Osasuna had a strange rhythm in last couple of years; two seasons in the second division and then one in La Liga. They had spent two previous in the Segunda Division and after the first one they ended up at the ninth place, while last season they won the first place and earn promotion to La Liga in a grand style. We should add that they lost the last time to Teneriffe near the end of March and they finished the season with nine-game unbeaten streak. Osasuna hasn’t been defeated at its Pamplona stadium even once last year, where they drew only two times and won 19 matches. It is interesting that they occupied the 20th place at the very beginning of season and have finished at the first. Still, it was the second division while La Liga is something totally different and Osasuna will have to show how much it really worth. It was logical that manager Jagobo Arrasatea keeps his job, but the team has been strengthened.
Just like most of teams that were promoted to higher ranking leagues Osasuna had to bring reinforcements and they indeed brought several players that should have increase internal competition. They have bought contract for Ruben Garcia from Levante, but we need to add that this midfielder has played for Osasuna last year. Avila came to the midfield, while three new forwards are Cardona, A. Lopez and Brandon. It is worth mentioning that they brought defensive midfielder Brasanc, and stopper Estupinan from Watford. They will most probably bring more new players before the end of the transfer window, while out of those who have left we would single out left back Clerc. They have kept most of key players, although U. Garcia and Barje are going to be absent for a while because of serious injuries.
Probable lineups Osasuna: Herrera – Vidal, D. Garcia, A. Hernandez, Estupinan – Oier, Brasanac – Ruben Garcia, R. Torres, Avila – A. Lopez
Forecast: Osasuna has returned to La Liga after two years of absence and the only objective is to try to stay in it. Despite several new players they don’t have team for which we could say it is ready to stay in the Spanish first league. We forecast a bitter survival struggle and realistically Osasuna is a serious candidate for relegation.
Mallorca is also a returnee to La Liga but this team had a different path than Osasuna. They were relegated from La Liga 2013 and then struggled in next three seasons to survive in the Segunda Division. In the fourth season in the second division they were relegated to the third league but they had expressly returned. Mallorca ended up at the fifth place in the Segunda last season, meaning they had to go through the promotion play-off. The first obstacle was Albacete and after home victory of 2-0 and away defeat of 1-0 they reached the final. They lost to Deportivo 2-0 away but they won in front of their fans after a great match by 3-0 and earned promotion to La Liga after six years of absence. Mallorca played far better at home than away, just like it performed in the play-off, and they will continue to relay on the home-field advantage in this season too.
Manager Vicente Moreno took the helm when they were third-division team and in two years he led them to the elite football league in Spain so it was logical to not replace him. On the other hand they did make number of changes in the team, or more precisely they strengthened it simply because they had to. Contract for forward Budimir was bought from Crotoine, Alegria came from Betis and will play in the top of attack, Chavarria came from Reims, and there is young Zlatanovic as well. They bought stopper Valjente from Chievo and stopper Sedlar from Piasta. Midfielder Febas from Real Madrid is supposed to be the strongest reinforcement, while Lumor is borrowed. Departures are not so important and they shouldn’t felt them, but they definitely want to bring more new players and they target goalkeeper Lunin, and Trauco from Flamengo.
Probable lineups Mallorca: Reina – Sastre, Valjent, Raillo, Lumor – Febas, D. Rodriguez – Chavarria, S. Sevilla, Junior – Budimir
Forecast: Mallorca wasn’t a favourite to earn promotion to the higher league in the Segunda Division last year but they succeed after going through the play-off and now will compete in the Spanish elite football league with team that is not up to such strong competition. They have brought several reinforcements and will perhaps bring some more, however, the survival struggle with an uncertain outcome is almost guaranteed to them.
Granada is another returnee to La Liga, and they spent two previous seasons in the Segunda Division. They did modestly in the first year following relegation and had ended up at the 10th place, but they played much better in the previous one when they finished as runners-up, meaning they were directly promoted to La Liga. They experienced several crises last year when they went down in the table but near the end of season they consolidated their form and stayed unbeaten in last eight rounds. That was quite sufficient to end up at the second place without any drama, which took them to the elite football league in Spain. Diego Martinez took over the team at the beginning of previous season and he led them to La Liga, meaning he stays the manager and of course he has a different objective now, which is survival. To do so he needs reinforcements which they brought although it is to be seen will it be enough.
The most interesting reinforcements are meant for attack and there is now experienced Robedo Soldado, while Farwin Machis from Udinese could also be a solid newcomer. They bought midfielder Vico from Leganes, while defensive midfielder Herrera was borrowed from Manchester City. Two new stoppers are D. Duarte from Sporting and Lozano from Elche. It can be problematic that loans for several players have expired who returned to their clubs. Pozo, Ojedo, San Emeterio and Martinez have left in that way. They are aware in Granada that they need more new players and perhaps Pozo and Martinez come again, alongside with a couple of new names that could help them in the survival struggle.
Probable lineups Granada: Rui Silva – Quini, D. Duarte, B. Cruz, A. Martinez – Herrera, Montero – Vadillo, F. Vico, Machis – R. Soldado
Forecast: Just like it is the case with two other newcomers to La Liga, Granada will also struggle to survive. They did bring reinforcements and hope that will be enough, however, their survival is quite questionable even if they bring more players. Competition is very strong and it would be a great success if they survive.
This will the sixth consecutive season in La Liga for Eibar and roughly each of them looked alike. Eibar won the best place two seasons ago when it ended up at the 9th place and the worst one was the 16th that they won in the first season after return from the Segunda Division. The previous season was good for Eibear which ended up at the 12th place, although the team’s first objective each year is to stay in the first division. They had the most problems at the beginning, while later on they stabilised in the middle of table and didn’t fear of relegation any more. What worries are weak results outside their stadium where they won just two matches. On the other hand Eibar did very good at home and they will again rely on that in the new season. The manager is tried and tested Jose Luis Mendilibar.
He won’t have an easy job as Eibar lost several important players. Midfielder Jordan was sold to Sevilla, Ruben Pena moved to Villarreal, Cururella has returned to Barcelona, and Milla and Hervias are not any more with the team. They earned enough money to buy new players and out of them we should mention experienced Japanese Inui, who should definitely strengthen their ranks. They brought two new players from Deportivo; midfielder Exposito and forward Quique, who played excellently last season although in the second divison. They bought contract for stopper Bigas who will play alongside Burgos, while new right back is Tejero who is borrowed from Real Madrid. Eibar managed to keep number of good players and buy several new ones, so they are perhaps a bit weaker than the last season or even of the same strength.
Probable lineups Eibar: Dmitrovic – Tejero, P. Oliveira, Bigas, J. Angel – Diop, Escalante – Orellana, Esposito, Inui – S. Enrich
Forecast: Eibar become standard La Liga team despite being listed every year among candidates for relegation. It could be said that are not too far from the survival struggle in the new season although it is not actually realistic to be relegated. They will most probably struggle and have crisis periods but there are weaker teams than they and Eibar should survive for one more season.
After four seasons in the Segunda Division Valladolid was finally promoted to La Liga last year but it needed just a bit to expressly return to the Segunda. They started the previous season very weakly and then got a new owner, Brazilian Ronaldo, after which they started to play better. At one point they even occupied the sixth place in the table, however, all this happened early in the season. As the season progressed Valladolid played weaker and weaker, and after several longer series of negative results they even reached the drop zone but then they escaped it after winning Athletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano. Valladolid ended up at the 16th place, having just four points more than teams in the drop zone. Manager Sergio had lead them in the previous season and the club management decided to trust him in the new one despite above mentioned crises, which turned to be a good move. Sergio will lead them in the new season, which will probably be very challenging.
Those who departed are mostly borrowed players like Copa or Keka. Goalkeeper Y. Rodriguez left, Verde’s loan from Roma has expired and that would be it what was worth mentioning. Newcomers are again borrowed players but some of them could be really valuable reinforcements. The first one is forward S. Ramirez, who is young player borrowed from Real Madrid. Forward Unal is still with them despite fact that his loan from Villarreal has expired, however, Valladolid extended it and he continues to be one of pillars of this team. Altogether, Valladolid didn’t lose too much while trading but newcomers must find their place.
Probable lineups Valladolid: Masip – Antonito, Calero, J. Fernandez, N. Martinez – Alcaraz, Michel – Unal, San Emeterio, S. Guardiola – S. Ramirez
Forecast: They should prevent oscillations that almost cost them relegation last season. Valladolid has several good players and its attack seems quite strong which is encouraging sign after quite inefficient previous season. Altogether, they are not a team that can reach the upper half of table and clearly they will be positioned closer to the drop zone, perhaps even forced to take part in the survival struggle.
This is the fourth season in La Liga for Leganes and they made the best result in the previous one. They ended up at the 13th place after finished at the 17th in two previous seasons. Leganes didn’t worry about survival, at least in the finish of season, while at the beginning of it they had a fair deal of troubles. Leganes spent three rounds in the last place after which they gradually raise but they never managed to reach the upper half of table and the 11th place was their best result. The most important is that they avoided relegation. We should add that not too many goals on average were scored at Leganes matches. It can be said they played quite decent defence given their final position, and that forwards need to do better. Mauricio Pellegrino led the team in the previous season and it can be said that he justified expectations, so he will lead the team in this season too.
The biggest lost for Leganes are departures of players whose loans have expired and they had to return to their clubs. They had many such players and out of them we should mention stoppers Omeru and D. Reyes, midfielders Merina and Vesga, and forwards Carrillo and Santos. They bought J. Silva from Sporting Lisbon and brought experienced Rosales at the right flank. There is Navarro who is borrowed from Watford. Leganes kept Oscar and he is very important player in the midfield, just as the team’s best scorer En-Nesyri who also stays in Leganes. They bought Braithwait so they have two forwards for the coming season, while serious injury of midfielder Szymanavski is a handicap as he will be absent for considerable period of time.
Probable lineups Leganes: Cuellar – Bustinza, Tarin, Siovas – Navarro, R. Perez, Recio, J. Silva – Oscar – Braithwaite, En-Nesyri
Forecast: Leganes ended up in the bottom half of table in previous three seasons and that will most probably stay the same. The only question is how close will be the drop zone and given the roster they are not among the most serious candidates for relegation unless they totally underperform, but the bottom part of the table is definitely reserved for Leganes.
Alaves had a good season, although in the recent past they played better and were for example the Cup’s finalists. Regarding their final position in La Liga they did better only in the first out of three consecutive seasons spent in the Spanish first division when they won the 9th place. One season later they ended up at the 14th place, while last season they finished at the 11th position. It is important to add that they did much better for the larger part of season and they had spent even two rounds at the second position, and stayed much longer at positions that lead to the Europa League. Near the end of season Alaves had nine-game winless streak which was reason for their downfall but altogether they did quite a good job. Despite that manager Abelardo didn’t keep his and Asier Garitano will lead Alaves in the new season, who has decent experience in managing Spanish teams as two last teams that he coached were Leganes and Real Sociedad.
Alaves had many borrowed players and many have returned to their clubs. The biggest changes took place in attack as practically all forwards left; Calleri, Rolan, Borja Baston, Inui and Jony. Brasanas left as well, just like right back Vigaray but they have brought several new names. Two new forwards are Joselu and L. Perez from English Newcastle and West Ham, respectively. Pons from Girona should be a good choice for defensive midfielder and they extended contract for A. Vidal who is borrowed from Sevilla. Rioja from Almeria is also reinforcement but it is very important that they kept most of defenders where practically nothing has changed and that is a great advantage for Alaves. When new forwards find a place for themselves Alaves shouldn’t have any troubles in the future.
Probable lineups Alaves: Pacheco – Aguirregabiria, Maripan, Laguardia, R. Duarte – Pons, Pina, A. Vidal – Rioja, Joselu, L. Perez
Forecast: We put Alaves in the group of teams who should fight to survive but realistically they are the best team in this group and by that their survival shouldn’t ever come into question. They will probably not be able to surprise like they did last year when they were positioned quite high, but with this team they should reach the mid-table without any problems.