Key acquisitions: Haris Seferovic (Fiorentina), Jose Angel (Roma)

Significant departures: Asier Illarramendi (Real Madrid)

Prospects: Only losing midfielder Asier Illarramendi in the offseason means that the San Sebastian club should be well set to continue playing its excellent attacking football from last season led by Carlos Vela, Antoine Griezmann, and Xavi Prieto. The only thing that will hurt its chances of another top-four finish will be its return to the Champions League.

Sevilla

Founded: 1905

Color: white

Stadium: Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan (capacity 45,500)

Coach: Unai Emery (second season)

Honors: 2 UEFA Cups, 1 league, 5 cups, 1 European Supercup

Last season: ninth

Key acquisitions: Marko Marin (Chelsea), Nico Pareja (Spartak Moscow), Jairo Samperio (Racing Santander), Carlos Bacca (Bruges), Kevin Gameiro (Paris Saint-Germain)

Significant departures: Alvaro Negredo (Manchester City), Jesus Navas (Manchester City), Luis Alberto (Liverpool), Manuel del Moral (Elche), Miroslav Stevanovic (Elche), Alberto Botia (Elche)

Prospects: No club has been heavier hit by its need to balance the books by selling off its most talented players this offseason. With Spanish internationals Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas gone, Sevilla has definitely put an end to its winning era of a few seasons ago.

Valencia

Founded: 1919

Colors: white and black

Stadium: Mestalla (capacity 55,000)

Coach: Miroslav Djukic (Serbia, first season)

Honors: 6 leagues, 7 cups, 1 UEFA Cup, 1 European Cup Winners' Cup, 2 Inter City Fairs Cups

Last season: fifth

Key acquisitions: Javi Fuego (Rayo Vallecano), Oriol Romeu (Chelsea), Miguel ''Michel'' Alfonso (Levante), Yeray Gomez (Mallorca), Helder Postiga (Zaragoza)

Significant departures: Roberto Soldado (Tottenham), Tino Costa (Spartak Moscow)

Prospects: Along with Sevilla, Valencia is the other major team in Spain that is having to face the new reality that its days of competing year after year in the Champions League are over. Its financial woes have forced it to add Spain striker Roberto Soldado to its long list of players auctioned off to keep its creditors at bay, and the club will now have a tough time replacing his goals.

Valladolid

Founded: 1928

Colors: purple and white

Stadium: Jose Zorrilla stadium (capacity 26,512)

Coach: Juan Ignacio Martinez (first season)

Honors: 1 cup

Last season: 14th

Key acquisitions: Zakarya Bergdich (Lens), Diego Marino (Villarreal)

Significant departures: Mikel Balenziaga (Athletic Bilbao)

Prospects: Although it has changed coaches, Valladolid could be one of the pleasant surprises this season and be in the hunt for a Europa League spot if everything falls into place.

Villarreal

Founded: 1923

Colors: yellow

Stadium: El Madrigal

Coach: Marcelino Garcia (second season)

Honors: none

Last season: promoted

Key acquisitions: Giovani Dos Santos (Mallorca), Tomas Pina (Mallorca), Sergio Asenjo (Atletico Madrid), Aleksandar Pantic (Red Star Belgrade)

Significant departures: Marcos Senna (Cosmos), Joan Oriol (Osasuna)

Prospects: Of the three promoted teams, Villarreal has the best outlook to have a strong return after one season in the second division and make fans remember the not-so-distant time when the ''Yellow Submarine'' reached the Champions League semifinals.

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

SOCCER Headlines

More than Sports on MSN