Spanish La Liga Outright Preview

We’re still a week away from La Liga action, but we need some indication as to who will lift the title.
We’re still a week away from La Liga action, but we need some indication as to who will lift the title.
We’re still a week away from Spanish La Liga action, but we need some indication as to who will lift the league title at the end of the season. That’s where I come in. I’ll take a look at who the challengers are for the 2017/18 campaign and who I’m expecting to finish in the top four and qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League. Also, I’ll take a look at the three new clubs in the league and whether or not they can push for La Liga status and survive the drop.

To Win Outright
Barcelona 9/10 | Real Madrid 9/10 | Atletico Madrid 33/1 | Sevilla 150/1 | Villarreal 300/1

The Contenders

Real Madrid

Starting off with last season’s winners, Real Madrid. The champions haven’t had the best pre-season run, failing to win in any of their four games before the UEFA Super Cup. At the time of writing, they’re yet to face Manchester United in Macedonia.

Pre-season plays a crucial role in preparations for the upcoming campaign, but at the same time, it is just friendlies. The footballing world is well and truly aware of how great Los Blancos can be on their day, especially after winning back-to-back Champions League titles.

Madrid have been heavily linked with Monaco starlet, Kylian Mbappe, and it will be interesting to see whether they can close that deal before the end of the transfer window. Still, Zinedine Zidane’s men have sold too many first-team players for my liking. Fabio Coentrao, Pepe, Mariano Diaz, James Rodriguez, Danilo and Alvaro Morata have all been let go, while Theo Hernandez and Dani Ceballos are the only two new faces at Madrid.

I’m still expecting Cristiano Ronaldo to stay with the Spanish giants, as well as Gareth Bale, who has also been linked with a move away in recent weeks, meaning Madrid will still be contenders right till the end of the season. No matter which players have left in the past, they’ll always remain one of Europe’s best teams.

Barcelona

Up next, we look at Barcelona. The Catalans were recently involved in the biggest transfer of all time as they sold Neymar to PSG in a record-breaking €222m deal. Not only does that dent Barcelona’s title chances, but it also breaks up the fiercest attacking trio ever seen in world football. Barca won’t be the same without their famous ‘MSN’ partnership, but they’re one of the biggest clubs in the world, and the biggest clubs should keep fighting at the top!

Ernesto Valverde, who enters the biggest challenge of his managerial career, will finally have a shot of competing with a big team after many successful years with Athletic Bilbao. Having lost Neymar, Barca have set their sights on a few targets.

Ousmane Dembele of Borussia Dortmund and Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool have both been linked heavily with the Catalonian giants. Dembele would occupy the role left by Neymar, forming what could be a new frightening trio of “MSD”, while Coutinho is seen as a long-term replacement for Andres Iniesta.

With talent like that, Valverde’s men will always be at the highest level, and with Lionel Messi still in Barcelona colours, it’s difficult to go against them.

Atletico Madrid

Although the betting suggests that Atletico Madrid are out of the question when competing for the title, you can never rule out a side coached by Diego Simeone. The Madrid giants have forced their way into the mix, year after year.

Their transfer ban stops them from registering players until January 2018, which has set them back big time. I’m expecting them to get Diego Costa from Chelsea, while they’ve also signed Vitolo from Sevilla (who is loaned out to Las Palmas until January).

Luciano Vietto has also returned from his loan spell at Sevilla, and has had a decent amount of game time in pre-season, with Simeone set to use the Argentine much more this season – or at least until the arrival of Costa in January.

Luckily, Atletico managed to keep hold of star-player, Antoine Griezmann, who looked set for a move to Manchester United in the beginning of the transfer window. Although their ban could cost them in strengthening for the new season, big name players have opted to see out the campaign for at least another year.

Newcomers and whether they can survive

Levante, Girona and Getafe are the new challengers set for battle at the top flight this campaign.  Last season’s Segunda winners, Levante, will hope for more of the same after beating off their closest rivals to the title by 14 points. Their main signing so far has been Cheick Doukoure, a defensive midfielder previously at Metz.

Both Levante and Getafe finished last season with just one home defeat. That record will be crucial when fighting for survival, as they look to emulate the likes of Alaves and Leganes, who both kept their La Liga status for at least another year.

Girona have done some decent business in the transfer window, and are clearly huge admirers of the English Premier League. They’ve signed Middlesbrough duo, Christian Stuani and Bernardo Espinosa, as well as loaning four Manchester City players in Pablo Maffeo, Marlos Moreno, Aleix Garcia and Douglas Luiz.

As for survival, I’m predicting Getafe to maintain their top flight status. They conceded just 43 goals in 42 matches, while they’ve also captured Arsenal goalkeeper, Emi Martinez, on loan.

Prediction: Barcelona (9/10)
Despite losing Neymar, I think Barcelona should still clinch the title. It’s a bold prediction now that the ‘MSN’ trio is broken up, but they will go out and do their best to replace him – possibly with Dembele or Coutinho, or both. Real Madrid have let too many players leave and their squad depth now worries me. Their backline could be a cause for concern after Pepe left, with Raphael Varane likely to replace him in the starting line-up, but no real worthy replacement for the bench. I also think Atletico’s transfer ban has set them back, although they could come to life in the second half of the season. That said, get on the Catalans to claim the 2017/18 La Liga title at 9/10!

Top Four Prediction:
1. Barcelona
2. Real Madrid
3. Atletico Madrid
4. Villarreal

Written by Jesse Nagel