La Liga preview – part four

It’s the one you’ve been waiting for… Levante, Mallorca and Osasuna! Don’t despair though, mentions abound of El comandante, Samuel Eto’o and Savo Milovesic! Striker!

Levante 

The “other” team from Valencia are a self-styled people’s club and like to refer to their fanbase as la resistencia. They haven’t got the trophies or the fame of their wealthier city rivals, but they are capable of explosive football and in el comandante, one of LaLiga’s true folk heroes. 

Levante are one of LaLiga’s more unpredictable sides, in terms of formation, personnel, and performance. They began coach Paco López’s debut season like a house on fire, before free falling after a 5 nil mauling at home to Barcelona, and only eventually avoided relegation at the expense of Girona after a strong end to the campaign. López, in his first senior managerial role, showed himself willing to switch between a 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 3-5-2 or 3-4-1-2 formation, shuffling the deck repeatedly and making full use of the playing squad available to him. He has experimented further in preseason, so predicting what to expect in his second season is a tricky task. 

Harry Redknapp’s wheeler dealers

Rubén Vezo (Valencia) and Rober Pier (Deportivo) have made their loan deals permanent, while Borja Mayoral (Real Madrid) is back for one more year on a temporary basis. Sergio León (Betis) will compete for a starting role up front, and free signings Clerc, Duarte, Miramón and Hernani were all snapped up to increase competition for places. 

Possible starting XI

Possible Levante starting lineup 19/20
Possible Levante starting lineup 19/20

David Bowie’s starman: José Luís Morales

El comandante is the classic late bloomer, street footballer type that is a surefire fan’s favourite. Like Lee Trundle but way, way better. 

Morales goes all the way against Betis

Have a look at the full squad on Transfermarkt here

(Modern) moment of glory

Yet another trophy-less entity in Spain’s top division, the 11/12 season saw Levante achieve their best ever league placing of 6th, having spent 20 weeks in the top four and daring to dream of getting spanked all over the continent in the Champions League. It was a memorable season with a victory to be savoured over Real Madrid in September. 

Levante win against Madrid in 2011

FiveThirtyEight forecast: 15th


Mallorca 

Do you remember the days when Samuel Eto’o was scoring for fun in La Palma? Fun in the sun is what Mallorca is all about, and Vicente Moreno has finally brought some back to Son Moix after six years away from the top table. His status on the Balearic island is saint-like as Mallorca have enjoyed back-to-back promotions from the third level of Spain’s football pyramid. The mallorquíns feel like they are back where they belong, but they will have to surprise a few people if they are to keep it that way. 

Harry Redknapp’s wheeler dealers 

Mallorca’s main attacking force last season was Ivorian winger Lago Júnior, with 11 goals and 7 assists. In other words, they need more goals. Budimir (Crotone) has joined on a permanent basis, with Chavarría (Reims), Alegría (Betis) and Zlatanovic (Radnik) also coming in to provide more attacking options. The fact that most of these were free transfers highlights the main problem facing Mallorca. Chavarría at least looks as if he would be right at home in an eighties Panini sticker album. 

RCD Mallorca player Pablo Chavarría
Chavarría has a retro vibe going on

Possible starting XI

Possible Mallorca starting lineup 19/20
Possible Mallorca starting lineup 19/20

David Bowie’s starman: Aleix Febas

Febas on loan at Albacete last year
Febas on loan at Albacete last year

The midfielder from the Real Madrid youth system was impressive on loan at Albacete last year and Mallorca didn’t waste any time snapping him up on a free after securing promotion. He has a chance to make his name in the top division this year. 

Have a look at the full squad on Transfermarkt here.

(Modern) moment of glory 

Mallorca have a proud history of competing at the top level and finally landed a major trophy in 2003, when a front line of Riera, Eto’o and Pandiani dismantled Recreativo in the Copa del Rey final. The highlight of the cup run was this outstanding quarter final thumping of Real Madrid

Have some of that Madrid

FiveThirtyEight forecast: 20th


Osasuna 

LaLiga’s yoyo club of recent years are back for another crack at the top level. Under Jagoba Arrasate, they made short work of the second division last time out and are probably the most likely of the promoted sides to mount a serious challenge in 19/20. LaLiga’s sole representatives of Navarre were a fixture in the top division from 2000-2014 and will be hoping to usher in a new era of success in Pamplona. 

Harry Redknapp’s wheeler dealers 

The bulk of the goals last season were scored by Roberto Torres from midfield and Juan Villar from the wing. In Marc Cardona (FC Barcelona) and Adrian López (remember him? Porto) it is unclear whether they have found a more reliable source of goals at centre forward. Winger Chimy Ávila (San Lorenzo) looks like a bargain at 2.7m euros, and Darko Brasanac (Betis) and Facundo Roncaglia (Celta Vigo) could also prove to be good value for money.

Possible starting XI 

Possible Osasuna starting lineup 19/20
Possible Osasuna starting lineup 19/20

David Bowie’s starman: Roberto Torres

Osasuna footballer Roberto Torres
Roberto Torres has been at Mallorca for over seven years

Have a look at the full squad on Transfermarkt here

(Modern) moment of glory 

The 05/06 season was the crescendo of Javier Aguirre’s four-year stint at El Sadar. He went out on a high, leading Osasuna to a 5th place finish and European football. An exciting side featuring Savo Milosevic, Pierre Webo and Raúl García won at the Riazor in week two of the 04/05 season, and this sensual stroke from Milosevic is still known to get los rojillos wet around the upper trouser area. What a player.

A “vaseline” chip from super Savo

FiveThirtyEight forecast: 17th

Made it. And I didn’t mention the bull run once. Oh.

We’ll be back tomorrow with some bigger hitters, and check the Facebook page later for pre-match updates for tonights second leg against Luzern. ¡Vamos Espanyol!

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