With just 9 matches to go in the season, it’s probably time I covered what’s going on around the rest of the league. Today I’ll continue what I started with Hercules. I’m mainly interested in the relegation battle as all the other battles are somewhat boring. Or include Espanyol. So, here you have the other two relegation zone dwellers:
While Hercules dwells on their current 4-match losing streak, Almeria hasn’t fair particularly better. At least not really. Other than beating Hercules, they haven’t won since February 5 when they smacked Espanyol around to the tune of 3-2. Okay, so maybe that wasn’t smacking anyone around, but at this point, with only 4 other wins to their name, they’ll take what they can get. Given that they were smacked 0-8 by Barça at their own stadium, you’d think they’d have the worst goal difference in the league, but instead they’re only 3rd worst with -18, bested by Hercules (-22) and Malaga (-21).
Most striking about them is that they’ve won more times away (3) than they have at home (2), but they’ve drawn 9 at the Mediterráneo while just twice away from it. If you’re keeping track at home (though why would you with me here?) that’s 15 points at home and 11 away. Hardly super lopsided like Hercules, but also rather pathetic. They’ve got the fewest total wins of any team in La Liga, which is pretty damning.
Argentine striker Leonardo Ulloa is their top scorer with 7, but he’s only managed 1 away from home. As a team they’ve managed 30, 19 at home and 11 away. Interestingly enough, not a single one–not one solitary goal–has come from the spot. My favorite of their players, Kalu Uche has netted just 5 times. I blame Jabulani.
Moving on up to Manuel (Pellegrini) and his moribund Malaga, we arrive at the third to last team, who are just 1 point away from safety, but don’t really strike me as capable of that extra step…except they’ve won two in a row against Real Sociedad and Espanyol. They’ve won 8 overall and have faired decently enough on the road, where they’ve earned 1 more point than they have at home. That gives them the distinct honor of being the only team with more points away than at home. Even Barça have managed to return to normalcy in that regard, but not Malaga.
Still, they lost 7-0 at the Bernabeu and you can’t really say they didn’t deserve it or the loss to Osasuna just a few days later. You can’t do that and expect to survive long in La Liga, though other teams are certainly giving them a run for their money. Or whatever that adage would be in the negative. And yes, I’m pronouncing adage in my brain all fancy: ah-dahj. They’re royalty now, after all. Uh, as are Barça?
Newcomer Salomón Rondón has netted 12 times so far this season, which is pretty great for Malaga, except that no one else is really holding up their end of the bargain. Juanmi is second with 4. Still, they made the right moves, at least on paper, by bringing in veteran talent (Demichelis and Julio Baptista, for instance), it just hasn’t come together for them. Will it? I don’t know, but Pellegrini is actually a very good manager and if he’s actually putting together a winning streak (@Levante, Depor, Mallorca, @Racing, Hercules are their next matches), it could mean survival from relegation and for this latest Qatari project. If they do go down, however, I expect they’ll be next year’s Betis. Without the slipping below Rayo Vallecano.
Malaga, Almeria, and Alicante (home of Hercules) are all along the southern coast of Spain. Apparently southern Spaniards can’t be bothered to win matches. I wouldn’t either with those kinds of beaches. Anyway, the towns are separated by 500km of highway. But if you prefer to walk, apparently you’ll need to get your shoes wet.