Predicting the Final Table for the 2015-16 La Liga Season – RantSports

Predicting the Final Table for the 2015-16 La Liga Season – RantSports.

My piece for RantSports.

 

Predicting the Final Table for the 2015-16 La Liga Season

Barcelona
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La Liga kicks off its 2015-16 season on August 22 as Barcelona looks to defend their title. The top five teams remained virtually the same from start to finish, with Barcelona being followed by Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Sevilla in that order. Those teams will be expected to fight for the top spots again this season. The three promoted teams looking to keep afloat are Las Palmas, Sporting Gijon and Real Betis.

20. Las Palmas

Las Palmas
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Las Palmas has a team made of mostly homegrown talent and will struggle against their more illustrious opponents. A surprise or two may not be unthinkable, as the likes of Juan Carlos Valeron and Sergio Araujo give the side some spark in attack.

19. Eibar

Eibar
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Eibar escaped relegation to the Segunda Division thanks to Elche’s administrative relegation. Lightning won’t strike twice for this side, though, and things will remain as tough this season as they were last season.

18. Sporting Gijon

Sporting Gijon
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Sporting Gijon are back in La Liga after a three-year run in the Segunda Division. This side is a little different from the one that enjoyed four years in La Liga before relegation. They will be resilient to start but eventually they’ll struggle to keep up.

17. Levante

Levante
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Levante were two points away from relegation last season and things will be tight again this season. They had the league’s second worst defense in goals conceded last season and there’s little sign that will change heading into the new season. Their experience will keep them afloat.

16. Granada

Granada
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Granada will look to benefit from their number of players they have on loan from teams like Udinese. That was the plan last season as well but relegation was just a few points away. New coach, Jose Ramon Sandoval, was in charge of Sporting Gijon during their stint in the Segunda Division.

15. Getafe

Getafe
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Getafe has struggled since talented player like Dani Guiza and Pedro Leon left the side in previous seasons. Fran Escriba led Elche to a very respectable 13th place last season and was always going to stay in La Liga. He will look to give his new side the same organization that Elche had last season and make them a tough outfit to beat.

14. Deportivo La Coruna

Deportivo La Coruna
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Long gone are the days that Deportivo La Coruna troubled the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona. Still, last season the club stayed afloat thanks to a mixture of experience and under-the-radar talent. They will hope that mixture works again this season.

13. Real Betis

Real Betis
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Real Betis are right back in La Liga and look set for a very solid season. The additions of Rafael van der Vaart and Heiko Westermann provide vital experience and quality to a side that won the Segunda Division.

12. Malaga

Malaga
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Malaga is a side that can beat Barcelona, as they did last season, and lose to Las Palmas. A record of fourteen wins, eight draws and 16 losses is testament to that inconsistency. There is talent there but a question mark remains about coach Javier Gracia.

11. Rayo Vallecano

Rayo Vallecano
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Rayo Vallecano have one of the league’s best coaches in Paco Jemez and will want to continue their ascent up the league. A repeat of last seasons eleventh placed finish won’t represent the progress the club wants, but it will still be a respectable finish.

10. Espanyol

Espanyol
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Espanyol will be another side that replicates its 2014-15 position. The loss of Kiko Casilla will hurt the squad but a lack of other changes means there will be more of the same from this side. Espanyol is a consistent mid-table but it will be tough to break into the top nine.

9. Villarreal

Villarreal
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Villarreal impressed last season but have lost some big players in the form of Luciano Vietto and Giovani dos Santos as well as Denis Cheryshev. The goals will be a little harder to come by and that will lead to a drop this season. Ninth place is far from a poor showing though.

8. Celta Vigo

Celta Vigo
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Celta Vigo is another side that impressed last season but will have a tough time replicating that. The addition of John Guidetti should keep them in the top half of the table but they will find it tougher to keep up with the more talented sides.

7. Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad
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Real Sociedad will have a full preseason under David Moyes and that will make the difference between last season and this season’s finish. They will still miss out on Europe though, with Athletic Bilbao likely to improve on their performance and the top five staying the same.

6. Athletic Bilbao

Athletic Bilbao
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Athletic Bilbao are always a tough team to play against. Bilbao weren’t at their best last season, with a few poor runs of form, but still got into Europe. A trip to the Copa del Rey final showed the talent within this squad and a consistent season will see them better last season’s seventh place finish.

5. Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid
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Atletico Madrid will find replacing Arda Turan and Miranda extremely difficult next season. The arrivals of Luciano Vietto, Jackson Martinez and Stefan Savic do help in attack and defense but those players will require an adjustment to Diego Simeone’s system. Only two points separated Atletico from fifth place Sevilla last season. That could switch this season.

4. Sevilla

Sevilla
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Sevilla will benefit from a less grueling European campaign and additions such as Steven N’Zonzi and Yevhen Konoplyanka. Sevilla marched all the way to a second straight Europa League title and still ended up fifth but the more forgiving schedule in the Champions League will benefit them.

3. Valencia

Valencia
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Valencia are a resurgent side and look set for third place next season after holding on to their key players. A better season from Alvaro Negredo, and a full season for Enzo Perez will help in that respect. It will be tight but Valencia will continue to trouble the top two.

2. Real Madrid

Real Madrid
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Real Madrid haven’t made any major changes and the onus will be on manager, Rafa Benitez, to get the best from this squad. Madrid has looked well-organized in preseason but whether they will have enough to get past Barcelona is another matter.

1. Barcelona

Barcelona
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While new signings, Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal, can’t play until January Barcelona have a similar side to last season. Luis Suarez has a full season, and Neymar got a bit of rest during the summer with Brazil’s early exit from Copa America. Keeping Pedro will be key as well. Thomas Vermaelen’s recovery from injury means more depth in defense and could allow Javier Mascherano to patrol the midfield in key games. Then there’s Lionel Messi.

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