Big two in Spain still dominate at end of 2010-11 season

08:55, May 23, 2011      

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The Spanish BBVA Primera Liga season which came to a dramatic conclusion on Saturday night, showed once again the massive inequalities within the Spanish game.

Although the destination of the league title was decided three weeks ago, Champions FC Barcelona won their final game of the campaign 3-1 away to Malaga, despite coach Pep Guardiola fielded a side filled with B-team players and others recovering from injury.

Real Madrid meanwhile enjoyed a goal-filled send off with an 8-1 home win against Almeria, a side relegated to the second division and who lost 8-0 at home to Barcelona earlier in the campaign.

Barcelona ended the season with 96 points from a possible 114, dropping just 18 points, a tally Guardiola described as "barbaric", while Madrid finished just four points behind with 92 and there continues to lie the problem.

The big two contested everything, battling for the league title, playing the final of the Copa del Rey and reaching the semifinal of the Champions League, where arguably only the fact that they played each other prevented them progressing to next weekend's final.

An example of their dominance was the 40 league goals netted by Cristiano Ronaldo (although 10 of them came when the title had been lost) and 31 from Leo Messi, the two best strikers in Spain and probably the world.

Barcelona won the title scoring 95 goals and conceeding just 21, while Madrid netted a total of 102 league goals, receiving 33, impossible for anyone else to compete with.

Below the "clash of the titans" and their huge incomes from TV earnings, the mortals had to fight it out for the crumbs: Valencia finished third with 71 points - 21 behind Madrid, with Unai Emery's side beaten home and away by both the sides above them, suffering a 6-3 humiliation at home to Madrid recently.

Fourth placed Villarreal were 30 points behind Madrid and 34 behind Barcelona, while fifth placed Sevilla were 41 points off the Champions, they did at least have the satisfaction of drawing at home to Barcelona, although Madrid scored six goals past them just a fortnight ago.

Looking below the top two, Valencia can be satisfied with a campaign that saw them go directly into the Champions League thanks to an excellent campaign from strikers Roberto Soldado and Aritz Aduriz, who did a good job of replacing David Villa and David Silva. Juan Mata also showed his maturity, although he could be hard to keep next season.

Villarreal also played good football, but were hampered by a Europa League campaign that left their players tired on key dates. Giuseppe Rossi, Nilmar, Santi Cazorla and Borja Valero all performed in a creditable season in the El Madrigal.

Sevilla's season had its ups and downs, but Gregorio Manzano steadied the ship to return them to Europe, while Joaquin Caparros worked hard at sixth placed Athletic Club, whose striker Fernando Llorente scored 18 goals in the campaign.

Kun Aguero showed just how important he is to an erratic Atletico Madrid, who lacked a playmaker in central midfield and where the poor relations between coach Quique Sanchez Flores, who is leaving the club, and striker Diego Forlan captured far too many headlines.

Outside of the top seven, Espanyol began well, but ran out of steam in the second half of the season, following the sale of Victor Ruiz. Espanyol will sell players over the summer and will struggle to repeat the feats of this near next time around.

Osasuna were in danger of relegation until the end of the season, but still finished ninth. Good work from Jose Luis Mendilibar, who replaced Jose Antonio Camacho at the helm with the club in the drop zone.

Manuel Preciado appeared to be one defeat away from the sack, but his Sporting Gijon side also recovered well, while the big signings at Malaga finally paid off with a run of 15 points from 18 that saw Manuel Pellegrini's side to safety.

Malaga will invest in players over the summer and are a definite tip for the top six next season. Levante produced an excellent second half to the campaign to assure their safety with weeks to spare, thanks to the work of coach Luis Garcia and striker Felipe Caicedo, while Racing Santander stumbled home despite unkept promises and a squad that threatens to denounce the club for unpaid wages.

Real Sociedad suffered as a result of their inexperience, but a positive start to the campaign saw them get points in the bank to assure their survival, despite a nervous last game of the season against a Getafe team that went from being European candidates to relegation favorites in a matter of weeks.

Getafe is another side that will see investment from Arab owners over the summer, but coach Michel Gonzalez will not be at the helm. Javier Aguirre and the courage of club captain Gabi Fernandez saw Zaragoza home with a dramatic last day win away to Levante, while Mallorca were another side that ran out of steam and were just one goal away from relegation on the last day of the campaign.

Almeria and Hercules were two of the sides relegated: Almeria paid for poor pre-season planning and a squad that never looked good enough to survive despite the contributions of Pablo Piatti and Ulloa, while Hercules saw a positive start, which saw a win in the Camp Nou Stadium, fall apart amidst recriminations and unpaid wages.

Finally Deportivo la Coruna were also relegated on the last day of the season after 20 seasons in the top flight. Deportivo's players gave everything and were cheered off the pitch following their last day defeat to Valencia. Their defensive record was better than most, sides in the Primera Liga, but they paid the price for scoring just 31 goals in 38 matches.

The problem is that to score goals, sometimes you need money to make big signings and in Spain, only Barcelona and Real Madrid have that kind of money. With those two earning three times more than any other side for TV rights, it is a situation that will not change next season.

Source: Xinhua
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