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Friday May 20 2016
2015-16 Season Review: Espanyol, Eibar, Deportivo, Granada

Individual feats kept up Eibar and Deportivo La Coruna, while takeovers were the talk of Espanyol and Granada. Feargal Brennan reviews 13th-16th in La Liga.

The tension on La Liga’s final day was palpable, with Granada only assured of safety due to the complexity of results for the teams below them, but the Andalusians could watch Barcelona secure the title on their own patch in the knowledge their job was done before the match.

Granada have flirted with relegation every season since their promotion in 2011, and 2015-16 was no different, their fans forced to endure a particularly nervy end to the campaign as early form almost came back to haunt them. However, next term could offer a clean slate if the Pozzo family sell the club to Chinese investors, as reported by the Press.

Jose Gonzalez’s team won just three games before the turn of the year, a run that left them in deep relegation trouble, saved primarily by the equally-poor performances of those teams around them. Even a run in the Copa del Rey was beyond them as they were hammered 7-0 on aggregate by Valencia.

Moving up a place in 15th was Deportivo La Coruna, who also played host to a title-chaser on the final day in Real Madrid, ultimately losing 2-0 to Zinedine Zidane’s team.

Like Granada, Depor also suffered a particularly lean patch of results in 2015-16, embarking on an astonishing winless run of 15 games, but they too were saved by the dreadful form of others.

A high point of the season was a spirited fightback to draw 2-2 with Barca at Camp Nou, yet they were trounced 8-0 by the champions on their visit to Riazor.

The goals of Lucas Perez were a huge feature of Coruna’s play, and the free transfer of the former Rayo Vallecano youngster looks to be an excellent piece of business by Coach Victor Sanchez, who survived intense media scrutiny in the second half of the season, amidst reports of dressing-room revolt.

Eibar continue to win fans and punch well above their weight, and they retained their top-flight status, despite their run of one win in their final 14 games. The popular Basque club developed a firm habit of beating the teams they needed to beat to survive. In the first half of the season, they defeated Rayo, Getafe and Sporting Gijon at home.

Both Saul Berjon and Adrian Gonzalez enjoyed strong campaigns in midfield, but the star of the Eibar show was 19-goal Borja Baston, on loan from Atletico Madrid. Borja’s performances had put him in with a chance of making Vicente Del Bosque’s Euro 2016 squad, and with just a year left on his contract at the Vicente Calderon, the Basques will need to act quickly to sign him permanently.

Espanyol claimed a respectable 13th-place finish, despite finishing the season with the worst goal difference in La Liga. Defensive issues undermined their season, struggling to see out games and convert draws into wins, particularly away from Cornella-El Prat. In fact only relegated Getafe conceded more goals away from home, prompting Sergio Gonzalez’s dismissal.

However their actual overall in-game performances were strong, without being spectacular, as Sergio’s replacement Constantin Galca guided them to a congested mid-table, finishing only nine points behind Europa League winners Sevilla in seventh. They also disposed of Levante in the Copa del Rey, before being ousted themselves by city rivals Barca.

Gerard Moreno and Hernan Perez, both signed from Villarreal last summer, have enjoyed promising starts in Catalonia, and the club’s Chinese takeover means they will likely invest again, regardless of whether or not Galca stays on.

Defensive reinforcements are expected to be a priority, with Enzo Roco set to make his loan move from Chilean side O’Higgins a permanent one during the close-season.

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