After 3 months of waiting, the 89th La Liga edition will kick off on 16th August at 8.00pm as Athletic Bilbao welcome Barcelona to Sane Mames Stadium. Barcelona will be looking to defend their title for the third time in a row. Real Madrid, the most successful team in the competition, will be looking to bounce after their worst La Liga season in the modern era. On their part, Atletico Madrid will be looking to improve after coming second to Barcelona. Other teams like Valencia, Getafe, Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal will be looking to get into the top four.
Who will win La Liga?
There are only 3 realistic title contenders: Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid. So, what can we expect of these teams?
Although last season was memorable for the introduction of VAR in La Liga, we also had the chance to witness Barcelona win their 8th title in the last 11 seasons. They managed to win the league with three games to go. Barcelona dominated Spanish football throughout 2018/2019 season. From the 8-2 demolition job of Huesca to a 5-1 thrashing of Real Madrid, Valverde's men looked unstoppable. They looked set for a treble but they were bundled out of the Champions League by Liverpool at Anfield. This was surprising as Barcelona had a three-goal advantage. They also lost in the Copa Del Rey final to Valencia.
Although the Champions League and the Copa Del Rey results were disappointing, Barcelona has strengthened over the summer and are hot favourites to win their third consecutive La Liga title.
Frenkie de Jong - from Ajax
Antoine Griezmann - from their direct rivals Atletico Madrid
Neto - from Valencia
Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann are significant additions to the squad and the signing of Neto will make sure they have a decent backup goalkeeper. Regardless of whether Barcelona will be able to bring Neymar back from PSG in this transfer window, they have one of the best squads in Europe. The world cup winner Antoine Griezmann has established himself in La Liga since 2014. Frenkie de Jong may have an even bigger impact than Antoine Griezmann. The talented Dutchman is a brilliant ball progressor and transitioning play to the danger men Messi, Suarez, Dembele and Griezmann should not be a problem for him. His defensive skills are superb and will come in handy.
These two are excellent additions to a side that was so dominant in La Liga last season and it would be hard to look elsewhere for the La Liga title. However, Barcelona is desperate for European glory and winning the Champions League should be their ultimate goal. You can bet on Barcelona to win both the La Liga and the Champions League at a price of 8/1 at STS.
Last season was embarrassing for Real Madrid on every front. They hired and fired two coaches before Zinedine Zidane returned during the final stages of the season. That did not help, however, as the Los Blancos finished a distant third (19 points behind their arch-rivals Barcelona). Throw in twelve La Liga defeats and some humiliating cup exits, and you have the worst season in the modern era. Apart from Karim Benzema, other big names did not turn up to the party last season, and that has to change this time around.
Eden Hazard - from Chelsea
Rodrygo - from Santos
Eder Militao - from Porto
Luka Jovic - from Eintracht Frankfurt
Ferland Mendy from Lyon
These are excellent signings, and Real Madrid will be looking to get back into the business when the season begins and challenge for all the titles (La Liga, Champions League and Copa Del Rey).
Despite the overall improvement in the squad, however, Los Blancos have not had a marquee signing in midfield where Modric, Kroos and Casemiro struggled in some stages last season. Compared to the more dynamic Barcelona midfield, Real Madrid's midfield seems weak, and they may need to strengthen before the transfer window closes.
Eden Hazard is one of the best players in the world and will be expected to hit the ground running and lead Real Madrid’s attack alongside Luka Jovic and Karim Benzema.
Zinedine Zidane return to Santiago Bernabeu came as a surprise. He had walked out less than twelve months earlier after 3 consecutive champions league titles. Zidane seems to have a magic touch when it comes to the Champions League. However, winning the domestic league will be a priority for the Los Blancos as they seek to end Barcelona's dominance. They have not been able to challenge for the title since they last won it in 2017 under the Frenchman.
During 2016/2017 Zidane utilised huge squad rotation, which was a major factor in their success. He may be hoping to repeat that now that he has a ridiculous large squad at his disposal. Although Los Blancos are expected to win every competition they are in, at the very least they have to challenge Barcelona for the La Liga title. Also, with Zidane magic touch in Champions League, you can’t write them off the champions league. If you fancy Real Madrid winning both the Champions League and La Liga titles, why not play on them winning both competitions at 16/1. Check out STS special bets!
It has been a busy summer for Atletico Madrid with some major names leaving and several exciting players joining. It will be interesting to see how they go this season. Diego Simeone’s men came second to Barcelona and 8 points above Real Madrid. However, they never really threatened the Catalans for the La Liga title, and they exited the Champions League in the last 16 with uncharacteristically poor performance in Turin against a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Juventus.
Joao Felix – from Benfica
Mario Hermoso – from Espanyol
Marcos Llorente – from Real Madrid
Kieran Trippier – from Tottenham
Renan Lodi – from Athletico Paranaense
Felipe – from Porto
Antoine Griezmann - to Barcelona
Rodrygo - to Manchester City
Lucas Hernandez - to Bayern Munich
Juanfran - released
Diego Godin - release
Filipe Luis – released
Although Diego Simeone lost his main man Antoine Griezmann, the squad looks strong with the addition of Joao Felix, who is set to take Griezmann’s role. With Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata still at the club, they look strong going forward. However, the starting eleven is likely to have at least five new faces, and it would be difficult to know what to expect from them. Finishing third should be their realistic target and probably try to win the Copa Del Rey.