La Liga 2018/19: Season PreviewAugust 14, 2018
La Liga returns this week after two months away looking very different to last campaign. Three new teams have entered the league with three going the other way to La Liga 123, Cristiano Ronaldo is away too with Turin his destination while some stalwarts of Spain’s top flight have also departed to different climates.
That wont change the passion however, with the best league in the World ready to prove it’s status once more.
Last year’s champions Barcelona are the favourites to lift the title again, especially with Real Madrid weakened by Ronaldo’s departure, but Los Blancos are still World class and will be going toe-to-toe with the Catalans at the top of the table. Zinedine Zidane has departed the Bernabeu and been replaced by former Spain coach Julen Lopetegui who will hope to lead Madrid to the league in his debut season
Real’s city rivals Atlético cannot be written off either with Diego Simeone as always fired up to send his side out to fight for their lives in every game. The strike partnership of Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann is well capable of providing multiple goals and Atléti will definitely be involved at the very top of the table should they perform.
Andres Iniesta has departed the Camp Nou but with newly appointed captain Lionel Messi expected to continue to prove his worth with the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez alongside him too, it’s easy to see why Barca are the team to beat.
With Madrid’s big two and Barcelona expected to secure the top three spots, there will be one final Champions League qualification spot free for the rest of the sides in La Liga.
Valencia grabbed it last year and will expect to be fighting for fourth again this year but it won’t be as easy as it was last year. Real Betis have kept the majority of their squad from last season and recruited wisely with manager Quique Setien also still at the Benito Villamarin and the Seville side could well take fourth place.
Sevilla and Villarreal are also up at that end of the table year after year as well and will hope that they can sneak Champions League football, although the Europa League is a more likely finish.
The Europa League will also be a target for the big Basque duo of Athletic Club and Real Sociedad who can only improve after last year’s horror shows, as well as Celta Vigo and it’s likely that those three will fight it out with Sevilla and Villarreal for the three spots in Europe’s second tier competition.
Last year saw Girona, Getafe and Eibar also make surges for Europe so those three sides are certainly capable but it will not be easy to force their way up the table with their primary focus to stay in La Liga.
As it is with every season, the three promoted sides are the teams that most people look at to go straight back down again and this year is no different with Rayo Vallecano, Real Valladolid and La Liga debutants Huesca expected to be fighting at the wrong end of the league.
Espanyol have struggled in recent seasons and despite their relatively big name status, they can’t be ignored as a side that may be in a relegation fight this year. Levante and Leganes stayed up in the end last season but they know they’ll have to improve if they want to keep it that way this term with many of the teams improving their squads from last season.
Another side that could be down there are Alaves. The Basques started last season absolutely appallingly and looked certain to go down but a fantastic second half of the season under Abelardo Fernandez saw their fortunes turn around and they ended up finishing comfortably safe. They’ll hope to start this season better and that will be required if they want to stay in La Liga.
- Real Madrid
- Atletico Madrid
- Real Betis
- Celta Vigo
- Athletic Club
- Real Sociedad
- Rayo Vallecano
- Real Valladolid