Goodbye Almería, Hércules, and Deportivo la Coruña. I’m not one to bemoan the drop, but rather to celebrate the promotions, so, welcome Real Betis, Rayo Vallecano, and whoever wins the promotion playoff.
Betis may have lost to us 5-0 in the Copa del Rey, but they also beat us 3-1 and looked pretty good doing it. Sure, the final score suggests otherwise and maybe if we’d tried harder in the second leg we would have clobbered them again, but they looked good and were certainly entertaining. If they can continue to play that way next year we’ll have a nice mid table team on our hands that is quite capable of picking off the upper echelon teams. And I’m also looking forward to the Andalucian Derby.
As for Rayo Vallecano, well, welcome back to the top flight, boys! Haven’t seen you since 2002-03 when you crashed out in 20th with 32 points and a league-worst 31 goals scored. That was the year, if you remember, that Real Sociedad nearly took the title and Barça ended up 6th. The crazy thing about Rayo is they went from the top flight to the Segunda B in just 2 years, finishing the 2003-04 Segunda season in 21st and dropping once again. It took them 4 years to crawl back to the second tier, coming in 1st in 2007-08. They went 5th in 2008-09 and then 11th last year before finishing second this year and securing promotion.
Awards and stats:
Champion: Barcelona (96 points)
Scoringest Team: Real Madrid (102)
Scoringleast Team: Deportivo la Coruña (31 goals)
Stingiest Defense: Barcelona (21 goals)
Open the Floodgates: Almería (70 goals)
Top scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid (40)
Best goalie: Víctor Valdés, Barcelona (20 goals allowed)
Manager of the year: Luis Garcia, Levante
Player of the year: Lionel Messi, Barcelona
Youngster of the year: Iker Muniain, Athletic Bilbao
Highest scoring game: Real Madrid 8 – 1 Almeria (Jornada 38)
Lowest scoring game: Anything with Depor in it.
Best game: Barça 5 – 0 Real Madrid (but maybe I’m biased)
Worst game: I think I fell asleep during something involving Zaragoza and Depor. Not sure, though.
I know I’ve crapped on Depor quite a bit in this post and on Twitter over the last couple of days and I’ve gotten a little bit of flack for it, but I’m not entirely sure why. Basically what I’ve said is that Depor deserved to go down and I won’t miss them. It’s not that I have anything against Depor in general, but this year’s version was so deadly boring and uninteresting that I feel quite a bit of antipathy towards them.
And yes, I remember SuperDepor and I remember EuroDepor and I already miss the silky brilliance of Juan Carlos Valeron, but no team deserves to be in la primera. It’s a privilege earned on a yearly basis and if Levante can do it with a budget amounting to a handful of reals and 2 pieces of Bubble Yum (watermelon!), then why can’t Depor score more goals than Lionel Messi? Sure, Caicedo is better than Riki or Xisco, but be honest, who has the better squad? The argument that Getafe should have gone down instead is fine forgets that Getafe at least scored goals and while they don’t have any fans and have just been bought by a foreign investor, there’s at least hope that next year they’ll put together a decent showing. With Depor, I wasn’t convinced there was reason for hope.
As for Hércules, I don’t know what to make of them. They made some brilliant signings, played some decent games to start the year off, including the shocker against Barça that left us all a bit overconfident about their chances of success (at least in retrospect). It’s easy enough now to see the gaping holes in the squad, but at the time, at the beginning, there was Trezeguet and Valdez, there was potential there and when the Valdez’s second settled into the Camp Nou net, what kind of a fool would have pegged them for the drop? It was all working and then it wasn’t.
Poor Almeria, maybe, but mostly poor Almeria. Can’t lament the 20th placed team too much, really, even if watching Piatti try to growl people to death is pretty awesome. Some measure of “eh, come back when you care to play better than my intramural team” is necessary for a squad that was beaten 0-8 at home and 8-1 on the road by two different squads. My intramural team was pretty badass, though. A dynasty in which we won 7 of 8 titles over 2 years (2 outdoor and 2 indoor seasons per year). So maybe Almeria is more like the hippie team that fielded stoned kids in outdoor and got trounced. I scored 7 goals against them. That’s how bad they were. Almeria is like that.
Moving way on up, it’s Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla that made the Europa league while Atletico Madrid and missed out because of head-to-head (all 3 ended with 58). Espanyol only got 1 point out of the last 12 available and ended up 9 points back of the other teams, which makes the evil, terrible parts of my heart (all of it) happy. Though I don’t particularly care about the Europa League, just like I don’t care about the NCAA NIT. But we’ve been over this.
This is the final table:
- FC Barcelona
- Real Madrid
- Athletic Bilbao
- FC Sevilla
- Atlético Madrid
- Sporting Gijon
- Racing Santander
- Real Zaragoza
- Real Sociedad
- Flame-broiled Getafe Team Dubai
What was your favorite part of the season? Mine was when Abidal came back. Least favorite? Mine was any of the Madrid games I watched in which they won.
UPDATE: Atleti is actually in the Europa League thanks to the Copa final being between two CL qualified teams. Thanks for the totally civil and helpful manner in which you pointed out this oversight, Luke.