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Spanish Inquisition: Worst La Liga Team Of The Season 2008/09

Formation: 4-3-3


Ivan 'Pichu' Cuellar (Sporting Gijon) -
So leaky is the Sporting back line that they have rotated their goalkeeping position this season. With former Atletico Madrid man Pichu between the posts, it's clear to see why. The luckless stopper conceded five against his former side and even managed to get sent off against Betis in a season that saw him flap at high balls and singularly fail to impress.


Cesar Palacios (Numancia) -
His supporters will blame injury, but the fact of the matter is that Palacios has not been good enough this season either in defence or midfield. That opening day performance against Barcelona aside, he's been quite unable to make his mark as he shows his age. Not the stabilising influence that the Rojillos needed at all.

Melli (Real Betis) -
A Betis boy through and through, Melli has actually become worse as he's grown older. He's started to lose his place in the Betico line-up of late, and while that's not turned the side's fortunes it has seen them tighten up, for the simple fact is that he's had a rotten season.

Ivan Hernandez (Sporting Gijon) - Showed signs of being out of his depth at the start of the season. Several months down the line, nothing has changed; even when he doesn't have Cuellar behind him he looks astonishingly shaky, and the Segunda surely beckons even if Sporting stay up.

Mariano Pernia (Atletico Madrid) - The former Getafe man has had a rotten season by anyone's measures. By Atleti's defensive standards, then, that puts him at around a 1,000 on a one-to-ten scale of incompetence. A Spanish international in his day, he's capable of far more, but this ultra-leaky Rojiblanco back line is not going to be plugged until he either rediscovers his form or is replaced. One gets the feeling that it will be the latter. (Oh: Heitinga was also an option here.)


Kanga Akale (Recreativo) -
Oh dear. This Ivorian international was trumpted as a top-notch signing for the Huelva outfit in summer, and it was easy to see why, given his pedigree on the world stage and his experience with such sides as Lens and Marseille. The fact that he has been rank rotten, and is embroiled in an unseemly pay dispute, takes the shine off his arrival just a tad.

Dimas (Numancia) - An unreliable presence in midfield, the former Barcelona youth's inability to retain possession for more than a few seconds at a time - most unusual for a Blaugrana cantera product - has seen his stature decline. Not a good campaign, and it seems as though he won't get another chance to prove himself at Primera level anytime soon.

Aliaksandr Hleb (Barcelona) -
A player who has had some remarkable seasons at Arsenal followed by a poor starting campaign at Barcelona - where have we heard that before? Well, let's just say that on the strength of this season, Hleb is no Thierry Henry. Indeed, while the Frenchman has well and truly come good this year, Hleb shows no sign of being able to re-ignite his old form because, above all else, he seems to have forgotten how to play the sport. His timid running, his side-netting efforts, his delayed reactions - he plays an unhappy game, and it's little wonder that Pep Guardiola seems to have little interest in him.


Mista (Deportivo) -
Utterly and completely past his best, Mista may once have wowed Atletico and Valencia fans, but his single, solitary goal all season tells its own story. Miguel Angel Lotina, Depor coach, lost the player due to injury back in February. One feels that this was no great loss as the Riazor side climb the table bereft of this misfiring has-been.

Raul Tamudo (Espanyol) - The inimitable captain is Espanyol's highest goalscorer of all time in the top flight, but you wouldn't know it from this season. The skipper has been conspicuous by his absence on the goalscoring charts and was also less than an inspiring influence as the Perequitos slipped into the drop-zone. They've since recovered, but Tamudo has not...

Javi Portillo (Osasuna) - Portillo was perhaps the only bright spark in a Gimnastic side that went down two seasons ago, but at Osasuna he has singularly failed to impress. Indeed, the free-scoring Real Madrid youth has hit the back of the net on precisely one occasion this season, and so low has his stock fallen that recently he's not even been coming off the bench.


Palacios – Melli – Ivan Hernandez – Pernia

Kanga Akale – Dimas – Hleb

Mista – Tamudo – Portillo

Do you agree with those who made it into the above Worst Team of the Season? Who would be in your XI? wants to know what YOU think...

Ewan Macdonald,