There’s plenty to get excited about for the upcoming La Liga Primera season. It might be too early to look at Malaga as genuine challengers to Real Madrid and Barcelona’s dominance over the top two places in Spain, but the new season certainly begins the process of establishing another heavyweight in Spanish football.
Real Madrid were finally able to break Barcelona’s resistance and claim the La Liga title for the first time since 2008. It was a landmark season for Jose Mourinho’s men as the club were finally hitting the heights that their expensively assembled squad demand. It’s no longer an expectation that Barcelona will have the upper hand over their fierce rivals, as Madrid outplayed Barcelona in their final meeting of the campaign and ended any hope of the league title returning to the Nou Camp.
Even though there has been little transfer activity thus far into the summer, Jose Mourinho’s men are looking well poised to complete back-to-back title wins. The greatest hurdle has finally been overcome and Madrid now have a belief that they can beat Barcelona over a 38-game league season.
The impressive one, two, three punch in attack for Madrid is comfortably one of the most potent in Europe. Together, Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo totalled 118 goals in all competitions last season and the ability to rotate members of the attack means Madrid are consistently a threat.
The worry, of course, was that Higuain would leave the Bernabeu this summer in seek of much more regular minutes. The issue, however, was quickly rubbished by Mourinho, who insisted the Argentine striker is a valued member of the squad and that there are no favourites between him and Benzema.
With little movement of significance out the door at the Bernabeu (and perhaps a few smart moves in to strengthen the squad) Real Madrid look good to retain their title at betting odds of 4/5.
Their rivals Barcelona (6/5) may not be as sure of themselves heading into next season. Yes the modern footballing world is still defined by Barcelona and all they have done over the past four years, but the club is in a state of transition from a fiercely successful manager to the hands of his right hand man. Can Barcelona continue in the same vein under the guidance of Tito Villanova? There’s very little playing against him. He’s familiar with the ethos at the club, he’s been in the dugout for all the successes of the past four years and, most importantly, has been offered the trust and backing of the club’s hierarchy.
A settling in period is necessary. He will also have to handle the disappointments of last year should they present themselves again. The injury to David Villa severely knocked Barcelona off course, while the rest of the squad proved to be too thin and incapable of offering significant alternatives to Lionel Messi’s goals.
At times Barcelona were found out, too. The team were involved in a heavy number of draws and losses, many of which were winnable games only a season prior. The lack of a “real” pre-season also played its part. But with little movement likely to happen beyond the signing of exciting left-sided attacker Jordi Alba, the need will be to keep the team fresh and firing from more than just one area of the pitch.
Confidence will play its part, as will the desire to right the wrongs of last season. Barcelona are perhaps the most difficult team to bet against, such is their dominance in a great percentage of their matches. To reclaim their title, Barcelona are priced at 6/5 second favourites in a betting market that has no time for teams beyond the top two.
Again, it’s a little premature to assume Malaga will make a significant dent on the top pair in La Liga this coming season. They’re certainly on the right path having finished in a Champions League place last season, and there is recent history of Barcelona and Real Madrid’s monopoly of the top two breaking up.
With some smart moves (and they are absolutely needed) Malaga could have a team worthy of shocking Spanish football. Malaga’s odds to land the title next season are at a big-looking 80/1 in the La Liga betting.
So the conclusion if you want to put money down has to be a healthy wager on Real Madrid at 4/5 and, at odds of 80/1, you only need to invest a little for a healthy potential return on Malaga.