Some of the biggest teams in European football are back this Friday when La Liga Season 2019/20 kicks off with Athletic Bilbao hosting reigning champions Barcelona. Here is our preview of the upcoming season, outlining the title contenders, top 4 candidates and yet another interesting relegation battle!
The reigning La Liga champions are deserved favourites heading into their 2019/20 campaign as they chase a third successive title. Barcelona have added to their already dangerous squad over the summer with French sensation Antoine Griezmann and one of Ajax’s surprise packets, Frenkie De Jong. To add further salt into their rival’s wound’s, there is still a chance Neymar could return to the Catalan giants from PSG, which could all but cement their La Liga credentials and make them Champions League favourites. Nothing but trophies is expected from Barcelona this season, putting coach Ernesto Valverde under huge pressure to deliver.
Key signing/s: A. Griezmann (Ath Madrid, £107M). F. De Jong (Ajax, £67M), J. Firpo (Real Betis, £27M)
Key loss/es: A. Gomes (Everton, £22M), Malcom (Zenit, £36), F. Alcacer (Dortmund), J. Cillessen (Valencia)
First 5 games: Ath Bilbao (A), Real Betis (H), Osasuna (A), Valencia (H), Granada (A)
Predicted Finish & Title Odds: 1st - 1.53
No team is more happy to see a brand new La Liga season than Real Madrid. The European giants lost a staggering twelve games last season to finish in third place, well below what is expected from a team that boasts the likes of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Sergio Ramos. But with a new season comes new beginnings for Madrid, the return of Zinedine Zidane as manager and plenty of action throughout the transfer window has allowed for plenty of optimism. Unfortunately their pre-season has been nothing short of shocking though, with four defeats, including a monstrous 7-3 shellacking at the hands of Atletico Madrid. They should enjoy an improved campaign, but with a lot of change and a shaky off-season it probably won’t be enough to topple Barcelona.
Key signing/s: E. Hazard (Chelsea, £88M), E. Militao (Porto), L. Jovic (Frankfurt, £54M), F. Mendy (Lyon)
Key loss/es: D. Ceballos (Arsenal, loan)
First 5 games: Celta Vigo (A), Valladolid (H), Villarreal (A), Levante (H), Sevilla (A)
Predicted Finish & Title Odds: 2nd - 2.8
Although they finished above Real Madrid in 2018/19, Atletico endured a mostly disappointing season after a poor UCL campaign and barely challenging Barcelona in La Liga. Over the summer they were further impacted with the big name losses of Griezmann, Godin, Rodri and others. But, they have done plenty of business to replace those players, headlined by the arrival of Joao Felix from Benfica, who cost a staggering £113M. Coach Diego Simeone has a big task on his hands with not only lots of new names in the squad, but a new stadium to contend with also. His line-up of players looks promising, but Barcelona and Real Madrid look stronger on paper at the moment.
Key signing/s: J. Felix (Benfica, £113M), K. Trippier (Tottenham, £20M), Hermoso (Espanyol), R. Lodi (Paranaense), H. Herrera (Porto), Felipe (Porto)
Key loss/es: A. Griezmann (Barcelona, £107M), D. Godin (Inter), F. Luis (Flamengo), L. Vietto (Sporting), Rodri (Man City, £62M), L. Hernandez (B Munich)
First 5 games: Getafe (H), Leganes (A), Eibar (H), Sociedad (A), Celta Vigo (H)
Predicted Finish & Title Odds: 3rd - 11.3
Top 4 Finish
Valencia & Sevilla
It was a superb end of the season for Valencia in May, beating Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final and qualifying for the Champions League. For them to succeed once again, they need to become a lot more consistent and get the best out of new signings Jasper Cillessen and Maxi Gomez. On the other hand, Sevilla have undertaken a massive overhaul during the summer with a new coach and eleven new signings. They’re less favoured to make the Top 4 in comparison to Valencia, but if they can get the best out of the incoming Jules Kounde and Joan Jordan it’s theirs for the taking.
Osasuna, Granada, Mallorca, Valladolid, Leganes and Levante
Similar to some of the other big European leagues, the La Liga relegation battle is a lot tougher to pick than the winners of the title. With three relegation spots on the line, the above six sides look the most likely candidates to drop down to Liga 123. This list includes the promoted Osasuna, who won comfortably last year with their attacking style, but they will need to adjust it to suit La Liga. The oddsmakers have Mallorca, Granada and Valladolid as the favourites for relegation, but it’s always a tough call!
Check out our preview of the 2019/20 Premier League Season here!
Check out our preview of the 2019/20 Ligue 1 Season here!