1. La Liga club-by-club guide

La Liga club-by-club guide

Club-by-club guide ahead of the start of the La Liga season on Friday:

By: | Published: August 20, 2015 11:25 AM

Club-by-club guide ahead of the start of the La Liga season on Friday:

ATHLETIC BILBAO: Having improved as they went along last season, the Basques finished beaten finalists in the King’s Cup and went on to exact revenge over their conquerors Barcelona in this month’s Spanish Super Cup. They remain dependant on Aritz Aduriz in attack but youngster Inaki Williams is set to make more of impact on the wing.

ATLETICO MADRID: A lot will depend on how Colombia striker Jackson Martinez lives up to his 35 million euros ($38.7 million) transfer fee as Diego Simeone’s men seek to continue the progress that has made them one of Europe’s top clubs. Arda Turan and Joao Miranda are important losses though.

BARCELONA: The key for the treble winners is the devastating attacking trident of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez and they are poised to continue terrorising opposition defences. The Catalan side are the team to beat in Spain and Europe but will not be able to field new signings Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal until January due to a FIFA sanction.

REAL BETIS: Having stormed back up to the top flight as second-division champions following the return of coach Pepe Mel, the Seville-based club’s aim is consolidation. They have not had much investment and so are again set to be reliant on goals from Ruben Castro. Experienced midfielder Rafael Van der Vaart has arrived to give extra creativity.

CELTA VIGO: Fan favourite Iago Aspas has returned to bolster the attack and Danish international Daniel Wass is an exciting prospect on the wing. Celta have made a name for themselves with their fast-flowing football but they have lost key midfielder Michael Krohn-Dehli as well as the promising Santi Mina.

DEPORTIVO LA CORUNA: After narrowly avoiding relegation, Deportivo have a more solid defence with the arrivals of Alejandro Arribas and Fernando Navarro. They have made some other useful signings, including Fede Cartabia on loan from Valencia, and Faycal Fajr, while the veteran Cani will offer plenty of ability on the ball.

EIBAR: They will look to make the most of their second chance having only stayed up due to Elche’s enforced relegation for unpaid tax debts. The tiny Basque club collapsed in the second half of last season after a bright start and they are set to rely again on a strong team ethic and hard work without high-profile names.

ESPANYOL: It will be difficult for Espanyol having lost captain Sergio Garcia, their talisman in attack over recent seasons, as well as highly-rated keeper Kiko Casilla who was picked up by Real Madrid. Talented winger Lucas Vazquez has also rejoined Real and Espanyol have been unable to bring in the same quality to replace them.

GETAFE: After a turbulent campaign with three coaches and a battle against relegation, the Madrid-based club’s aim now is stability under Fran Escriba, who did an excellent job at crisis-ridden Elche last season. Escriba will look to play attacking football but they do have limited quality in the middle of the pitch.

GRANADA: A draw in their final game of last season against Atletico Madrid saw Granada stay up but they have since lost key players including Jeison Murillo and Allan Nyom from the defence. They are likely to be reliant again on Youssef El Arabi in attack while midfielder Rene Krhin is a useful reinforcement in midfield.

LAS PALMAS: Having reached the top division through the playoffs, it is now likely to be a battle for Las Palmas to stay up. They will have plenty of experience from 40-year-old Juan Carlos Valeron, one of most talented midfielders that Spain has produced in the last 25 years. Sergio Araujo is a player to look out for in attack.

LEVANTE: Deyverson is the main signing to add greater attacking threat to a team which is based around being solid and defensively strong. The forward line is also boosted by the physical Nabil Ghilas and promising youngster Roger Marti who spent last season out on loan.

MALAGA: After finishing in a comfortable mid-table position last season, Qatar-owned Malaga have sold promising youngsters Juanmi, Samuel Castillejo and Samuel Garcia. That has angered fans along with the lack of reinforcements of the same level and it remains to be seen whether they can stay competitive.

RAYO VALLECANO: Madrid-based Rayo will look to build on last season’s 11th-placed finish and push for a place in Europe. Rayo have impressed in the way they always keep faith with their ball-playing philosophy even against stronger teams on paper. They have brought in Patrick Ebert and Bebe to cover for the loss of last season’s top scorer Alberto Bueno.

REAL MADRID: The world’s richest club by income are aiming to bounce back under new coach Rafa Benitez after failing to win a major trophy last season under Carlo Ancelotti. Benitez has worked a lot with Gareth Bale and has tried him out in a more central position which the Welshman says he prefers. It is still unclear whether goalkeeper David De Gea will arrive to replace departed captain Iker Casillas.

REAL SOCIEDAD: Having set his target of qualifying for a place in Europe there will be pressure on coach David Moyes to achieve it this season. He was keen to sign a forward and Jonathas appears to be a strong reinforcement from Elche as he offers pace, strength and clinical finishing.

SEVILLA: The Europa League winners may have lost Carlos Bacca and Aleix Vidal but the way they pushed Barcelona all the way in the European Super Cup final suggests a promising season ahead. They still have plenty of attacking threat while Steven N’Zonzi and Michael Krohn-Dehli are among the new faces.

SPORTING GIJON: They return to the top flight after a promotion campaign based around a solid defence. Sporting’s hopes now though have been hit by sanctions on signing players as a result of their debts. It is set to be a tough season but winger Jony Rodriguez, forward Carlos Castro and playmaker Pablo Perez can cause problems for defences.

VALENCIA: They will seek to build on their top-four finish last season with Singapore billionaire owner Peter Lim aiming to make them one of the top teams in Spain and Europe. Loan deals for Rodrigo Moreno and Andre Gomes were made permanent while forward Santi Mina has arrived along with keeper Mathew Ryan.

VILLARREAL: Having lost Luciano Vietto and Denis Cheryshev, who played a key role in qualifying for the Europa League, it will be difficult for them to again reach the same level. Giovani Dos Santos has also gone but he played a minor role last season mainly due to injury. Castillejo and Garcia have both arrived from Malaga, while they can still rely on inspirational midfielder and captain Bruno Soriano. ($1 = 0.9041 euros)

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