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La Liga 2013-2014 Season Preview: Living in the mid-table

Every team opens the season with dreams and grandiose hopes of soaring to the heights on their domestic league. Sadly for this group of Spanish clubs, those dreams will probably not come true.

Steve Bardens

Our preview of the upcoming season in La Liga continues with a look at the teams that likely won't contend for European places, but they should be able to stay well clear of the relegation fight.


The Yellow Submarine have resurfaced after a Das Boot-like season in the Segunda Division. They'll be hoping to avoid the rather tragic ending that group suffered and there's every reason to believe that shouldn't be a problem. There's even a real chance they could interject themselves into the Europa League chase but it's always a little tough to put a newly promoted team on that list.

More from our team blogs: Villarreal blog Villarreal USA

Gone are experienced players like Olof Mellberg and Marcos Senna, but that shouldn't slow Villarreal down thanks to some astute signings from head coach Marcelino García Toral. Tomás Pina should fit nicely into the midfeld and the defense has been bolstered by the addition of Bojan Jokić and Aleksandar Pantić. Villarreal's biggest signing comes in the form of Mexican international Giovani dos Santos who was the lone bright spot for Mallorca last season. If Dos Sanotos builds on his performance last season he could be a force for the Yellow Submarine in the attack.

Young goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo joins on loan from Atletico Madrid and is expected to start.


Last season for Levante overachieved for a large part of the year before crashing back to Earth in the final months. Issue is the dressing room derailed the team and several players and the head coach were sent packing in the summer. In comes new boss Joaquín Caparrós, whose most recent claim to fame was getting Mallorca relegated.

Levante's biggest issue last season was offense and Caparrós has brought in experienced striker David Barral, along with attacking midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz, winger Sérgio Pinto and midfielder Jordi Xumetra. The defense was solid last season and should continue to be a positive for Levante. With the departure of goalkeeper Gustavo Munúa, Keylor Navas will compete with new signing Javi Jiménez for the starting spot between the post.


Getafe begins their 10th consecutive top flight campaign with a mostly unchanged squad. It's all about continuity for head coach Luis García Plaza, partially due to having known quantities in the squad and virtually no financial flexibility. Last year's 10th place finish was respectable and while Getafe likely won't improve that this season, they should stay above the relegation fray as well.

The defense has been solidified by the signing of Roberto Lago and Alexis -- both on free transfers -- to provide some depth on the back line, while left back Sergio Escudero impressed the club enough during his loan last season to become a permanent signing from Schalke. Getafe got a big boost as well as goalkeeper Miguel Ángel Moyà -- who'd been linked with a possible move to a bigger club -- decided to stick around for at least another season. Right winger Pedro León was signed from Real Madrid as well, he'd been on loan with Getafe last season.

Talented young midfielder Abdelaziz Barrada was sold to Al-Jazira, providing the club's account a financial boost.


The soaring heights reached by Malaga last season are likely to be followed by a fall back to reality as the club deals with a European ban, the loss of head coach Manuel Pellegrini along with several key players, and continued financial problems.

In comes new head coach Bernd Schuster who has plenty of experience in Spain and appears to in place for a long-term rebuilding project with the club. Isco, Jérémy Toulalan, Joaquín, Javier Saviola, Martín Demichelis, Edinho, Manuel Iturra, Júlio Baptista and Rubén have left or been sold, but the cupboard isn't bare.

Jesús Gámez and Weligton will be given a chance to step-up in the defense, while the addition of Fernando Tissone should help in the midfield. Veteran defender Marcos Angeleri will provide some depth as well. Youngsters Bobley Anderson, Bartłomiej Pawłowski and Flávio Ferreira were all signed as well, a prime example of Malaga's new approach of building with youth rather than big money signings, which they can no longer afford.

As long as things don't go horribly wrong Malaga should survive this transitional season, but they won't likely won't be in the mix for a Champions League spot any time soon.

Real Valladolid

Valladolid's first season after promotion was better than expected as the team finished 14th and stayed clear of the relegation scrap all year. It was so successful that head coach Miroslav Đukić was signed by Valencia. In his place comes Juan Ignacio Martínez who spent the last three season guiding Levante, including an improbable appearance in the Europa League Round of 16 in 2012.

JIM will be looking to build on Đukić's success and push Valladolid further up the league table. Goalkeeper Dani Hernández -- replaced by Diego Mariño -- and left back Mikel Balenziaga are gone, but the core of the Valladolid attack remains in place as Patrick Ebert, Óscar González and Javi Guerra are all back.

The signing of Humberto Osorio gives JIM some additional firepower up front, while Zakarya Bergdich and Gilberto García will bolster the defense. Garcia's nickname is "Alcatraz" which might sound odd if not for the great story behind it. Garcia's father was a footballer and as a child he often dove into the ocean near his small fishing village home, "like a prisoner trying to escape Alcatraz". The nickname was passed down to Giberto Garcia, something he's very proud of.

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