La Liga Season Preview
The new La Liga season will be underway shortly and yet again the league title looks set to be a battle between Barcelona and Real Madrid. The top two have dominated the league for as long as most can remember and yet again they will square off against each other. After winning the title last season and a relatively quiet summer so far, Barcelona are installed as favourites to lift the 2018/19 title, with Real Madrid in behind them.
Barcelona or Real Madrid?
It is hard to see any other club away from these two winning the La Liga title and the prices from the bookmakers reflect that. Barcelona are 8/11 favourites to lift the trophy once more, with Real Madrid in behind them at 5/4. There is a big gap to the rest of the teams with Atletico Madrid at 12/1 and everyone else priced up at 100/1 or bigger. This shows the uncompetitiveness of La Liga, and while a win for Atletico would be a big surprise, a win for anyone else other than the top three would require a miracle.
The big test for Real Madrid, alongside having a new boss in charge, is how they will cope on the field without the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo. Towards the end of last season, Ronaldo looked in need of a change of scenery and he has received the move he wanted this summer, leaving Madrid for Juventus. He is a very big personality and someone who would have been a very vocal member of the dressing room, something that will need replacing. The team will react one way or another, they will either be glad he has left and other people will get their chance to shine, or they will miss him and struggle to cope without both his skills and leadership.
Who Can Round Off the La Liga Top Four?
Away from Barcelona and Real Madrid, one of the most intriguing races will be to see who can make the top four behind them. It is highly likely that the top three will be a combination of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, but who will take the fourth and final spot? Valencia were the team to bag that spot last season, and it will be interesting to see whether they can do it again or whether someone like Sevilla or Villareal can overtake them.
Valencia are 7/4 to finish in the top four, and they are the fourth favourites behind the big three. After them, if you think a different team will get there you can back Sevilla at 5/2 or Villareal at 15/4. Both have some work to do though, Villareal finished fifth last season, 12 points behind Valencia while Sevilla finished seventh and they were 15 points off fourth spot. Both look capable of challenging, but on bare form from last season they do have some work to do.
If you are looking for someone at a bigger price then Real Betis did very well to finish ahead of Sevilla last season, and their price of 10/1 could make them over priced. Teams like Celta Vigo, Real Sociedad and Athletico Bilbao are all capable of mounting a challenge, and with a bit of luck they shouldn't be too far away. The race for fourth spot in La Liga has the potentialy to be a great one, and away from the top two it is certainly something to keep an eye on.
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The Race to Avoid Relegation
The three teams promoted to La Liga this season are three of the first four favourites in the betting to be relegated back down. SD Huesca are favourites for the drop at 20/33 and they are going to have a lot to prove when making this step up. Valladolid are second favourites at 7/4 and Vallecano round off the three La Liga newcomers at 21/10. Just ahead of them are the only team to play in La Liga last season, and that is Levante who are 2/1. There is little to choose between these four and they look to be the most likely to go down, with SD Huesca looking to have a really tough task ahead of them.
Further down this market you will find both Alaves and Leganes at 5/2, and they are going to have to perform well to keep away from the relegation fight this season. With a bad run of injuries and a poor bit of luck, any of the teams mentioned could find themselves in trouble, and that sets up what is sure to be a very exciting La Liga season.