La Liga Preview: 15. Las Palmas

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After dropping their final five matches and six of their last seven, Las Palmas fired manager Quique Setién, who had elevated the team to an 11th place finish in his first season. However, the team from the Canary Islands had dropped all the way from 8th in week 17 to 14th. Enter unproven manager Manolo Marquéz Roca, promoted from managing the reserves team. He certainly has a tough task in front of him as he tries to get los pío-pío back to mid-table.

Last season: 14th
Predicted finish: 15th
Manager: Manolo Marquéz Roca (first season)
Transfers in: RB Ximo Navarro, Almería, free; GK Leandro Chichizola, Spezia Calcio, free; LB Borja Herrera, Las Palmas Atlético, free
Transfers out: CM Roque Mesa, Swansea, 12.5M euros; CF Marko Livaja, AEK, 200k loan; GK Javi Varas, Granada, free; LB Hélder Lopes, AEK, free; CF Héctor Figueroa, AEK, free; CM Ángel Montoro, free agent
Predicted Starting 11 (4-3-3): GK Raúl Lizoain, RB Michel, CB Mauricio Lemos, CB Pedro Bigas, LB Dani Castellano, CM Momo, CM Mateo García, CAM Alen Halilovic, RW Tana, CF Kevin Prince-Boateng, LW Jonathan Viera

2016-17: Las Palmas won three of their first four, only losing at Sevilla, but would not win again until November 5, drawing four times in six matches, including a 2-2 match against Real Madrid and a 3-3 thriller against Celta Vigo. The 1-0 win over Eibar started a slew of good home performances including wins over Athletic Bilbao, Sporting Gijon and Valencia. However, the long trips from the Canaries proved costly including a 5-0 loss to Barcelona. Four straight February losses made it worse for pío-pío before a respectable 3-3 draw at Real Madrid and a home victory over Osasuna. After a 4-3 loss at Espanyol, Palmas followed up with a home win over Villareal and their first and only road victory at Celta Vigo. Las Palmas would only win one more game over the rest of the season, besting Real Betis before the aforementioned five straight losses that ran Quique Setién out of town.

Star player: A youth player who journeyed to Valencia, Standard Leige and Rayo Vallecano before returning to his boyhood club, Jonathan Viera had a breakout season in 2016-17, scoring seven goals for Las Palmas. He had a decent amount of help up front as well from German legend Kevin Prince-Boateng, who scored 10 goals for pío-pío. The team’s 53 goals were average for the league, and a similar performance could get them into mid-table with some defensive help.

Transfer window: Despite scoring 53 goals, Las Palmas had a -21 goal differential and allowed 74 goals, 18th in the league. They have only made three free transfers so far despite losing star central midfielder Roque Mesa, and leave much to be desired in this department. A suspect defense can be one of the worst things for an inexperienced manager and could lead to several big losses early in the season. Palmas much address this hole in order to compete for a mid-table position.

Prediction: After five straight losses and the lack of improvement on their 2015-16 first place finish, Las Palmas cannot be blamed for firing Quique Setién. However, his replacement, the inexperienced Manolo Marquéz Roca, promoted from managing the reserves team, is unexpected. His lack of moves in the transfer window and their 74 goals allowed last season means this team is likely to move down in the rankings once again. While they should stay up, a battle in the relegation zone is not out of the question for Las Palmas this season.

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