Every La Liga Team's Worst Offseason Nightmare
Many La Liga clubs have already experienced the loss of their best player this summer.
Sevilla have sold Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo, Atletico and Radamel Falcao are no longer together and Asier Illarramendi, Joan Verdu and Isco are among a number of other players to have moved on these past two months.
But now, with the start of the new campaign in sight, everything should be plain sailing, right?
What if it isn't, though? What would be the worst nightmare for each club to wake up to over the next month?
Almeria's dream start to the season could actually be the cause for their worst nightmare before the big kickoff.
Their first two home games are against Villarreal and Elche, the two sides promoted with them, while they have a trip to Getafe sandwiched in the middle.
Confidence-boosting wins could set the tone for survival, but if they fail to beat either of the other new boys, morale in the camp could quickly deteriorate.
Particularly as they then face a trip to the Vicente Calderon to meet Atletico Madrid.
Athletic Bilbao have played their last ever game in the old San Mames, with La Catedral closing its doors at the end of last season.
But with work still ongoing on the new San Mames, there's the possibility it won't be ready for the new season.
What would that mean?
It might mean that Athletic would have to play some matches in San Sebastian at Real Sociedad's Anoeta stadium. Now that would be a nightmare.
Things are as rosy at Atletico Madrid as they have been in quite some time.
They have a settled, impressive manager in Diego Simeone and, after the sale of Radamel Falcao, have what appears to be a balanced squad with little emphasis on one player.
Coming through the ranks they have youngsters like Oliver Torres, Saul Niguez and Javier Manquillo; all seems well on the red and white side of Madrid.
One thing that could put a slight dent in their optimism is if there is any truth in the Eurosport report claiming Barcelona are eyeing up Oliver Torres (h/t Yahoo!—article in Spanish).
The young midfielder would undoubtedly suit the Catalan club, but Atleti will hope his future remains in the Spanish capital.
After Laurent Blanc confirmed that Thiago Silva will remain at PSG this summer, according to The Guardian, it seems Barcelona's search for a defender will have to turn elsewhere.
With this search seemingly going on for over a year, briefly ended, for some reason, by the signing of Alex Song, it seems unthinkable that the club won't sign a partner for Gerard Pique.
Signing a player's not always that easy, though, and La Blaugrana won't want to sign anyone merely for the sake of it.
And if they can't find the right player, or the right price, they could go into the season with the players they have.
Celta Vigo's worst nightmare could be about to become a reality any minute now.
Luis Enrique, who only took over at the club this summer, is rumored to have found himself in a two-way race with Gerardo Martino to be named the new Barcelona manager, as Goal.com's Ben Hayward reports.
If he does swap Spain's west coast for the east coast, it would leave Celta scrambling for a new manager with less than one month until the season starts.
Elche ran away with the Segunda title last season but, upon their return to La Liga, their worst nightmare won't be relegation.
Promoted clubs always arrive with the realistic expectation that an immediate return to where they've just come from is a possibility.
And with signings like Manu del Moral and Ruben Perez on loan from Sevilla and Atletico Madrid respectively, Elche won't be expecting miracles.
However, relegation in a particular manner is a concern; the Franjiverdes will be keen to avoid humiliation and will be look to start the season with intent at Rayo Vallecano.
Sergio Garcia, now minus the ponytail in the photo, has begun to find his form again since the appointment of Javier Aguirre last November.
And the forward, who made Spain's Euro 2008 squad, could find there is extra emphasis on his shoulders next season after the departure of Joan Verdu.
Now 30, Garcia is one of the club's few strikers, and it will be imperative he remains fit ahead of the new campaign.
If anything happened to him, Espanyol would be left with just Christian Stuani and the inexperienced Thievy Bifouma to supply their goals.
Getafe averaged home crowds of just 8,157 last season.
The jokes and mocking about their attendances have become so much across Spain, that the club will dread the thought of it slipping even lower.
But with Almeria, Osasuna and Celta Vigo the first three visitors the Coliseum, it's going to be difficult to boost those numbers early on.
Admittedly it must be tough competing for supporters in a city like Madrid, just imagine if they dipped below 5,000 in one of those matches, though.
Granada's biggest flaw last season was failing to hit the back of the net regularly enough.
To address that situation, they have signed strikers Riki and Piti from Deportivo La Coruna and Rayo Vallecano respectively.
Both are 32 and presumably one of the two's experience will pay off and result in more goals for the Andalusian side.
However, the fear is that neither can replicate last season's heroics, and Granada are left back at square one, sans goals.
Levante have replaced Juan Ignacio Martinez with Joaquin Caparros in their manager hot seat this summer.
Martinez was often criticized for the style of football he implemented in Valencia, but it's worth noting the success the club achieved under him.
They came close to Champions League qualification in 2011/12, while managing domestic and European campaigns fairly convincingly last year.
With a small squad, though, any form of injury crisis could be dangerous for Levante ahead of the start of the new season.
Bernd Schuster resigned from his job at Besiktas on March 15, 2011 and hasn't been seen in football management since.
Until this summer that is, when Malaga named him as the successor to Manuel Pellegrini.
After a successful spell as Getafe manager, he earned a move to Real Madrid—after 18 months and one La Liga triumph at the Bernabeu, the German resigned.
Malaga will hope they inherit the man that led to Getafe to a Copa del Rey final and European football, but after a summer of upheaval there's a real chance they could have a struggle on their hands next season.
After struggling for the majority of last season, Osasuna eventually prevailed to maintain their status as a La Liga club.
The board stuck by Jose Luis Mendilibar through the tough times, but they may not be so forgiving this time round.
As clubs around them, like Granada, invest in strengthening their squads, there's a feeling in Pamplona that Osasuna are standing still.
They've lost Kike Sola to Athletic Bilbao and will have genuine fears of becoming embroiled in a battle at the bottom.
Rayo Vallecano have been denied the chance to prosper in Europe due to financial irregularities—they've also lost the likes of Piti, Javi Fuego and Leo Baptistao.
You get the feeling it won't deflate the club too much, though; their home fans rank among the best in La Liga, and Paco Jemez has them playing exciting football.
Unfortunately, with such a small budget, it's always likely that Rayo will struggle at the wrong end of the table.
That's unlikely to deter their supporters, though, whose biggest concerns may arise if Vallecas stops being fun.
It's already been a summer of change for Real Betis.
Benat Etxebarria, Jose Canas and Adrian are among those to have have left the club, while Joan Verdu, Lorenzo Reyes and Markus Steinhofer have been signed.
Fortunately, the glue that holds Los Verdiblancos together is still present: manager Pepe Mel.
With a domestic and European campaign to manage, it goes without saying that Betis will hope Mel is still around come the opening weekend of the new season.
With one friendly test passed, Real Madrid will be desperate for their squad to come through preseason unharmed.
That train of thought will apply most to Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese forward has been their best player, by a fair way, for several seasons now, and contemplating a season without him would be unthinkable.
So friendly opposition beware, don't hurt Cristiano.
After the drama of Philippe Montanier, Real Sociedad's manager, departing for Rennes and Asier Illarramendi heading south for Real Madrid, La Real seem to have been dealt their bad luck for the offseason.
However, they will now be hoping for a favorable draw in the Champions League qualifiers.
With just a two-legged tie to get through to join Europe's elite in the group stages, they will want to avoid a difficult tie, if possible, to get there.
Although even if they are dumped out at the first hurdle, they'll have the cushion of Europe League football.
After making relatively light work of survival last season, Real Valladolid fans will be desperate to continue moving in the right direction.
Unfortunately, the decision of their manager, Miroslav Djukic, to join Valencia means the transition between seasons hasn't been particularly smooth.
They've replaced him with Juan Ignacio Martinez, who performed wonders at Levante, but will not be overly confident ahead of the new season.
To replicate last year would be taken right now, but the "R" word is lingering around Valladolid this offseason.
It would be a cruel twist of fate if Sevilla were forced to sell Ivan Rakitic days before the new season.
Having already earned plenty of money from the sales of Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas, the Andalusian club have no need to sell.
However as the season ticks closer, some of Europe's clubs could do worse than turn to the Croatian international if they miss out on their current targets.
As things stand, though, there doesn't seem to be any concrete interest in the creative midfielder.
Sevilla will hope things stay that way.
Just as Roberto Soldado seemed set to remain with Valencia, it seems the opposite is true.
According to ESPN, Los Che have set a deadline of August 3 for clubs to make their bids for the striker, supposedly wanting a fee of €30 million for the Spanish international.
Selling him is not the end of the world, it's how they replace him, which could lead to Valencia fans waking up in a cold sweat.
Players like Real Zaragoza's Helder Postiga, who has been linked, are unlikely to be too merrily received, as reported by Marca's Fernando Alvarez.
Villarreal have splashed out around €6 million to lure Giovani dos Santos from the island of Mallorca back to mainland Spain.
And if he can replicate the form he showed for the Islanders, even if it didn't manage to keep them up, the the Yellow Submarines will feel happy with their purchase.
The worst-case scenario is that their new signing goes back into the shell that saw him fail to make an impact at Tottenham Hotspur.
With an older, mature head on his shoulders, Villarreal should be OK on this one, though.