Spanish club football took a backseat this summer and watched with everyone else as the country’s own produced a memorable display at this year’s 2010 FIFA World Cup. After years of waiting and large-scale disappointments, the Spanish national side picked up where they left two years ago at Euro 2008, and entered the illustrious brotherhood of World Cup winners after a grueling final battle with Holland.

Contrary to last year’s madness in the European and Spanish transfer market, things have chugged along relatively smoothly, with Manchester City the only major spenders. In Spain, both Barcelona and Real Madrid have had a quiet summer by their usual standards, but all signs are yet again pointing in the direction of another two-horse race, one that will be determined by the little details and of course, the much anticipated El Clasico clash.

As such, we preview each team’s summer activity and give our verdict on their probable finishing position next May.


Things haven’t been going great for Almeria in recent seasons. The club have not enjoyed a good run ever since gaining promotion at the end of the 2006/07 season; finishing 8th, 11th, and 13th respectively in the last three years, while having to fight off interest in star men Diego Alves and Pablo Piatti. With no players standing out in his squad, coach Hugo Sanchez’s team will have a hard time elbowing their way into La Liga’s top eight.

Key arrivals: Leonardo Ulloa (CD Castellon); Michael Jakobsen (Aalborg BK); Carlos Garcia (Real Betis – loan return); Diego Valeri (Porto – loan); Marcelo Silva (Danubio FC)
Key departures: Alex Quillo (Recreativo Huelva); Domingo Cisma (Racing Santander); Fernando Soriano (CA Osasuna); Guilherme Oliveira (Real Valladolid – loan); David Rodriguez (Celta Vigo); Chico (Genoa)
Prediction: 13th

Athletic Bilbao

For once, the Basque country does have something in common with Spain. Athletic Bilbao welcome back Javi Martinez and Fernando Llorente after a World Cup winning summer with La Roja, knowing full well that they now hold two of the team’s main pillars for many more years to come. Add to that the impressive journey of young Iker Muniain with the Under-19 squad, and Athletic Bilbao suddenly have become a tough pill to swallow for most clubs, whether the match takes place at the San Mames or not.

Key arrivals: Mikel San Jose (Liverpool); Igor Martinez (Deportivo Alaves); Ibai Gomez (Sestao River Club); Mikel Balenziaga (Numancia – loan return); Raul Fernandez (Granada FC – loan return)
Key departures: Francisco Yeste (Al Wasl); Inaki Munoz (Cartagena)
Prediction: 8th

Atletico Madrid

After years of frustration, Atletico Madrid now hold a golden chance to break the Spanish duopoly. The club fought off advances for both Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero, and have added to their ranks the likes of Filipe Luis and former Gunner Fran Merida. These names, along with last season’s surprise discovery David de Gea and the ever-present Simao, take Atletico one step forward towards returning to the glory scene they left back in 1996; they will be keen to continue tasting success after claiming the Europa League last season.

Key arrivals: Fran Merida (Arsenal); Mario Suarez (RCD Mallorca); Filipe Luis (Deportivo La Coruna); Diego Godin (Villarreal)
Key departures: Pablo Ibanez (West Bromwich Albion); Roberto Jimenez (Benfica); Tiago Mendes (Juventus); Ruben Perez (Deportivo La Coruna – loan)
Prediction: 3rd


Barcelona confronted a €250M assault last year and still were able to clinch the Primera title with a three-point cushion. Now, imagine what kind of extra dimension the addition of World Cup hero David Villa will have on the team. The €40M that the Blaugrana paid Valencia for the world’s best striker pales in comparison to what El Guaje will offer. Furthermore, the acquisition of Sevilla’s Adriano for just under €10M is a coup for a team that relies so heavily on play from the flanks. This season promises to be no different for Barca and adding another La Liga accolade is more than possible.

Key arrivals: David Villa (Valencia); Adriano (Sevilla)
Key departures: Rafael Marquez (New York Red Bulls); Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls); Dmytro Chygrynskiy (Shakhtar Donetsk); Yaya Toure (Manchester City); Keirrison (Santos – loan)
Prediction: 1st


Deportivo La Coruna

After starting the 2009/10 season with a bang, Deportivo slowly regressed towards the middle of the table, finishing the season in 10th position. The loss of key figures such as Filipe Luis have not been properly compensated for, and as such, it will be hard for the club to find their old “Super Depor” form of yesteryear, for this season at least. While the Rikis and the Adrians might be very good on their given day, it’s going to take a lot more for Deportivo La Coruna to claim a high standing this campaign.

Key arrivals: Michel (Valencia); Saul Fernandez (Elche CF); Yves Desmarets (Vitoria SC); Urreta (Benfica – loan); Aythami (Xerez – loan return)
Key departures: Mista (Toronto FC); Rodolfo Bodipo (FC Vaslui); Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid); Sergio Gonzalez (Levante)
Prediction: 10th

RCD Espanyol 

After enduring a horrible 2009/10 campaign, things do not seem to be better this time around for Barcelona’s second most popular team. The loss of key players, like Raul Tamudo, has added to doubts over Espanyol’s lack of competition for frontline positions. Having had a disastrous attack last season – a mere 29 goals – the Blanc i Blau have some tough times ahead of them. Don’t expect any miracles to occur between now and the end of the next campaign.

Key arrivals: Valdo (Malaga – loan return); Kiko Casilla (Cadiz – loan return); Jesus Datolo (Napoli – loan); Felipe Mattioni (RCD Mallorca)
Key departures: Fernando Marques (Parma); Ben Sahar (Hapoel Tel Aviv); Nicolas Pareja (Spartak Moscow); Raul Tamudo (Real Sociedad)    
Prediction: 12th


Hot on the heels of a very good Europa League qualifying season, Madrid outfit Getafe lost two of their major superstars in the form of Roberto Soldado and Pedro Leon, to Valencia and Real Madrid respectively. However, that did not stop the Azulones from shoring up their squad with suitable replacements as Javier Arizmendi and Adrian Colunga arrived. The latter, particularly, is expected to excel at El Geta, and should the little suburb team carry on their 2010 form, a place amongst the elite doesn’t seem out of this world.

Key arrivals: Borja Fernandez (Real Valladolid); Ivan Marcano (Villarreal – loan); Javier Arizmendi (Real Zaragoza); Franck Signorino (FC Cartagena – loan return); Adrian Colunga (Recreativo Huelva)
Key departures: Roberto Soldado (Valencia); Pedro Leon (Real Madrid); David Belenguer (Real Betis); David Cortes (Hercules); Kepa Blanco (Recreativo Huelva)
Prediction: 6th


It usually takes something out of this ordinary for a team to survive after promotion to La Liga. This year, Hercules do not seem able to break that trend. The last time the team earned a top ten finish in the top Spanish flight was 25 years ago, and with a serious lack of gifted players in their ranks, it shouldn’t take Hercules too much time before they settle into the drop zone; the Valencian team is likely to finish the season in last place.

Key arrivals:
Olivier Thomert (Le Mans); Mathias Fritzler (Lanus – loan); Abel Aguilar (Udinese); David Cortes (Getafe); Cristian Pulhac (Dinamo Bucharest)
Key departures: Ionel Danciulescu (Dinamo Bucharest); Gerardo (Gimnastic Tarragona)
Prediction: 20th


Returning to the Primera Division after a two-year hiatus, Levante will be hoping to write a new page in their club’s history in what will be the team’s fifth season in Spain’s top flight. The arrival of La Masia product Xavi Torres will add an extra dimension to the squad. Nonetheless, the remaining parts fail to assemble into a full-running racing car, and Levante might find themselves in the second division at the end of the campaign.

Key arrivals: Xavi Torres (Malaga – loan); Sergio Gonzalez (Deportivo La Coruna); Christian Stuani (Reggina – loan); Gustavo Munua (Malaga)
Key departures: Jorge Pina (Albacete); Manuel Herrera (Alcorcon); Angel Sanchez (Alcorcon); Daniel Carril (Las Palmas); Samuel Banos (Alcorcon)
Prediction: 19th



After only just dodging the relegation bullet by one place and one point last season, the Malaga hierarchy will be looking not to make the same mistakes again, and have been very much involved in the summer transfer market, sealing deals for the likes of Sandro Silva and Sebastian Fernandez, who is to date, the club’s most expensive signing ever. The latter was part of the Uruguay squad that surprised many during the recent World Cup, and Fernandez could prove to be one of the stars of the upcoming term. However, the rest of the squad is not up to the same standard and Malaga could very well be relegated when everything is said and done.

Key arrivals: Edinho (PAOK Salonika – loan return); Eliseu Perrera (Lazio); Javier Malagueno (Indios de Ciudad Juarez); Sandro Silva (Palmeiras); Salomon Rondon (Las Palmas); Sebastian Fernandez (Banfield); Rodrigo Galatto (Atletico Paranaense)
Key departures: Valdo (Espanyol – loan return); Felipe Caicedo (Manchester City – loan return); Victor Obinna (Internazionale – loan return); Fernando Forestieri (Genoa – loan return); Xavi Torres (Levante – loan); Javi Lopez (Ponferradina – loan); Gustavo Munua (Levante)
Prediction: 18th

RCD Mallorca

After being the surprise of last season, finishing in fifth place, the onus is on Mallorca to prove that 2009/10 was not a freak result. The Islanders have lost some key players this summer, namely one Aritz Aduriz, but have welcomed others in return, such as Eredivisie boy Jonathan de Guzman. Perhaps their exclusion from the upcoming Europa League campaign could be a blessing in disguise, as the team can now concentrate solely on a good La Liga finish, something that is likely to happen again.

Key arrivals: Emilio Nsue (Real Sociedad – loan return); Juanmi Callejon (Albacete – loan return); Oscar Trejo (Elche CF – loan return); Jonathan de Guzman (Feyenoord); Fernando Cavenaghi (Bordeaux – loan)
Key departures: Felipe Mattioni (RCD Espanyol); Mario Suarez (Atletico Madrid); Borja Valero (West Bromwich Albion – loan return); Paulo Pezzolano (Montevideo – loan return); Aritz Aduriz (Valencia); Fernando Varela (Kasimpasa SK)
Prediction: 7th

CA Osasuna

It seems as if Osasuna’s golden days of 2005/06 are but a distant memory. After finishing in fourth position that season, the club’s luck took a turn for the worse, as they dropped around ten places over the following years, going as far as flirting with relegation during the 2007/08 and 2008/09 terms. While their Reyno de Navarra stronghold has lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest arenas in Spain, Osasuna have been fairly poor away from home, and it is this factor in particular that has prevented them from occupying a loftier placing.

Key arrivals: Fernando Soriano (Almeria); Asier Riesgo (Real Sociedad); Dejan Lekic (Red Star Belgrade); Damia Abella (Real Betis)
Key departures: Cesar Azpilicueta (Marseille); Dady (Bucaspor)
Prediction: 14th

Racing Santander

Racing Santander have struggled in recent seasons compared to their 2007/08 finish of 6th. Los Verdiblancos narrowly evaded relegation laat season, and have seen their crown jewel Sergio Canales leave for Real Madrid for the relatively small fee of €4.5M. They have, however, attracted the likes of Swedish star Kennedy Bakırcıoğlu from Ajax, who alongside the usual cohort of Pedro Munitis, Mohammed Tchite and Luis Garcia, will lead the team in attack. Los Racinguistas do have the necessary ammunition to have a good season, but everything will come down to their hunger to do well.

Key arrivals: Domingo Cisma (Almeria); Kennedy Bakırcıoğlu (Ajax)
Key departures: Sergio Canales (Real Madrid); Nasief Morris (Panathinaikos – loan return)
Prediction: 11th

Real Madrid

Real failed to steal the trophy last season from Barcelona’s grasp and as such, called in Jose Mourinho to get the job done; the former Chelsea coach having just won the treble with Italian side Internazionale. Far from being last summer’s mega signings, Madrid’s new players this term were acquired on the basis of necessity, not reputation. Mourinho knows what it takes to defeat Barcelona, having knocked them out of the Champions League on his way towards the final in Madrid, and with a good squad at his disposal, he just might end the Catalans’ dominance. The Portuguese boss has always won in his debut season at his new clubs, but things could prove to be harder this time around.

Key arrivals: Sergio Canales (Racing Santander); Angel di Maria (Benfica); Pedro Leon (Getafe); Sami Khedira (Stuttgart); Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea)
Key departures: Christoph Metzelder (Schalke); Guti (Besiktas); Raul (Schalke)
Prediction: 2nd


Real Sociedad

After spending the past three seasons in the Segunda Division, Real Sociedad return to Spain’s champagne football, looking to forget the nightmare that was their last top flight campaign. For this purpose, the Basque team have acquired Villarreal’s Joseba Llorente, as well as former Espanyol captain and talisman Raul Tamudo. With both being experienced forwards, Sociedad have a decent front duo, but it is the back four area that needs to witness more modifications should the team want to extend their La Liga stay. They could plunge one more time into the summer transfer market and secure a defender or two.

Key arrivals: Joseba Llorente (Villarreal); Tono Ramirez (Tenerife – loan return); Raul Tamudo (RCD Espanyol)
Key departures: Asier Riesgo (Osasuna); Emilio Nsue (Mallorca – loan return); Franck Songo’o (Real Zaragoza – loan return)
Prediction: 16th


Sevilla’s crown as the “best of the rest” in La Liga is under serious threat this season, namely from Atletico Madrid, who have reinforced their team greatly this summer. The Andalucians have kept the same core of players over this transfer period, and will be counting on Jesus Navas to truly explode domestically following his successful World Cup ride with Spain. Luis Fabiano, courted heavily by AC Milan and Marseille, is another key point to this side, but despite all that, they may find the Atletico rebirth hard to swallow and could settle for fourth place.

Key arrivals: Mouhamadou Dabo (Saint Etienne); Tiberio Guarente (Atalanta); Arouna Kone (Hannover 96 – loan return); Luca Cigarini (Napoli)
Key departures: Marius Stankevicius (Sampdoria – loan return); Adriano (Barcelona); Tom de Mul (Standard Liege – loan)
Prediction: 4th

Sporting de Gijon

It wouldn’t have come as a great surprise had the Asturians been relegated last season. However, this wasn’t meant to be, as Gijon narrowly missed out on being towed to the Segunda. The arrivals of Rangers’ Nacho Novo, as well as Barcelona’s youth teamer Alberto Botia and Uruguayan Sebastian Eguren can only be a positive thing for the team in their quest to improve their status with every passing season. Los Rojiblancos should be safe from the drop this time, and could even manage a better finish.

Key arrivals: Gaston Sangoy (Apollon Limassol); Ayoze Garcia (Tenerife); Nacho Novo (Rangers); Alberto Botia (Barcelona); Jorge Garcia (Gimnastic de Tarragona); Sebastian Eguren (AIK)
Key departures: None
Prediction: 15th


If there’s one team that was in desperate need of reinforcements this summer, it is 2004 UEFA Cup winners Valencia. Los Che have seen David Silva, Carlos Marchena and most importantly, David Villa, all walk through the door as the club’s debt burden became too much to bear. The loss of both Villa and Silva, easily considered Valencia’s best two players, opened the door for replacements, with notable names being Roberto Soldado and Turkey’s Mehmet Topal. Whether this new duo can fill the departing players’ shoes remains very much uncertain. What is certain though is that Villa’s departure won’t be the last of Valencia’s gems.

Key arrivals: Sofiane Feghouli (Grenoble); Mehmet Topal (Galatasaray); Ricardo Costa (Lille); Roberto Soldado (Getafe); Sunny (Real Betis – loan return); Vicente Guaita (Recreativo Huelva – loan return); Hugo Viana (Braga – loan return); Angel Gonzalez (Levadiakos – loan return); Asier del Horno (Real Valladolid – loan return); Alberto Costa (Montpellier); Aritz Aduriz (Mallorca)
Key departures: David Villa (Barcelona); Michel (Deportivo La Coruna); Nikola Zigic (Birmingham City); David Silva (Manchester City); Carlos Marchena(Villarreal)
Prediction: 5th


In what could have been a disastrous 2009/10 season, Villarreal eventually overcame the shock of Manuel Pellegrini’s departure for Real Madrid, and managed to clinch a Europa League qualifying berth. For this campaign Carlos Marchena makes the journey from cross-town rivals Valencia, while Jozy Altidore returns after a somewhat disappointing spell in England with relegated side Hull City. The American has had a horrendous time in Spain so far, but should he live up to his hype, there’s a chance he will be lining up alongside Giuseppe Rossi sooner rather than later.

Key arrivals:
Jozy Altidore (Hull City – loan return); Borja Valero (West Bromwich Albion); Carlos Marchena (Valencia)
Key departures: Ivan Marcano (Getafe – loan); Joseba Llorente (Real Sociedad); Damian Escudero (Boca Juniors); Ariel Ibagaza (Olympiacos); Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid)
Prediction: 9th

Real Zaragoza

Largely expected to be relegated by the end of the past campaign, Zaragoza fought to see another day of La Liga action, despite enduring some horrific blows along the way, namely from Real Madrid and Barcelona. Los Blanquillos’ major acquisition of the summer is former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Leo Franco, who returns to Spain following one year in Turkey. Despite what seems to be a fragile squad at first glance, Zaragoza do have what it takes to survive, provided they improve their abysmal away record.

Key arrivals: Franck Songo’o (Real Sociedad – loan return); Braulio Nobrega (Recreativo Huelva – loan return); Leo Franco (Galatasaray); Toni Doblas (Huesca); Marco Perez (Gimnasia de La Plata – loan); Nicolas Bertolo (Palermo – loan)
Key departures: Roberto Jimenez (Atletico Madrid – loan return); Javier Arizmendi (Getafe); Humberto Suazo (Monterrey); Ruben Pulido (Eskisehirspor)
Prediction: 16th