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What to watch, and what to bet for the upcoming La Liga season


For all that the race at the top of La Liga has become renowned for being among the tightest, most compelling in Europe in recent years, Barcelona have won eight of the last 11 Spanish top flight titles. Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid have, at times, disrupted this spell of dominance with triumphs of their own, but this age in Spanish football has been that of the Catalans.

All three clubs have undergone various degrees of reconstruction over the summer, though. Atleti, Barca and Real have all made big signings, making this season’s title race one of the toughest to call in years. Nonetheless, it’s difficult to look past Barcelona as defending champions, especially if they add Neymar to the already secured signings of Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann.

2.5u - Back Barcelona To Win La Liga @ -150


While their promotion from the Segunda Division was undeniably dramatic, overturning a two-goal deficit against Deportivo La Coruna in the playoffs, Real Mallorca have to be considered the weakest of the 20 teams in the Spanish top flight this season. They have spent around €5 million on new signings, but that might not be enough to bolster a squad few thought good enough to be promoted.

Osasuna and Granada will also face a tough time as the other two promoted teams this season. Celta Vigo escaped the drop by the skin of their teeth last term, but barring injuries to key players they will be in top half this season. Alaves might be a surprise contender to get sucked into trouble down near the foot of the table as Asier Garitano is dropped in at the deep end.

1.5u - Back Real Mallorca To Be Relegated @ -142


Is it even worth debating who will finish as La Liga’s top scorer this coming season? As long as Lionel Messi is fit and healthy, he will take this accolade home, with the Argentinean only apparently growing more efficient in front of goals as he moves deeper into his 30s. Maxi Gomez might also be a good outside bet to finish near the top of the goalscoring standings after signing for Valencia from Celta Vigo.

0.25u - Back Maxi Gomez To Be Top Goalscorer @ +10000

EXCITING TEAM/NARRATIVE - The redemption of Julien Lopetegui?

The past year or so held quite a lot for Julien Lopetegui, not much of it positive. He was sacked as Spain manager on the eve of the 2018 World Cup, hired by Real Madrid and then sacked within a few months of taking that job. Now, Lopetegui, whose reputation has been left in tatters, has taken over at Sevilla. Will this be where the formerly highly rated coach achieves redemption? He wouldn’t be the first man to find a platform at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. It could be a good match.


Your eyes won’t be the only ones on Joao Felix this season. Any player signed to replace Griezmann was likely to be the focus of much scrutiny, but particularly one who is yet to even turn 20 and who cost an astonishing €126 million. The Portuguese forward, along with Matthijs de Ligt, was the most sought after young player in Europe this summer and so it was quite the coup that Atletico Madrid manager to lure him.

Whether or not Felix, who only has one full season of senior football under his belt, settles into his new surroundings will go a long way to determining the success or failure of Atleti’s season. Diego Simeone doesn’t have the best record when it comes to harnessing forwards (Jackson Martinez, Mario Mandzukic, Kevin Gameiro, Alessio Cerci) so there is a lot on the line here.

By Graham Ruthven

Article Author


Graham Ruthven is a soccer writer and tipster who has written for the New York Times, Guardian, Eurosport and others.


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