- By Andy West
- Spanish football writer
February 12, 2024
Updated 48 minutes ago
image source, Getty Images
Almeria have seven points and no wins from their first 24 La Liga games this season
Derby County fans… it's time to rejoice.
In 2007/08, the Rams recorded the worst season in the history of Europe's five major leagues, suffering relegation from the Premier League with just 11 points.
However, this unwanted record is now in serious jeopardy.
La Liga laggards Almeria have picked up just seven points – and no wins – from their first 24 games and are on course for a historically poor season.
The summer optimism will soon disappear
Almeria, owned by ambitious Saudi entrepreneur Turki Al-Sheikh, gained promotion to La Liga in 2022 and avoided relegation last season thanks to a dramatic 3-3 draw on the final day at Espanyol.
Although coach Rubi unexpectedly resigned in the summer, significant investment in new signings followed and there was no sign of the historic ineptitude that followed.
However, new head coach Vicente Moreno quickly fell out with the club's hierarchy and was fired after the first seven games yielded just two points.
Youth coach Alberto Lasarte was appointed interim coach, and his one game as coach dominated much of the season.
At home against struggling Granada FC, Almeria took a 3-0 lead at half-time when striker Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick in five minutes.
But a nervous defense couldn't withstand the hint of a Granada comeback and collapsed in a 3-3 draw, made worse by an injury to Suárez that sidelined him for three months.
The newly appointed coach Gaizka Garitano then improved the team's defense somewhat, but still lost his first six league games as coach. He couldn't even catch a break in the Copa del Rey, as Almeria were embarrassingly eliminated by fourth division side Barbastro.
This setback has further dented any remaining confidence and the rest is the worst kind in football history.
Why is Almeria so bad?
Actually, in many ways, strangely enough, that's not the case.
As bizarre as it may sound for a group that hasn't won all season, Almeria can sometimes look like a pretty good team – especially against top opponents.
They dominated for an hour away at Atlético Madrid but still lost 2-1, almost picked up a point at champions Barcelona but were undone by Sergi Roberto's late winner and had a deserved 2-0 half-time lead at the Bernabeu before Things got wild in the second half Real Madrid equalized with two VAR-assisted goals and then scored the winning goal in the 99th minute.
According to the “expected goals” data, Almeria shouldn’t even end up in the La Liga relegation zone, let alone the worst team in history.
But therein lies the answer to their problems: they score fewer goals than they should through poor finishing, and they concede more goals than they should through disastrous defending.
Their game in Valencia on the first weekend of February offered another example: midfielder Gonzalo Melero missed a starter, and two minutes later unmarked opposing striker Hugo Duro scored the opener.
They were 1-0 down instead of 1-0 up, eventually lost 2-1 and it was a sad season.
Lowest points total in Europe's top leagues (since three points for a win)
Premier League: Derby County 2007-08 (11)
La Liga: Sporting Gijon 1997-98 (13)
Bundesliga: Schalke 2020-21 (16)
Ligue 1: Lens 1988-89 (17)
Serie A: Pescara 2016-17 (18)
With that defeat in Valencia, Almeria equaled one of many unwanted records that were within reach: the longest winless start to a La Liga season – 23 games, equal with Sporting Gijon in the 1997/98 season.
Monday's 0-0 draw at home to Athletic Bilbao – albeit after trailing by 10 players with more than half an hour to play – meant they are now left with an overall winning record.
It's not the only milestone in the game. Another reason is La Liga's longest winless streak ever, which Levante set at 27 games in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons. After failing to win the last three games of last season, Almeria has now equaled that record.
At some point Almeria should win one or two games. Their overall good football was let down by terrible play inside the two penalty areas, bad luck, injuries and questionable refereeing decisions.
If they manage to last 90 minutes without these factors, they are quite capable of getting three points.
There will be plenty of motivation for each player as they head into the shop window. Former Real Madrid youngster Sergio Arribas, midfielder Lucas Robertone and versatile Edgar Gonzalez are among those good enough to stay in the top flight through summer moves.
Manager Garitano also hopes to finish the season well in order to retain his position for possible promotion next season.
But for now, Derby fans can keep their fingers crossed and hope that Almeria's next 15 games follow much the same pattern as the last 23.
If that happens, the dismal distinction of being the worst football team in the history of Europe's top flight could change hands.